Grit is living life like it’s a marathon, not a sprint.  -Angela Lee Duckworth

Think of a leader you admire who has grit.

How does grit impact their leadership effectiveness?

In her 2013 TED Talk, The key to success? Grit, Angela Lee Duckworth describes grit as follows: “Grit is passion and perseverance for very long-term goals. Grit is having stamina. Grit is sticking with your future, day in, day out, not just for the week, not just for the month, but for years, and working really hard to make that future a reality.”

Grit is helpful for all leaders, but it’s especially important for senior executive women. According to recent research by McKinsey, grit is 1 of 3 key capabilities that help women thrive (along with confidence and resilience).

“Grit is usually unrelated or even inversely related to measures of talent,” according to Duckworth. One thing that can help develop grit is having a growth mindset, believing that your ability to learn is not fixed—that it can change with effort.

According to Carol Dweck, author of Mindset: The New Psychology of Success, leaders with a growth mindset focus more on learning than approval. They view setbacks as opportunities for growth, so they fail fast, learn quickly, and move on.

Here are 3 approaches to help leaders develop a growth mindset:

      1. Reframe mental models. As the word “mindset” implies, how you see yourself and your abilities is key. Mental models are the underlying patterns of perceptions, thoughts and emotions that guide our behaviors and actions. We all have them, and they frequently appear as self-talk when we’re faced with stressful situations.

        Mental models can help and serve us, but they can also hold us back. When this becomes the case, it can be helpful to reframe them.

        For example, if a leader has a mental model that says, “Failure is a sign of weakness,” then it might be challenging for this leader to embrace failure as a learning opportunity and develop a growth mindset. To reframe this mental model, you might ask the leader:

        • What self-talk do you have around failure?
        • How do your current beliefs support a growth mindset?
        • How might they be getting in your way?
        • What mental model reframe would help you develop a growth mindset?

      2. Engage with mistakes. In Carol Dweck’s 2014 TED Talk The Power of believing you can improve, Dweck shares a question: Do you run from an error, or engage with it? Leaders with fixed mindsets tend to run; while leaders with growth mindsets believe their abilities can be developed, so they engage deeply when they make mistakes. Does your organization’s culture encourage leaders to engage with their mistakes, or run? What can you do to help foster a growth mindset on your team?

      3. Provide process feedback. One way to develop a growth mindset in others, according to Dweck, is to praise process measures, such as progress, strategy, and effort. When you push someone out of their comfort zone and praise their effort, you grow their capability – which is one reason why stretch assignments are so powerful. Think about a leader you’re developing or mentoring. How might you shift the feedback you’re providing to emphasize a process focus?

To help your leaders thrive, develop grit.

Got grit? Find out your grit score by visiting the University of Pennsylvania’s online research study.

For more leadership insights, follow ECC on LinkedIn and Twitter. If you could use some help cultivating a culture where leaders thrive, call ECC at +1.847.920.0190.