Intelligence is important, but attitude is everything. Learn why recruiters should focus on a candidate’s outlook, rather than their IQ.
Common knowledge dictates that hiring the smartest applicant is the preferred route for the vast majority of recruiters. However, recent research has turned this standard practice on its head, revealing that objective intelligence isn’t nearly as important an indicator of future success as a can-do attitude and demonstrated perseverance.
Fixed vs. Growth Mindset
Stanford psychologist Carol Dweck, conducting research on the link between attitude and performance, found that people develop one of two types of core mindsets: fixed and growth. Those with a fixed mindset tend to see little room for personal growth and improvement - they believe they either are or aren’t good at something, because that’s just who they are. People with a growth mindset are the exact opposite; they believe that anyone can be good at something because abilities are defined by effort.
When challenges arise, people with a fixed mindset become hopeless and overwhelmed, not believing they’re capable of solving the problem in front of them. On the other hand, people with a growth mindset embrace challenges, viewing them as opportunities to learn and grow. These individuals are not easily discouraged by failure, according to Stanford psychologist Carol Dweck: “Failure is information - we label it failure, but it’s more like, ‘This didn’t work, and I’m a problem solver, so I’ll try something else.’”
Interestingly, Dweck found that people with a growth mindset outperformed those with a fixed mindset, regardless of IQ level. Thus, it stands to reason that recruiters should focus their efforts on candidates who demonstrate the resilience and can-do spirit associated with a growth mindset.
While your HR team can focus on recruiting the most resilient candidates, fostering a growth mindset among existing employees begins with effective management. Employers hoping to encourage high employee performance and perseverance in the face of challenges should focus on fostering positive engagement and collaboration in the workplace. Creating open lines of communication with your staff and regularly highlighting their accomplishments - rather than their failures - will reinforce their value to the organisation and encourage positive momentum as they build on their successes.
In addition, employers can foster intellectual diversity in the workplace by welcoming employees to voice their unique perspectives, especially if they go against the grain of the company’s status quo. This diversity of thought may lead to conflict, but according to Google’s former Vice President of Engineering Bill Coughran, “creative abrasion” is productive.
Welcoming diversity of thought and perseverance in the face of perceived failure is key to fostering a growth mindset among employees, and thereby building a foundation for your organisation’s future success.