8 mindsets that will reshape the future of work experience

To make sense of the world, we rely heavily on our frames of reference. These references, we call them ‘mentalities‘, are intrinsically correlated to our motivation and guide our decision-making, our daily actions and our self-determination.

In the field of psychology, we refer to the state of mind as a set of assumptions, methods or notions held by one or more people. Mindsets are considered deep and ingrained beliefs and they can take various forms. This makes sense given that we all come to life with unique genetic makeups. We have different aptitudes, carrying capacities and abilities. That’s biodiversity – it’s kind of a given. From there, however, we learned some trends. From our earliest experiences, we formulate stories that continue to shape how we view the world before us. Specifically, how we frame situations and put them into perspective tends to impact how we think, feel, and behave. Now, here’s the catch: depending on the main mindsets, assumptions, notions, and methods we hold, we end up displaying different sets of leadership styles. Depending on our awareness and ability to differentiate ourselves, we end up exhibiting a variety of behaviors that can impact the type of climate we present to others and the organizational culture. forms our individual behaviors.

In our two-year collaborative study with the Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education at Stanford University (CARAC), we found that there are eight new moods which can have a positive climate effect within organizations as opposed to pre-existing prevailing mindsets in society and our workplaces. These mindsets include care (above control), abundance (above scarcity), well-being (above well-being), production (above defensive), interdependence (above self-direction), collective (individual), growth (above fixed), and reflection (above action).

In this article, let’s share three examples of these eight mindsets and their traditional comparisons, how they manifest themselves and create a certain dynamic within organizations.

Take care of the control mindset

Our experiences at work and in life in general are defined by “micro moments”. They are unique moments of connection that we establish in a given environment. They can take the form of eye contact, a smile, or just being there. Of course, most of our work experiences are shaped by control mindsets. It is the degree of regulation perceived within a given environment (ie at home, at school or at work). They are environments primarily composed of conscious and unconscious policies and procedures. Under these roofs, people look at each other in indignation. Not only is this learned, but such caution is natural because when we have a controlling mindset, we tend to avoid our emotions. Stress hormones kick in, we become more fearful of the unknown and resistant to potential change. When prolonged, this type of state manifests itself in actions of overt or covert transgression.

In positive and high-performing work environments, we find that there is more kindness in culture, a scientific construct that impacts how people present themselves and relate to one another. It is the degree of affection and compassion that people feel and express towards each other. In the presence of a caring mindset, there is a higher record for modeling positive value-based behaviors. In this state, the brains of donors and recipients release positive neurotransmitters that expand their ability to offer and achieve emotional transcendence. As a result, there is more openness, an increased sense of connection. Within these organizational cultures, we recorded that workers experience lower absenteeism, less burnout, greater teamwork, and greater job satisfaction. Because of its measurable value, companies such as PepsiCo, Southwest Airlines, Whole Foods Market, The Container Store, and Zappos have begun to explicitly include kindness in their leadership principles.

Abundance rather than scarcity

A scarcity mindset focuses on what’s missing – all the time. In this state, we tend to perceive that everything is limited in the environment – time, money, love. As a result, we find ourselves consciously or unconsciously preoccupied with what can go wrong most of the time. This also applies to work environments. Those who lead with a scarcity mindset in their culture pay a high price. When resources (compensation, opportunity, recognition) are perceived as limited, paranoia, fear and politics thrive. In this state, people become worried about their future and afraid of making a mistake. Consequently, often teamwork and innovation suffer.

abundance mindset is an alternative orientation. Abundance is a wealth of something. An abundant mindset fuels our confidence because we know there is enough in the environment and we can spare what is available on the things that matter most. Those who lead with an abundant mindset broaden perspective, better integrating needs, timelines, and experiences to allocate resources more wisely. In this state, employees find the space and sources to connect to their purpose, creative thinking, and stakeholder management. In other words, within such environments, individuals are free from future anxiety. Therefore, they can better coordinate their aspirations and collaborate in action, which results in higher sense formation. Naturally, organizations with this mindset become more profitable, and it’s not because they focus on competition, but rather because they focus on creating opportunities and synergies.

Growth versus a fixed mindset

A fixed mindset believes that our abilities are preset and cannot be changed. When we lead with such beliefs, we become compressed in our opinions and energy, tend to timid away from challenges because we may not want to feel embarrassed or humiliated in front of others. This is often problematic because our fear of making mistakes can lead us to avoid challenges and new experiences that could help us grow and unlock our potential with others.

A growth mindset is the belief that our basic abilities can be developed and improved through dedication and effort. When we adopt a growth mindset, our muscles relax, we breathe easier, and our inner capacity expands dramatically. As a result, we become willing to lean into the effort required to develop our potential the way we want it to come to life. Such a state can help us focus on the opportunities ahead and discover more joy in the process, because we know that we value learning and discovery over what others may think of us. Neuroscience shows us great organizational benefits of adopting a growth mindset. Because our energy radiates contagiously, when we approach possibilities with an open mind, we become more collaborative and our collective resilience grows over time.

We start realizing now in the 21st century that our human condition is more complex than any economic outcome and that our world is not just a place of competition, everyone has their place. Yet it is still not the same as educating people to think, to feel, to have different relationships. In fact, the reality is that the majority of us, as adults, are extremely well trained in one way of thinking, feeling, and relating.

It’s an invitation to imagine what our life and work experiences might look like if we learned to relate to ourselves and everyone or everything around us in a different way. Our research shows that being in a positive mindset can improve the leadership experience and collective productivity at the organizational level. The different personalities we become and the effectiveness or ineffectiveness of our response naturally determine our next set of life experiences.

This is a simple yet very powerful way to explore the potential of our future organizations. For more information on the new states of mind favorable to 21st leadership of the century, you can refer to our mini-course on LinkedInLearning.

Maria D. Ervin