If you have a fixed mindset, it’s time to change that into a growth mindset. If you think that the way that you look is more important than elevating others, then you have a negative mindset. When you’re focused on lifting others, you’re not focused on yourself. You’re not in self-protection mode. You’re in organization advanced mode. Join your host Michelle Seiler Tucker and her guest Ryan Gottfredson as they talk all about mindset and vertical development. Ryan is a leadership researcher and consultant. He is also the author of the book, Success Mindsets: Your Keys to Unlocking Greater Success in Your Life, Work, & Leadership. Listen to the conversation to learn how you can approach leadership with a fresh new mindset.
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The Right Mindset For Leadership: Changing From A Fixed To A Growth Mindset With Ryan Gottfredson
I’m so excited to welcome Ryan Gottfredson, PhD. He is a cutting-edge mindset author. We can all use a mindset coach right now, given the last two years we’ve been in. He’s a researcher and consultant. Ryan is a leadership and management professor at the College of Business and Economics at California State University. He holds a PhD in organizational behavior and human resources from Indiana University. He is also the author of Success Mindsets: Your Keys To Unlocking Greater Success In Your Life, Work, And Leadership, which is a Wall Street Journal and USA Today’s best-seller. Welcome to the show, Ryan. I’m so excited to have you on.
Thank you so much for having me, Michelle. This is great.
We needed a mindset coach before 2020, but now that we’ve been in 2020 and 2021, 1,000%, we all need a mindset coach, especially with employees now. I’m an entrepreneur in multiple companies. I do M&A, and I sell companies. One of the number one reasons business owners want this other business is because of employees. They’re like, “Michelle, I can’t take it anymore. My employees are driving me to drink and get old.” We’re selling a $55 million company now. They said, “My employees are holding us hostage. They came to us in one department, so we’re taking two weeks’ vacation for a holiday.”
We’re going at the same time. Even though the policies say you get one week, you have to get it approved ahead of time and you can’t go at the same time in this department. The owners of this business couldn’t go anywhere. They couldn’t do anything. This is a large company with 350 employees. How do we get our employees to do what we want them to do? I always say you spend more time at work than you do at home. It’s your second family. How do we work on our mindset as an entrepreneur and work on the mindsets of employees? Can you help us with this problem?
One of the things that I find interesting is that leaders, entrepreneurs or business owners can approach their organization in a couple of different ways. They can approach it more like a mechanic. As I’m in charge, I’ve got my shop. We need to get the cars in and out. I can make adjustments wherever I want in order to speed this up. That’s one approach to leadership. It’s a common approach to leadership.
Another approach to leadership is leadership as a gardener. One of the things that gardeners understand is they cannot force a plant or a tree to grow and produce fruit. Because of that, what they recognize is that they can create the right conditions for a plant or a tree to grow and produce fruit. That’s the only way to bring about growth in fruit. The better the conditions, the more the fruit and the higher the quality of the fruit.
The best leaders see themselves as this gardener that they are able to take care of the conditions in such a way that the employees grow, come to life, and produce the fruit they want. It’s a different form of leadership, maybe a little bit more of the command and control, “I’m going to incentivize you to grow.” The reality is it’s difficult to incentivize people to grow and produce fruit. We’re much better off cultivating our garden.
The interesting thing about that is you’re right about the controlled person. Most entrepreneurs are control freaks. We have the mindset that if we want it done right, we have to do it ourselves. We think everybody else should be like us. That’s what I find in most entrepreneurs, including myself, sometimes. What’s interesting is the company that I’m talking about is a grower. They grow and provide the best conditions to get the best crop. They get the best food out of the ground, but not necessarily the best conditions for their people. That was interesting that you used that analogy when that is the type of industry I’m referring to.
We need to think about this from the leadership perspective. Do the leaders have that right mindset, this gardener mentality, but do the employees themselves have effective mindsets? The first thing that we need to do is we need to help people awaken to their mindset. As I’m looking at you, you’re wearing glasses. These glasses shape how you see and interpret your world. I’m not somebody who wears glasses, but if my wife is. If she is not wearing her glasses, she can’t see the TV or the clock on the other side of the room.
