• Ioana Axinte

What is the difference between skillset and mindset and why it matters?

Your skillset will help you transcend your environment, but your mindset will help you unlock your extraordinary life.

“Life isn’t about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself.” – George Bernard Shaw

For more than 18 years of our lives, our main focus was on "memorising" knowledge. Of course things have changed over time and now we have Google :) but mostly we teach in the same way and all the effort and attention is put on developing knowledge, skills and abilities. These are important areas to develop, but we sometimes forget that in order to live a fulfilling life we also need to develop other areas as well - "we need a new education model that serves the whole human".

Now, why our beliefs, attitude and mindset play such a crucial role in our life?

Mindsets matter because they shape the way we view the world and can constrict or expand the way in which we engage in life. Our mindsets grow out of the experiences we have.

They play a critical role in how you cope with life's challenges. In school, a growth mindset can contribute to greater achievement and increased effort. When facing a problem such as trying to find a new job, people with growth mindsets show greater resilience. They are more likely to persevere in the face of setbacks while those with fixed mindsets are more liable to give up.

I have created the diagram below reflecting the relationship between knowledge, skills, and mindset. Upon reflection, which areas are you investing most of your time developing?

20 years ago we didn't have access to the current research and more and more innovative organisations have started paying attention to the top part of the triangle - because in the current day, you need people that are self-aware, that have high self-efficacy and also have the ability to apply the skills and knowledge in their area of expertise.

What is the difference between an average and a top performing team? an average company or high performing one? I think you can already guess: it is the people's attitude, beliefs and mindset aligned with the company's mission, vision and strategy.

Can people really change? Can companies?

Through time, humans have shown an immense capacity for change, revolution, invention and exploration. No more than in the past few generations. Yet the question lingers; can we really change?

Let's look at another example - Your Organisational Culture.

What individuals and groups of committed people can achieve, is immense. Mindsets are the core determinant of success versus failure. Do people look for the way through knowing there is one? Or do they give up at some point because they don't believe it really is possible?

The power of individual perception is fundamental to how we create reality. We see what we expect to see. Our limitations are mostly self-imposed. In organisations, those limitations are group mindsets that manifest in behavioural norms and what is accepted around here.

Culture is the environment that surrounds you at work all of the time. It is a powerful element that shapes your work enjoyment, your work relationships, and your work processes. However, culture is not something that you can see, except through its physical manifestations in your workplace.

In many ways, culture is like personality. In a person, the personality is made up of the values, beliefs, underlying assumptions, interests, experiences, upbringing, and habits that create a person’s behavior.

Cultural Web model, Gerry Johnson and Kevan Scholes in 1992

Whether you can define it or not, you know that culture exists. It's that ethereal something that hangs in the air and influences how work gets done, critically affects project success or failure, says who fits in and who doesn't, and determines the overall mood of the company.

The Cultural Web model identifies six interrelated elements that help to make up what Johnson and Scholes call the "paradigm" – the pattern or model – of the work environment. By analysing the factors in each, you can begin to see the bigger picture of your culture: what is working, what isn't working, and what needs to be changed. The six elements are:

  1. Stories – The past events and people talked about inside and outside the company. Who and what the company chooses to immortalise says a great deal about what it values, and perceives as great behavior.

  2. Rituals and Routines – The daily behavior and actions of people that signal acceptable behavior. This determines what is expected to happen in given situations, and what is valued by management.

  3. Symbols – The visual representations of the company including logos, how plush the offices are, and the formal or informal dress codes.

  4. Organizational Structure – This includes both the structure defined by the organization chart, and the unwritten lines of power and influence that indicate whose contributions are most valued.

  5. Control Systems – The ways that the organisation is controlled. These include financial systems, quality systems, and rewards (including the way they are measured and distributed within the organisation).

  6. Power Structures – The pockets of real power in the company. This may involve one or two key senior executives, a whole group of executives, or even a department. The key is that these people have the greatest amount of influence on decisions, operations, and strategic direction.

Culture is made up of such traits shared by a group of people. Culture is the behavior that results when a group arrives at a set of generally unspoken and unwritten rules for working together.

Culture = behavior. Culture describes the behaviors that represent the general operating norms in your environment. Culture is not usually defined as good or bad, although aspects of your culture likely support your progress and success and other aspects impede your progress.

Culture is learned. People learn to perform certain behaviors through either the rewards or negative consequences that follow their behavior.

People shape the culture. Personalities and experiences of employees create the culture of an organization. For example, if most of the people in an organization are very outgoing, the culture is likely to be open and sociable.

Culture is Negotiated. One person cannot create a culture alone. Employees must try to change the direction, the work environment, the way work is performed within the general norms of the workplace.

Culture can be changed. Culture change requires people to change their behaviors. It often is difficult for people to unlearn their old ways of doing things and to start performing the new behaviors consistently. Persistence, discipline, employee involvement, kindness and understanding, organisation development work, and training can assist you to change a culture.

But why wait when you can start creating high-performing behaviors right now?

Culture is just a reflection of your peoples' beliefs, attitude and mindset. Therefore if you want to change to a different behavior, you need to work with people's beliefs, attitude and mindset and we've create bespoke training programmes that does just that.

Find out more about our programme here.

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