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If you’re a regular reader of this blog you know that I often make a distinction between training and mindset work. Maybe because of that I’m often asked if mindset training is possible. So today, I’d like to make mindset training the focus of this week’s blog.
To answer the question of whether mindset training is possible, let’s begin with reminding ourselves what we mean by skills training and mindset consulting.
Skills training – things like communication skills, negotiation skills, and leadership training – are based on the idea that people have an ability gap. The thinking is, if we teach people x, then that gap will be spanned and the person will be more efficient at what they do.
That makes sense. And for people who use and practice those skills it’s an approach that works. But that’s the rub: for those who use and practice those skills. It’s news to no one that going to a training course doesn’t make someone proficient at the skill in question. The skill has to be personally valued, and seen to be effective. And when those two things happen, a person is more likely to apply it.
Controlling those variables is often not in the gift of the trainer. They can’t control if a person sees value in the skill; and a person blocked to the value is unlikely to see the training as effective.
It’s what makes skills-based training hit or miss with no comment on the trainer or the course in question.
Mindset consulting, on the other hand, looks to operationalize a shift in thinking. It gets different results because it starts in a different place. Rather than looking at the gap, it starts by understanding where a business wants to go and what factors might be getting in the way of achieving that. Of course, mindset consulting is most concerned with how people think and how that way of thinking might be making it tough to reach a business goal. Its premise is people behave a certain way because they think a certain way. Shift thinking and people have a different vista on which to look out. That change in landscape means new options are possible.
At Innate Leaders, our two-step mindset consulting focuses on creating that shift and then applying the new perspective to real-world challenges. At that point we’re in a position to operationalize the shift in thinking throughout a business or team. And that means being able to operationalize a change in behaviour across a business.
Mindset consulting avoids the problem of training because it doesn’t rely on people to use and practice a skill for the simple reason that if you see a new landscape, you can’t “un-see” it.
Mindset Training That Isn’t
So to be clear, when I talk about mindset training I’m not talking about the kind of training we see quite often where a cynical training provider sticks “mindset” on their course names to keep in vogue. That might seem funny to you, but I’ve seen many providers offer communication mindset training, and management mindset training among others, just to differentiate themselves in the market.
The kind of mindset training I’m talking about is the kind that understands that tagging mindset onto a course name is disingenuous at best and, deceitful at worse.
When Mindset Training Works
Here’s the direct answer to the question posed in this blog: mindset training works if it doesn’t attempt to do the job of skills-based training, but instead focuses on training the mind to think differently.
That means mindset training isn’t about filling a skills gap or solving business challenges. Instead mindset training seeks to do something else entirely: invite people to see how their current way of thinking either helps or hinders them; and introduce them to a different way of thinking that opens up new insights and behaviours.
We do that at Innate Leaders by creating interactive challenges that encourage people to experience the pros and cons of the way they think. Just like mindset consulting, when people see what works and what doesn’t work about how they think, they can’t “un-see” it. And that’s how we avoid the “use and practice” trap of skills-based training.
Most people I know who see their thinking is getting in the way of their success are motivated to do something about it. And because mindset training is personal – it’s for the people in the room – the motivation to act is also personal; not organization-wide like mindset consulting.
So yes, mindset training can work. Used judiciously, it can offer a glimpse into another way of thinking and the motivation to explore new ways of behaving.
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What to dive deeper?
Check out The Six Attributes of a Leadership Mindset by Joe Britto
Facing a people challenge?
Our approach starts with an interactive experience. We work with your teams to develop the six attributes of a leadership mindset that enables them to work together, model leadership, and come up with solutions themselves.