Our glasses shape how we see and perceive our world. Our mindsets play that very same role. They shape how we see and perceive our world. Based upon how we see and perceive, we’re going to operate differently, such as, how do we see failure? Do we see failure as something that says about us, or do we see failure as an indication that we’re pushing the boundaries and this is going to be an opportunity for us to learn and grow?
People can see the same thing but interpret it very differently. The first thing we need to do is awaken to our mindsets because we’ve all got them, but I’m not sure if many people have awakened to their mindset. What I could do is quickly introduce a framework of mindsets that might be helpful to the readers. Would you be up for that?
One thing I was going to say is when I partner with business owners because we don’t sell businesses. We partner with business owners investing my money. I want to make sure they have the right mindset, core competencies, etc. I have always found out that you will never grow the business beyond what you can grow the owner. Let’s discuss your frame.
Michelle, I’m going to give you four desires and I want you to tell me whether or not society says these are good or bad desires. You could share what you think after you say what you think society thinks. The desires are the desire to look good, be right, avoid problems and get ahead. What do you think society says?
When you’re focused on lifting others, you’re not focused on yourself. You’re not in self-protection mode. You’re in organization advanced mode.
Society says to look good. If you look at all the fashion magazines, Facebook, Instagram and everything else, that is what’s hurting our teenagers nowadays. There’s a certain image out there that they feel like they have to look like. What was the second one?
Everybody wants to be right. Look at our country. That’s why we have so many problems on the road because everybody wants to be right. Number three?
Society is avoiding problems. That’s not what I think, but that’s what society thinks.
The last one was to get ahead.
One thousand percent.
Society says these are good desires. These desires are justifiable because to your point, who likes to look bad, be wrong, have problems or get passed up? Nobody does. The thing that we need to ask ourselves with these desires is, when we have these desires, where is our focus? When we’re focused on looking good, being right and avoiding problems, it’s on ourselves. These desires are fueled by what I call more negative mindsets. If we’re going to put labels on them, they’re fixed, closed, prevention and inward mindset.
When we have these mindsets and their associative desires, it’s justifiable. It makes sense, but it’s self-protecting. While we are socially incentivized to take on these desires, they’re not effective desires to lead or operate from as employees. There are better desires to have. Let me walk through these better desires.
The better desire is instead of wanting to look good, we should want to learn and grow. Instead of wanting to be right, we should want to find the truth. Instead of wanting to avoid problems, we should seek to reach goals. Instead of wanting to get ahead, we should have a desire to lift others. When people are focused on learning, growing, finding the truth, reaching goals and lifting others, they’re not focused on themselves. They are not even in self-protection mode. They’re in organization-advanced mode. They’re all about contributing and elevating the organization or people within it or the people that the organization is serving.
That’s true for employers and employees.
It’s not easy to get there. I’ve got a Mindset Assessment that people can take at my website, RyanGottfredson.com. I’ve had about 25,000 people take the assessment. What I found is only 2% are in the top quartile for all four sets of these mindsets. That means most of us to have some mindset work to do. The labels on the positive mindsets are growth, open promotion and outward.
If we can awaken to where we are on each of these continuums, we could get clarity about where we need to move the needle to be able to improve. I got off of a workshop with an organization. It has 300 employees and they all took my mindset assessment. What we found is that 67% or 2/3 of them have a fixed mindset.
They’re more focused on looking good than learning and growing. They have a tendency to hold on to what has worked in the past and are not very willing to embrace what is what they need to do to be successful in the future. They’re finding themselves falling behind the times because of the fixed mindset block.
Looking good is not how you look. It’s about looking good in the eye of your employer. A lot of times, people are comfortable being comfortable and don’t want to stretch and get comfortable being uncomfortable. They don’t want to take on new challenges and do new things because they don’t want to look bad in front of their boss. Is that true?
Yeah, for sure. There was a comment in this workshop where many people feel like they’re raised that they have to look good. My wife grew up with a mom who said, “If it doesn’t hurt, it’s not pretty.” That’s a fixed mindset mentality. You always have to look good and if you do something and fail or don’t come naturally to you, don’t do that. Do the other stuff. That’s a fixed mindset mentality as opposed to a growth mindset mentality.
