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This blog is provided by Steve Terrell, President of Aspire Consulting.  It is a companion to his interview on Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future titled Learning Mindset for Leaders: Leveraging Experience to Accelerate Development that aired on September 1st, 2020.


In Learning Mindset for Leaders, I have attempted to distil some of the knowledge and insights I have gained over my 30+ year career in leadership development, including the deep research into global leadership development I undertook while earning my doctorate in the field. Through this research, I sought to understand how global leaders learned and developed the important competencies and skills they needed to become effective global leaders. The essence of the research results is what I now call Learning Mindset.

Learning Mindset is the “Killer App” of learning, growth, and development through experience. It is the master competency, the one competency to “rule them all.” It is especially important that global leaders have a Learning Mindset during challenging or difficult situations because those are the very experiences that offer significant risks of failure as well as opportunities for personal and organizational development.

Leaders with a Learning Mindset who encounter difficult challenges have a strong tendency to create value from the crucible of negative experiences. As a result, they create their own virtuous cycle of learning and performance, enabling them to learn more from their experiences, which in turn results in

their being more resilient and performing better in VUCA conditions. This leads to achievement of better results and reinforces the importance and value of the Learning Mindset.

A Learning Mindset is an attitude that predisposes you to be open to new experiences, to believe you can and will learn, and to intentionally grow and develop from your experience. The dimensions of a Learning Mindset form essential capabilities for global leadership and bear directly on global leaders’ efficacy in a crisis. Believing in one’s own learning and growth potential enables global leaders to face new challenges with confidence, tempered with humility. Openness to experience allows them to take in a wide variety of information and to process it with an appreciation of its potential value. Being motivated, willing, and desiring to learn focuses global leaders’ energies and attention on grasping new problems and sensing new possibilities. Curiosity about others urges global leaders to wonder how people in other cultures approach the pandemic, what they can learn from different points of view, and make new connections based on new insights. An attitude of discovery and exploration energizes global leaders to investigate the challenges presented by the coronavirus dilemma. Perhaps most important of all, global leaders with a Learning Mindset engage in experiences with an intention and willingness to gain something positive from every experience, including – and sometimes, especially – extremely difficult, thorny, and dangerous experiences.

When global leaders enact a Learning Mindset they are better able to envision and reach for stability beyond the volatility; create space to reduce uncertainty; understand and simplify the complexity; and eventually find clarity for their organizations amidst the ambiguity.

If you’d like to learn more about Learning Mindset, you can order the book Learning Mindset for Leaders: Leveraging Experience to Accelerate Development from Amazon here.


To become a more innovative leader, you can begin by taking our free leadership assessments and then enrolling in our online leadership development program.

Check out the companion interview and past episodes of Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future, via iTunes, Google Play, TuneIn, Stitcher, Spotify and iHeartRADIO. Stay up-to-date on new shows airing by following the Innovative Leadership Institute LinkedIn.


About the Author


Steve Terrell, EdD, is the President of Aspire Consulting, a management-consulting firm that specializes in developing leadership capabilities needed for success. Aspire helps clients Turn Vision into Reality, by defining the leadership capabilities needed to successfully execute the strategy, and by designing and implementing development solutions that build the required capabilities. Steve is a leading expert on global leadership, learning from experience, and Learning Mindset. His book Learning Mindset for Leaders: Leveraging Experience to Accelerate Development is a widely-used resource for leaders and practitioners who want to expand their ability to learn from experience.


Photo by Abby Chung from Pexels