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Mastery & The Growth Mindset

“Mastery is not a function of genius or talent. It is a function of time and intense focus applied to a particular field of knowledge.” Robert Greene

When we step into leadership, there are a number of realizations we begin to process. What do I need to do? How will I do it? What are the requirements and expectations? To what extent will I be measured? These are but a few of the questions one may ask when we accept the mantle of leadership.

Most organizations, and I offer that with a grain of salt, have some type of growth and development pathway which will provide the skills, abilities, and knowledge for the new leader. Maybe it will be some type of job responsibility checklist or list of duties and responsibilities. It is here where we feel some tension. Will this knowledge make me a better manager or a better leader? What will get the most attention, and which one will get the bigger focus? (More on that in another post.)

Whether this is a personal development pathway, or for your team, or something your organization is building and maintaining, if you want to plan for success, you have to plan for developing your skills.

Mastery in leadership

Mastery can be loosely defined as having a comprehensive understanding and knowledge of a thing. It is a degree or level of competency in something; to know it exceedingly well. More than just knowing how to do a job, it is a confidence in what and how one executes their job.

I believe mastery is more than skillset, or one’s ability to do their job. I have begun to see it come from a deeper place. It is where our motivation is born. It is an internal personal urging. It is a drive and focus to do better. To be better.

Start your professional development mastery plan today

Get a sheet of paper and a pen. Draft your answers to some or all of following questions:

  • What represents the ‘necessary and essential’ in getting a specific job done?
  • What are the hard skills, and how will they be delivered?
  • What are the soft skills, and how will they be delivered?
  • What represents my source for knowledge, understanding, and learning?
  • What are the tripping points in my growth and development?
  • If I am not getting what I need, what represents another way to get what I need?
  • How much time, energy and effort am I devoting to my ongoing growth and development?
  • What will be my measures of success or failure?

Pause and reflect, as an individual, with your team, or as part of your organizational strategy. Consider how these questions commit to fostering mastery in your point of view. The answers will provide a perspective into the ways and means of doing something exceedingly well. Ask the question and consider how the answers connect.

What will the answers do? Nothing – the one who asks must create movement and momentum into “how to influence and stimulate mastery”. In the individual, team, or business.

Moreover, it becomes less about the engine that builds the skill set. Less about the system or platforms that increase our knowledge, understanding, growth and development, and learning, and more about the way we use and leverage what we know into mastery.

It is here where I challenge you, the reader. A word comes to mind as it pertains to living out our mastery. 


Why resourcefulness is important in leadership

Resourcefulness is the ability to utilize the skills, abilities, and knowledge in what we are given. It is the effort to find creative ways to work through situations. When we face obstacles, issues, problems, or hard circumstances, we look for solutions. With ingenuity, patience, purpose, and passion, we tap into our “know how” to connect the dots and embrace our new opportunities.

In the book Coach Wooden’s Pyramid of Success, legendary basketball coach John Wooden says,

“Resourcefulness is using our wits, proper judgment and common sense to solve problems and meet challenges. It is using initiative in difficult situations and involves inventing, creating, imagining, synthesizing, evaluating, classifying, observing and analyzing solutions to overcome the trials that life throws at us. Resourcefulness is dreaming up ways to meet our goals.”

I have recently read that resourceful leaders find a way to achieve their goals. They are skilled in thinking creatively, generating ideas, decision making, and identifying alternative ways of accomplishing any given activity. 

Resourceful people are imaginative and can visualize how to achieve the seemingly impossible. 

Determination enables them to stay the course and emerge victorious. Resourcefulness is born out of an appreciative sense of mastering what we know and how we do it.

For me, an obvious benefit of mastery is how it enhances self-discovery, personal development, self-improvement, and self-worth. It helps us reflect on our current skills and determine if there are things we need to strengthen or develop. If we do this…if we can accept the “what, why, how and to what extent” of our mastery, we will get better. We will become resolute and resilient, and know our mastery is one step at a time, one day at a time in our growth mindset journey.

How to foster mastery development

  • Adopt an immersive learning strategy by putting yourself and your team into problem-solving scenarios
  • Utilize ongoing role-play activities to work though real-life situations
  • Plan consistent opportunities to challenge the status quo with creative thinking
  • Assign assessments – personal and 360s – to evaluate skill sets and identify growth opportunities
  • Look at your delegation process and how you are developing your bench

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