That’s why it takes so long to change your habits because it comes from the way we were raised. That’s what I always say with my partners. I got different partners that had very bad childhoods. Some are neglected and abused. That’s where our learned behavior and fixed beliefs come from is in our childhood. Sometimes, you got to dig deep, make new habits and get rid of the old ones.
You bring up an incredibly important point. There is a connection between trauma and mindsets. One of the beautiful things about making that connection is what it suggests is that if we want to help people elevate in terms of their mindsets and effectiveness, we got to help them heal their minds. That’s why I do what I do. I want to help people heal their minds so that they can get past their limiting self-beliefs or mental blocks and become the person they want to become. What I’m going to talk about comes from the field of developmental psychology.
If you want to help people elevate their mindsets, you need to help them heal their minds first.
Developmental psychology has been around since the 1880s. From the 1880s until the 1960s, almost 100% of the focus was on child development because we can naturally see children develop before our eyes. They will develop as a function of age. They largely assumed that adults don’t develop once they reach adulthood. Since the 1960s, researchers have been studying adult development. What they found is interesting. One is that adults can develop in adulthood but then two, most adults do not. What they found is there are different levels of adult development.
The process of going up these levels is what I call vertical development. When we vertically develop, we’re enhancing our cognitive and emotional sophistication. There are three primary levels of adult and vertical development. What research has found is that 64% of all adults operate at that base level. They never develop beyond what they came into adulthood with. 35% operate in that second level and only 1% operate at that top level. When we focus on mindsets, we help people vertically develop through these different mind levels to get to that top level of adult development.
I’ve owned many different companies and partnered with different business owners. There’s an owner that I’m partnered with. He was neglected as a child and everybody in life left him. They self-sabotage, they are very difficult to work for because they’re like, “Everything is wrong.” They never focused on what was right. They always focus on what’s wrong because of wanting to test that individual to see if that employee is going to stay or not. If they’re going to be loyal to them or if they’re going to leave and abandon like everybody else did in their childhood.
That’s very important. That’s why I always say, “I wish I had an assessment before I partner with some of these owners because then I’m not going to partner with them.”
This mindset assessment is designed to help us see to what degree we are more self-protective. This person you’re talking about sounds very self-protective versus organization advancing or contributing to the greater good or the greater world within our sphere of influence.
We have a leadership assessment. I need to start using that with my leaders before I bring them in or my potential partners. How do you go about changing this baggage? Everybody has got baggage. Even if you had the perfect childhood, there’s still some baggage there because you might be a spoiled brat. If you’re the only child and not be able to work well with others. How do you go about changing this and how long does it take?
It’s not easy, but it’s easier than most people think. That’s one of the reasons why I love it. Everything that I’m going to say comes from this field of developmental psychology that speaks to this notion of vertically developing ourselves. I don’t think it’s too different than learning how to count to ten in a different language. Do you speak any other languages?
I speak Spanish but I only know the bad words. I do know how to count to ten in Spanish.
If we want to learn how to count to ten in a different language, whether it’s Spanish, German or whatever happens to be, the first step is we got to have the motivation to do so and believe that it’s possible. If I’m never going to go to Germany, there may be no point in me ever learning German. If I’m going to go there, then maybe I want to learn how to count to ten in German. If I believe that I can do it, we can move on to the next step.
The next step is we got to put words associated with the numbers. If I want to learn how to count to ten in Spanish, I need to know that uno means one, dos means two, tres means three, etc. The same thing goes with our mindsets. We got to put labels to our mindsets because if we don’t have labels and don’t understand what they are, we can never introspect about them. We got to start to learn the language of mindsets. That will allow us to deepen our self-awareness.
The third step is we need to practice. If I want to learn how to count to ten in Spanish, German or whatever, I need to spend 5 or 10 minutes a day. In the course of 3 to 4 weeks, I may become quite proficient in counting to ten in that language. What the science behind mindset says is the same thing happens. If we could spend 5 to 15 minutes per day over the course of 3 to 4 weeks, we would make significant shifts in our mindsets.
How do you know what to spend that time on? Does that come out of your assessment? I always say to focus on one thing. Many people try to fix so many things at once. There’s a book called The ONE Thing by Gary Keller that says pick that one thing. Do you advise them on what they should work on from the assessment? How does that work?
