When you succeed I succeed?

You might think that this is a weird question but it is something I have been thinking about a lot lately in the work I do on collaboration with leaders but also have my own experiences of setting up Collaborating Out Loud CIC.

I want to start with the great work of Carol Dweck on growth mindset. I love this work and fits so nice with where I strive to work every day Carol did research with children initially and identified two types of mindset, a growth mindset and fixed mindset. This work is as applicable to adults as children though.

A growth mindset is all about believing that you can try anything, have a go at anything and you will learn along the way. It celebrates trying and not being able to do things yet, but that doesn’t mean you can’t ever do them. Whereas people who have fixed mindsets believe that they are either good at something or not and think they will look silly if they try and fail. Of course nobody is one or the other but imagine the power if we all set out each day to do a little more growth mindset? Imagine the impact this would have on teams, workplaces and the work we do in public services.

One of the characteristics of a growth mindset that really resonates with me is the characteristics for those with a growth mindset that says ‘if you succeed, I am inspired (I also interpret this for groups with shared goals ‘when you succeed we succeed’. The opposite of this for those with fixed mindset is ‘when you succeed I feel threatened’.

So, this was in my head and then I started to see and experience lots of people feeling threatened when others succeeded. Then it got me thinking about this and what do we do about it. I decided the first thing was to name it and start a conversation. So, here I go.

What do I see and experience, these bullets probably sum it up:

  • People in formal positions of ‘power’ in organisations and systems not wanting to use the power of social connections as this would mean letting go and giving up something (what do we really control anyway?)
  • People who use the word collaboration frequently when talking about others but when it comes to them it’s a concept they don’t engage in authentically
  • People starting lots of new and similar things rather than building on or connecting in with what is already happening. We all want our own thing and can’t we all do our own thing and generous share, connect, and succeed?
  • People pretending that a lot of stuff isn’t happening. There is a lot of ‘I will just ignore that and it will go away’ attitudes about. Imagine if we could start with the point that everyone has positive intent and embrace rather than side line the things that can help.

Then I started to think ‘well why is this happening’ and I truly believe it is because people feel threatened, there is a prevalence of scarcity mindset and people genuinely don’t know how to work in another way. I don’t think the intentions are bad in most cases.

So how can we come together and learn, share, (even fail sometimes) and ultimately succeed together to tackle the major challenges we face on public services.

For me, the first step in this is to open up what we are doing more, share generously and be happy when we see others adopting the messages we are spreading. I think this sounds simple and in reality for many it is hard. I know myself I sometimes see things and get that tugging feeling in my stomach saying ‘how dare they steel my ideas’ but actually most of what we do isn’t unique and can be so much stronger when it is connected and we truly foster a spirit of collaboration

Nobody is perfect at this, including me and nobody will get it right all the time but we need to encourage people to try and do it differently and I really believe if we can lead with growth mindsets and generosity, that there is enough energy right now in Greater Manchester, the north west and beyond for us to make a huge difference to communities and people rather than maintaining what we have always done.

I would love to hear people’s views?