Why Inclusion leads to a Growth mindset

I had the pleasure to moderate a WomenWill Workshop from Google’s Zukunfstwerkstatt in Munich (Germany) last week. On the event, I was able to meet 72 inspiring women in leadership positions. We had intensive discussions about a women’s experience as a leader in todays world and growth mindsets.. During our panel discussion, Maria had the courage to ask quite directly:

Why does everyone measure goal achievement as a successful career and are there other aspects that creates a fulfilling career?

Thinking quite intensively about Maria’s question, I came to three conclusions:

1. Happiness is NOT only Goal Achievement

What makes us really feeling happy and content? It is definitely not only about reaching a goal or a career. We have four major hormones that make us feel happy or content:

  • ENDORPHIN: Is the neurotransmitter that is produced when we keep repetitively doing something. For example: working out or keeping focussed on one subject.
  • DOPAMINE: Is responsible for what we feel when we have achieved something (reward). This is also produced when we e.g. consume cocaine, nicotine or coffee. It is also the hormone we get when fulfilling our OKRs and finishing our Asana task list but.
  • SEROTONIN: Is activated we we feel that we are much appreciated. For example  by an inner circle to which we bring a great value to (e.g our team). It is also produced when you work as a coach and you empower someone to achieve something.
  • OXYTOCIN: The hormone that we produce when we feel with someone, when we share true love or appreciation for someone. That’s why so many people love the School of Design Thinking workshops since they produce a high level of Oxytocin.

According to a Princeton University Research, people that activate all four neurochemical transmitters will have a 30% more longevity than people that will have an unbalanced happiness level.

2. A balanced happiness level is important for high performing teams

If you work in an environment that is strongly guided on performance level (dopamine), you will on the one hand probably fulfill all your OKRs and goals. But on the other hand, you will lack purpose, creativity and empathy to develop something new.
Furthermore, innovation will come short and teams will only run to get the next 100m$ of turnover. On the contrary, if you would work in a team that is based on a high appreciation level and empathy, you would definitely feel happy to work there but maybe your performance goals would lack behind. Especially in the new work area it is even more important to have teams that have the four balanced neurochemical transmitters:

  • They have a clear vision, where to go to get. endurance and patience.
  • Goals are set up.
  • A high appreciation and empowerment level of the individual (yourself and others) is present.
  • They have a high level of emotional intelligence to think disruptive and empathic.

From this background, I agree with Simon Sinek (Why Leaders eat last). He states, that female and male leaders having a highly balanced approach. 

3. Inclusion will help us to develop a growth mindset to leave our default thinking

There is no empirical evidence on this, but after reading a lot about neurology and endocrinology, the following conjecture can be made:

By default, women tend to have a higher need of Serotonin (confirmation of the outside) as well as oxytocin level. Hence, when we work in a positive environment, we feel well accepted and we can clearly see a purpose in that we invest our time into. Since per default our testosterone level is not on the same level as men’s, we do not need the daily kick to get high dopamine doses.

And now please don’t say – “we can’t change, it’s the hormones”. The good thing is that we can exercise our thinking. This is called neuroplasticity and will also trigger your neurochemical transmitters likewise.

In conclusion, women as well as men are able to change their default mode thinking to activate in a balanced way the four neurochemical transmitters. But this also means, that you are in the driver seat and you need to have the self-governance to leave your default thinking mode. Hence, if you want to develop a high performing team, that uses all four happiness hormones, you can develop a growth mindset by leaving your default thinking. Irrespective if you are a man or a woman.

Our best practices to develop a Growth Mindset

Start to ask and revise the following questions with your team:

  1. What is my vision (activate your endorphin level with a clear vision)?
  2. What do I want to achieve (activate your dopamine daily)?
  3. Why am I suitable for this and why I am appreciating the people that fight with me (take care of your serotonin level by empowering yourself and others)?
  4. How are the other thinking and feeling and how can I support and give something back (activate your oxytocin level by developing empathy and perspective for colleagues, employees and clients)?

The good news with the growth mindset is: It changes immediately. While you mindfully change your daily thinking practice, you will learn that all of a sudden there are no gender differences anymore. It is beautiful to work together and to achieve the maximum output as one team.

Thank you Maria for opening me the eyes and to bring this aspect to our current research “How to develop a Growth Mindset” – a framework that is currently developed by Naomi OlofssonLea Kalbfell and myself at Amaze Growth.

If you want to share your experiences on this topic or if you want to know more about what we do and what we offer, please don’t hesitate to contact us at any time.

Your Amaze Growth Team

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