If you take the assessment, find the one that either is the most meaningful to you or where you scored the lowest and start there. Focus on that as your one thing. The mindset assessment includes resources to be able to work on them. Have you ever heard of The Five Minute Journal? This journal was given to me by a business owner. He’s a charismatic leader, and he hands me this journal. He says, “This book is going to change your life.”
The best leaders are those who don’t see leadership as a reward. They see it as a responsibility for stewardship.
I looked at it and I was outwardly gracious in saying, “Thank you so much. I loved books. This is fantastic.” Inwardly, I’m thinking, “There is no way in hell that I am journaling. I don’t know who you think I am, it is not me. I am not a journal.” I brought it home and set it on the desk and I picked it up to throw it in the trashcan. I said to myself, “He said it might change my life. Let me give it a try.” I told myself, “I’m going to give this two weeks. If I feel a difference, I’ll keep doing it. If I don’t feel a difference, I’ll toss it in the trash. No harm, no foul.”
What it does is it invites me every morning to write down three things I’m grateful for, three things that would make today great, and self-affirmation, and at the end of every day, what are three amazing things that happened and how could I make today even better. This is exactly a mindset tool because it’s something we engage in for about 5 to 15 minutes on a daily basis. It helped me shift from a prevention mindset to a promotion mindset.
I used to have this prevention mindset. I didn’t want problems to occur. I wanted to stay comfortable. I didn’t want to get out of my comfort zone. I never wanted to be an entrepreneur or start my own business. As I started to answer these questions, such as what are three things that would make now great and what are three amazing things that happened now, I started to think differently.
How do I make this day better than yesterday? How do I make this week better than last week? How do I make this year better than last year? I credit this book to me starting my own business, writing my book and ultimately getting on the Wall Street Journal and USA Today best-seller list. Had I never done this, it would never have happened.
Very successful leaders talk about journaling all the time. Tony Robbins talks about the affirmations and journaling at the end of every day based upon what you said. I do think that works, but is that going to change one’s baggage in making decisions and self-sabotaging based upon their childhood? I have another owner that has a third-grade education. This owner doesn’t want to hire anybody smarter than him because he doesn’t want to be intimidated by such. I could give you those examples all day long.
I’ve found working with leaders that about 50% of leaders need a tool or a nudge and they could run with it and see a pretty significant shift in their lives. With the prevention to promotion, I needed this, and this book helped. One of my other mindsets has been stickier, the mindset that has been stickier for me as the inward to the outward mindset. What I’ve learned as I’ve been on my own introspective and trauma healing journey is that I have some past trauma that makes it difficult for me to trust others. There was a little bit of neglect in my childhood. That has been the mindset set that has been difficult for me to shift.
Have you self-sabotaged before by testing people?
I’m not much of a tester. I’m more of an avoider. I avoid other people because I don’t trust them to be able to fulfill whatever I need them to do. The testers are more anxious and I’m more on avoidance.
The show is all about exit rich. You might be asking yourself, “What does this have to do with me exiting rich, Michelle?” You got to go back to my book, where we talk about the six Ps. The very first P in the six P is People. Why are people first? It’s because if you don’t have good people, you don’t have a business. You have a glorified job that you go to work at every day versus a business that works for you. Eighty percent of businesses on the market will never sell, according to Steve Forbes, who endorsed Exit Rich.
The number one reason for that is because business owners have built themselves a glorified job, not a business. You don’t build a business. You build people and people build the business. The number one reason why businesses are not sellable is because business owners are working in their business with their hands in every pot versus working on their business. You have to hire the right people and put them in the right seat. You have to ask the who question, who handles customer service, legal, quality control and billing. The list goes on and on. The clue is you should never be next to who.
A lot of business owners don’t hire the right people because they have not been trained on how they hire the right people. More importantly, if they hire the right people, they don’t always keep them because they have not been trained on the coaching and the mindset aspect of that. That’s why I bought Ryan in to talk about leadership and mindset because without building the proper teams, you will never build a sustainable business that you can scale. You will never have that better quality of life. You will never have a sellable asset. I wanted to start with that in the beginning, and I forgot because I got so excited to have Ryan here.
