You May Be Smarter Than a Kindergartener, But…

This fall, I have been watching the local kids’ wrestling club practice. The children range in ages from Kindergarten through 2nd grade. My son is 1 of about 40 children who participate weekly. The coaches conduct drills designed to impart better understanding and appreciation for the sport. The rules are focused on showing respect and having fun, the coach focuses on their experience.

What is remarkable, to me, is that most of these kids show great attitude coupled with a positive mindset. Despite their general lack of skill in a physical sport, the kids take the coaching well. They try again and again, despite getting thrown around by more experienced wrestlers. The coaches and our local schools teach the children growth mindsets and the power of “yet”. If the students can’t do something, it’s simply “yet” to be done. They take it to heart and forge on.

As I look at the business world, I see many people who may be intelligent but lack a positive attitude and “yet” mindset of these young kids. Many colleagues/workers complain when work becomes difficult; they blame others. There is no extra effort to try and problem solve. In the workplace, have we lost our coaching culture and instead become a generation of “tellers”? Do we expect our team members to problem solve or have we made it easy for them to be mediocre by telling them what to do?

Here are some ideas to foster better attitudes and mindsets in the workplace:

  • Take the time to help someone else. Get involved with onboarding new employees. This fosters a team environment and starts to ingrain the culture in new employees.
  • Be ruthless about hiring new team members. Make sure candidates exhibit the type of traits you are seeking. Ensure that they fully understand their role BEFORE you hire them.
  • Be a culture carrier. Help effect change where needed. Don’t sit back and wait for others to take the lead.
  • “Management” is doing things right; “leadership” is doing the right things in the right way. There is a difference.

Attitudes are contagious. I often see managers say the right things but don’t follow through themselves. There’s a saying in I heard many years ago relating to wrestling, – “where the head goes, the body goes.” Think about that in terms of your team. Are you modeling the behavior and attitude that you want from your team? As a leader when you face adversity, how do you handle it? It does not help your cause if you say one thing and do another.

My son continues to wrestle. The skills that he is learning have carried over to his school work and home life in terms of attitude and mindset. He has more confidence. He’s become more inquisitive.

Being intelligent is important in the workplace. However, there is much more to success. Mindset and attitude, coupled with intelligence, separate wishful thinkers from successful employees. So, you may be smarter than a kindergartener, but….