I wrote in a previous article that the global workforce is made up of 40% women of which 24 % are in senior management roles. So, what is it that stops women putting themselves forward for executive board positions, instead of opting for non-executive roles? In my previous post I identified the 3 invisible challenges that stops women applying for these opportunities; Belief and validity in a fair recruitment process, Mental Strength, Confidence and self-belief. Two of the three challenges directly apply to factors that stop women applying.

Napoleon Hill coined the phrase “positive mental attitude” in the 1930’s later developing the importance of positive thinking which still has relevance today. Academic research has progressed and thanks to the decades of work and research, Dr Carole Dweck wrote her book, Mindset (2006) and in 2012 she gave an interview and defined fixed and growth mindsets:

Napoleon Hill coined the phrase “positive mental attitude”

“In a fixed mindset, people believe basic abilities, intelligence, talents, are just fixed traits. They have a certain amount and that’s that. A growth mindset understands that talents and abilities can be developed through effort, good teaching and persistence. They don’t necessarily think everyone’s the same or anyone can be Einstein, but they believe everyone can get smarter if they work at it”.

In addition, as part of Dweck’s study she found that students with fixed mindsets will reject opportunities to learn and grow, if it means avoiding failing. The fear of failure is so strong and binding…….so is it this that holds women back?

Developing a growth mindset.

It could be argued that developing a growth mindset is significantly more central to building mental strength and confidence in women, as the first step to enable women to even want to apply for executive board positions.

A growth mindset can be developed, use these 5 steps:

  1. Recognising a fixed mindset – This is the first step in recognising how your thoughts, actions and responses to opportunities are becoming limited and stopping you progress.
  2. The secret ingredients Energy & Passion – In order to transition into a growth mindset, you must have the commitment, energy and passion to learn and develop yourself.
  3. Activating a growth mindset approach – Be true to yourself and identify your areas that need development or a little more refinement, shying away will only avoid development, growth and progression.
  4. Set yourself a challenge – Get specific and set yourself a goal, progression comes, and confidence builds as part of the journey, it’s not all about the end result.
  5. Failing is natural, you are human! – We often view failure as absolute, which is unfounded – remember, you have just not got there yet!

Once you have the right mindset, then you need the skills which can be developed.