Let me try as best I can to validate what you’re saying here. I had the fortunate opportunity to have a couple of phone conversations with Alan Mulally, the former CEO at Boeing and Ford. We’re talking about leaders and how to help leaders develop. He said something very interesting. He said, “Most leaders from his experience see leadership as a reward.” It’s like, “I earned this. I got up on this pedestal, and now I could reap the benefits of being in this position.”
He said, “Those types of leaders never make great leaders. The best leaders are the leaders who don’t see leadership as a reward. They see it as a responsibility for stewardship.” It’s exactly what you’re saying is that a person who sees leadership as a reward is not going to value people. Somebody who sees leadership as the responsibility of stewardship will value people.
Always look for shining eyes. If you don’t see shining eyes, ask yourself, who am I being that their eyes are not shining?
When you were saying that, a leader that came to my mind was Sam Walton. He was one of the greatest leaders of all time. He was part of the people. He wasn’t up on his pedestal telling people what to do. He was in with the people as one of the people. In leadership, it’s so tough for most entrepreneurs because it’s not something that we’re taught in school or in college. A lot of times, your baggage is the way that you lead, coach or manage. You just need to get out of your own way. If you’re not a good leader, don’t have the desire to become a great leader because everybody can become a great leader if they have the desire, you need to hire one.
As you’re saying this, one of the other things coming into mind is Jim Collins’ book, Good to Great. In his book, he talks about a level five leader that is essential for organizations having transformational growth. He says that these level five leaders are people who have deep humility and intense will. That’s a description of what you’re talking about.
At the end of the day, we need leaders who have deep humility and intense will, but one’s capacity, at least at the moment, to be humble and to have this strong purpose-driven will is contingent upon the degree to which they have healed from their past trauma. The people who are not very humble are usually trying to make up for that because of something that has happened in their past. They have not yet healed from it. When we talk about helping people become these level five leaders, hopefully, that helps us see that we need to go through our own healing journey in order to get there.
That is part of your process. You help people heal because unless you can heal and move on, it’s going to keep creeping up. It’s something that people have to work on every day. It’s not something that you’re like, “I’m done. I’m over my past.” You have to journal about it. In this economy, given this pandemic, the new administration and lots of different things, it’s very difficult to manage employees. I told you about the example where all those employees walked out at the same time to take their two weeks’ vacation because they were holding the owners’ hostage.
When you put an ad out and try to advertise, go to LinkedIn, try to build your team and get the right people, it is very difficult these days. People are jumping ship, leaving and going from one company to another for a $1 raise an hour. How do you find the right people, train them up, coach them to get them to stay and not always be about the money?
What are your recommendations for that? It’s worse now than it has ever been before. A lot of companies are struggling. Target is paying $15 now. I know they want to raise the minimum wage, but you got plants and types of companies that can’t afford that. Warehouse workers, manufacturing and things like that can’t afford that. What are your thoughts there?
There are two ways to think about it. The first way is the one that we have already talked about. Are we creating an environment that other people and employees want to be a part of?
Let’s dig a little bit deeper there because I know my readers are like, “What do you mean by creating an environment?” I get them pizza every Friday. I do this and that for them. We’ve got to dig a little bit deeper there so my readers understand.
Part of this is bringing that gardener mentality into it as we’re creating these conditions. What do we need to think about when we create these conditions? There’s a gentleman named Benjamin Zander. He’s the Founder and conductor of the Boston Philharmonic Orchestra. He’s got a great story. During the first half of his career, he was the stereotypical conductor. He saw his musicians as instruments there to play the music the way that he wanted it played. If he could get them to play the music the way he wanted it played, he would get all of this notoriety.
Halfway through his career, he got this epiphany that, “While I may be the face of this orchestra, I don’t play a note.” This changed everything for him. It was life-changing. He went from seeing his musicians not as instruments but as people. He saw this job not as getting them to play the music the way that he wanted them to play it. His job was to get them to play the music the way they were most capable of playing it. He says, “Who’s going to produce more valuable music, the people who play the way that I make them play it or the people who play in the way that they’re best suited to playing it?”
