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Can the right mindset save our jobs from the AI takeover?

“With the right mindset, we can’t lose, we either practice what we’ve learned or we learn what we need to practice.” Noura

A few months back I wrote a series of pieces on the importance of soft skills for the development of a future-proof career. Throughout the various articles, one of the concepts that I mentioned often is ‘mindset’, mainly to indicate specific ways in which we act, think and respond to the world around us and that can help us navigate complex situations and make difficult decisions.

According to the American psychologist Carol Dweck a mindset is a set of beliefs that determine the way we learn, work and behave in any given situation. In other words, mindsets are mental attitudes that shape our view of the world and how we feel and think about it as well as our approach towards problem-solving and decision-making, and, ultimately, they play a key role in determining whether we succeed or not. Dweck’s book ‘Mindset: How You Can Fulfil Your Potential’, which was originally published in North America as ‘Mindset: The New Psychology of Success’, includes the main takeaways from a career dedicated to researching how we learn and which mindsets lead to success.

Many mindsets for different situations

A key aspect of mindsets is that they can be acquired and shifted fairly quickly, as long as we are regularly exposed to new experiences and perspectives and we are open to embrace them, unlike certain skillsets that might require a significant amount of practice before they can be mastered. In addition, mindsets provide an overarching thinking framework that can be easily transferred from one context to the other. Research shows that something as little as reading a book or speaking someone who inspires us can provoke a significant mental shift by creating new neural connections, especially in those individuals who are highly receptive to it.

The literature on the topic is full of different mindsets, depending on the specific scenario and perspective considered, and they are often considered as a continuum between two opposite mental positions. Each individual will be somewhere on that continuum and has the opportunity to shift thanks to different experiences and behaviours. The best-known mindset is probably the ‘growth mindset’, a name coined by Carol Dweck because it arguably underpins the ability to develop any of the others. Its importance lies in the fact that someone who has this mindset strongly believes in the possibility to develop any ability at any given time, thanks to the neuroplasticity of our brain that allows us to learn new things and change our attitudes and beliefs. As opposed to the idea of a fixed mindset that is based on the assumption that we are born with a certain level of intelligence and ability that cannot be improved. These two opposed mindsets influence the way in which we see everyday factors like failure, we make a decision, we assess risk or communicate with others.

Another important mindset is the ‘opportunity mindset’, that can be particularly useful in situations like the COVID pandemic when people with this mental approach took the lockdown as an opportunity to develop a skill or improve themselves in a way that they couldn’t have done under normal circumstances. Other examples of useful mindsets in the business world are the ‘beginner’s mindset’ and ‘entrepreneurial mindset’. Possessing the first one means that we are open, curious and comfortable in questioning the status quo and embracing new and innovative ways of thinking and doing things. Similarly, the entrepreneurial mindset - despite what the name might suggest - is crucial not only for entrepreneurs but can also be a powerful tool to manage uncertainty and complexity in any situation. Key aspects of this mindset are, among others, comfort with risk, critical thinking, problem solving and opportunity recognition.

Why are mindsets important now more than ever?

Many of the current discussions across all sectors revolve around the rapid development of AI tools like ChatGPT and how they may affect the relevance and importance of certain professions. As a result, we are regularly re-evaluating which skillsets and knowledge areas will be essential in the future. Although reflecting on this is extremely useful, the truth is that it is now more difficult than ever before to predict what the skills of the future will be because technology will continue to evolve rapidly and many competences will become obsolete very quickly, even before we manage to truly master them.

On the other hand, one of the most fascinating and important aspects of thinking about our professional growth through the development of different mindsets is that we acquire a set of mental tools that can help us prepare for the unknown, regardless of its nature, by using a series of transferable mental attitudes. Ultimately, when it comes to highly unpredictable scenarios, all that we are in control of is our own way of responding to them. One element that differentiates us from artificial intelligence, at least up until now is that we can connect the dots and create innovative solutions to complex problems by looking at seemingly unrelated patterns through curiosity, empathy and creativity so we should focus on potentiating this ability to keep adding value in our profession.

Management consulting and mindsets

It can be argued that this is even more important for us as management consultants because we need the right mindset not only for our own individual professional development but also because we are called to distil complex information for our clients and to advise and guide them through complexity and the unknown. As a result, anyone who is or would like to invest in their career progression should, in addition to acquire traditional skills, reflect on how to develop the right mindsets and apply them in their day-to-day work with clients.


Valentina Lorenzon is a member of the CMCE Coordination group and editor of the CMCE newsletter.

Tuesday 12th December 2023
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