Where he brings out the best in the strengths of those musicians is going to produce the most valuable music. As he talks about this, he has a question that is incredibly powerful. The question is, “When things are not going well, who am I being that their eyes are not shining?” He says, “All the time, I am looking for shining eyes. If I don’t see shining eyes, I’m asking, who am I being that their eyes are not shining?” That’s the first place that leaders need to start is, “Who am I being that their eyes are not shining?” I’ve got a suggestion in terms of another framework to focus on, but I want to see if you had any thoughts on that.
I love that because it goes back to what you said before about looking good. If the leader is all worried about looking good themselves, then they are not focused on the strengths of their people. It’s what you’re saying that he said. He wanted them to play the way he wanted them to play, so he looked good and got all these awards.
A helpful tool for leaders, if they’re not familiar with it, is Gallup. It’s an organization that focuses on employee engagement. They got an engagement measure that’s called the Q12. It’s twelve different questions that they have employees asked to determine the degree to which employees are engaged. It’s one of the best frameworks that I’ve found to think through a small amount, but also a variety of things that leaders should have on their radar.
These are things like, “Do the employees have the material and equipment they need? Are they given opportunities to operate according to their strengths? Are they given recognition on a weekly basis? Does somebody at work care about them as a person? Do their opinions count at work? Are they given opportunities for development?” There are twelve of these different questions. I’m a former Gallup employee. One of the things that I found fascinating is they’ve got these twelve questions, but I always wondered, “They’re all important, but is there 1 or 2 that is most important and so much data as I could, which was over 70,000 responses?”
If you feel like your voice matters, that means you’re going to feel like you’re cared about as a person.
I did some analysis and found that two of these items are more important than the others. It was eye-opening for me. The most important one was, “Do my opinions at work count?” What we found is that if an employee can give a five on a five-point scale so strongly agree that their opinions count at work, then 95% of those employees are engaged. This is in Gallup’s database who only has 35% of employees engaged. If they can give a five to, “My opinions count at work,” they’re going to be engaged.
The second one was, “Does somebody at work care about me as a person?” What we found is if they give a 1 through 4, meaning that they can’t strongly agree that somebody at work cares about them as a person, only 12% of those employees are engaged. Employees need to feel like their opinions count and that they were cared about as a person. Those are intertwined because if we feel our voice matters, that means we’re going to feel we’re cared about as a person.
That’s more important to them than money. The companies are saying, “People are jumping to another company for $1 or $2 more.” They are saying, “If you want to keep me, instead of paying me $1,200 a week, you got to pay me $1,600 a week.” Here’s a story to hear every day from my owners. What is that about? They think it’s about the money or the economy. What do you think is the underlying problem here? Is it that they’re not being heard, their opinions don’t count and they’re not feeling like they’re cared about as an employee?
People don’t leave their jobs, they leave their managers.
I got an example of a gentleman that has been at this company for fifteen years. He went and told one of the bosses, “You raise me to $1,600 or I’m out.” They said, “We treat him like a family. We take them on trips. We do all these things with him. We go to him for his opinion.” They say they’ve connected on those two levels because I knew about that already. I asked them those questions and they said they had already connected with him on those two levels. What are your thoughts there?
It’s tough to know the circumstances just on that surface level. It’s good that you’re asking those questions. Does this employee have a voice? Do they feel valued by the organization? An employee would not leave the organization if they didn’t feel valued by that organization. It then becomes, “Why aren’t you feeling valued?” For some people, that could be a voice, pay or recognition thing.
It is about the pay, too. A lot of employees leave to make more money. I interviewed a nanny. She was leaving her family that she loves and adores to make $1 or $2 an hour. I’m like, “I’m not going to hire you because you’ll be leaving me too for $1 or $2 an hour.” It is money too, but money is usually not in the top two. If this employee is not feeling valued, may be in your mind the only way they could feel valued was to get more per week or hour.
They probably don’t have the best mindset, to begin with. As you talked about this nanny that you interviewed, it seems like she’s more focused on what she makes than on adding value to your children.
That’s why she’s not getting hired.
These are people that we’re okay with them going because they don’t have the best mindsets, to begin with. They’re more concerned about themselves and self-protection than they are advancing the purpose of the organization or serving their customers.
You talk a lot about vertical development. What is vertical development and how does it differ from typical development efforts?
I don’t know if you get the sense, but at least I feel like I feel it. We’ve been talking about development in a deep, inner introspective way. Vertical development is all about elevating our ability to make meaning of our world with more cognitive and emotional sophistication. This is a unique form of development because most developmental efforts are horizontal development. Horizontal development is adding knowledge and skills. Let me give you an analogy that will make these come to life.
Horizontal development is like downloading an app onto an iPad. It’s good because it allows the iPad to do more than it could do previously. It can now do something that it couldn’t do before. It is beneficial, but it is a form of development that is limited because when you add an app onto an iPad, the iPad doesn’t necessarily operate any more effectively and quickly. It can’t do any more complex tasks. Vertical development is all about upgrading that iPad’s internal operating system. If we think about us, vertical development is about upgrading our internal operating system.
This is different than what most people are used to, which is the horizontal, but horizontal is only ever going to be incrementally helpful. It will never be transformationally helpful. That’s what vertical development can do. It’s deep. It’s getting at root traumas and healing from them. It’s awakening to our mindsets and shifting from going from self-protection mode to contribution mode. That might involve somebody learning to trust others.
That might be part of their journey so that they could overcome some of these mental blocks and barriers within their internal operating systems. Vertical development is underutilized and underknown, but it may be the most important thing for us to understand if we want to be the leader, person, or employee that we want to be.
This is great information because it’s not just for the entrepreneur who’s trying to lead their team and build the company. It’s for leaders of all departments, employees and for anybody because everybody is going to be a leader at some point. You lead your kids and spouse.
People don’t leave their jobs. They leave their managers.
We got our shit that we need to work through.
Are there any other great examples or resources that people can go to if they want to become better leaders? I encourage all of my readers who own companies that if you’re not going to take the time to become a better leader, make sure you get someone in your team who can lead your people because you will never be able to free yourself from your business without great leadership. That’s why we had Ryan on here.
Let me give me a few resources. If you’re a leader and you want to learn from some vertically developed leaders and how they take this gardener mentality, there are two books that stand out in my mind. One of them is Creativity, Inc. by Ed Catmull. He’s the Founder of Pixar Animation and also led Disney Animation when Disney bought out Pixar.
The second one is Hit Refresh by Satya Nadella, who’s the CEO of Microsoft. In the last couple of years, he has increased Microsoft’s stock price over ten times and it’s all been through a focus on mindsets. Those are some great case studies. There are also case studies that I use in my book, Success Mindsets. If somebody is not a leader or an aspiring leader, my book is approachable for anybody to dive into and awaken to their mindsets.
What’s the name of your book again?
It’s Success Mindsets: Your Keys To Unlocking Greater Success In Your Life, Work and Leadership. It has the mindset assessment in it, but even if you wanted to take a mindset assessment without the book, you could go to my website at RyanGottfredson.com.
What’s an example of some bad leaders? You named some good ones. Who are the bad ones? I could probably name a few.
The political system socially incentivizes people to look good, be right, avoid problems and get ahead. It’s a hard area to be an effective leader because we’re incentivized to take on the self-protective mindset. There are clearly some terrible leaders, but one of the leaders that are interesting to talk about and a little bit controversial is Jack Welch. Jack Welsh is somebody who grew this GE empire, but ever since he’s left, GE has crumbled.
He has implemented tactics like a stacked rank performance management system that seemed to pay some short-term benefits but had some long-term negative repercussions. The evidence of him not being an effective leader is even the title of one of his best-selling books, which is Winning. I don’t think a vertically developed leader would ever write a book called Winning. You get people like Satya Nadella’s Hit Refresh. Ed Catmull writes Creativity, Inc. This isn’t about them. The book is about creating.
Winning is something we would hear from Charlie Sheen. I spoke on stage with him. I had that opportunity to speak on the same stage and meet him. That’s funny.
I’m not saying that Jack Welsh is a bad person. I’m saying that the level of cognitive and emotional sophistication that he led was limiting him and his leadership. That doesn’t make him a terrible person. He was limited as a leader and there are probably things that he would even say he would go back and do differently, given the option.
Going back into those four things that we should be focused on. Instead of how we look, what should we be focused on?
Learning and growing. Instead of being right, we want to find the truth and think optimally. Instead of avoiding problems, reach goals. Instead of getting ahead, lift others.
That’s amazing. That’s why I wanted you to repeat it at the end. Any words of wisdom you want to leave our readers with?
Let me reiterate what we’ve talked about a few times already. If we want to do this vertical development work, it is all about healing ourselves. I’m writing a book that will come out later in 2022.
What’s the name of that book?
It’s called The Elevated Leader: Leveling Up Your Leadership Through Vertical Development. That will come out later this 2022. If you want to dive into this notion of trauma, there are two books that I would highly recommend. One book is called, What Happened to You? by Bruce Perry and Oprah Winfrey. It just came out. It’s the most approachable book on trauma that I’ve come across. It’s powerful.
The second book is called The Body Keeps The Score by Bessel Van Der Kolk. It is the deepest and most comprehensive book on trauma that I have read, but it’s also approachable. One of the things that I love about his book is he walks through different trauma healing approaches and the science behind them. I found that incredibly beneficial for myself. After reading that book, I have found myself a therapist.
I’m doing a form of therapy called EMDR. It’s Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing. I found it an incredible awakening and healing experience for myself. I’m a completely different person now than I was a year ago. It has been pretty powerful and I would recommend people look into it if they want to work on healing their minds.
Any other resources or last-minute thoughts?
That’s pretty good for now. I probably gave almost too much, but that’s all right.
Remind everyone again about your book and where they can get it.
Ryan, make sure everyone goes and takes that quiz on your website. I know you sent it to me, and I have not taken it as I’m too busy, but I will take it. Entrepreneurs, do not make that as an excuse like I did.
It’s only twenty questions. It takes five minutes and it’s a pretty comprehensive report that you get.
Do you work with individuals, groups or companies?
Leadership teams, companies as a whole, and individuals. All of the above. Oftentimes, when I work with these groups, it involves the mindset assessment. When I’m working with a leadership team or an organization as a whole, I put together a collective report for that group so they could see not only where they are but also where the group is as a whole. That allows for some transformational discussion. It’s a pretty powerful experience for these groups.
Ryan, you over-delivered. I appreciate all the golden nuggets and resources for our readers. I also appreciate all of my readers. Make sure you tune in to the show, share, like and read my book, Exit Rich, because it is, as Steve Forbes says, the best book to read so you’re not leaving money on the table and you can build that sellable asset. Sharon Lechter is my co-author who also wrote Rich Dad Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki. Make sure you get Exit Rich and share it with all of your family and friends. I can’t wait to have another episode. Thank you again, Ryan.
Thanks for having me, Michelle. This has been great. You have been a great host.
- Success Mindsets: Your Keys To Unlocking Greater Success In Your Life, Work, And Leadership
- Mindset Assessment
- The ONE Thing
- The Five Minute Journal
- Exit Rich
- Good to Great
- Creativity, Inc.
- Hit Refresh
- What Happened to You?
- The Body Keeps The Score
- LinkedIn – Ryan Gottfredson
- Rich Dad Poor Dad
About Ryan Gottfredson
Ryan Gottfredson, Ph.D. is a cutting-edge mindset author, researcher, and consultant. He helps organizations vertically develop their leaders primarily through a focus on mindsets. He helps improve organizations, leaders, teams, and employees by improving their mindsets. Ryan is currently a leadership and management professor at the College of Business and Economics at California State University-Fullerton (CSUF). He holds a Ph.D. in Organizational Behavior and Human Resources from Indiana University, and a B.A. from Brigham Young University
Ryan is the author of “Success Mindsets: The Key to Unlocking Greater Success in Your Life, Work, & Leadership.” (Morgan James Publishing), and Wall Street Journal and USA Today Best Seller.
He also works with organizations to develop their leaders and improve their culture (collective mindsets). He has worked with top leadership teams at CVS Health (top 130 leaders), Deutsche Telekom (500+ of their top 2,000 leaders), and dozens of other organizations.
As a respected authority and researcher on topics related to leadership, management, and organizational behavior, Ryan has published over 15 articles across a variety of journals including: Journal of Management, Journal of Organizational Behavior, Business Horizons, Journal of Leadership and Organizational Studies, and Journal of Leadership Studies. His research has been cited over 2,000 times since 2014.