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Influence of managers’ mindset on leadership behavior

Tae Kyung Kouzes (Doerr Institute for New Leaders, Rice University, Houston, Texas, USA)
Barry Z. Posner (Department of Management and Entrepreneurship, Santa Clara University, Santa Clara, California, USA)

Leadership & Organization Development Journal

ISSN: 0143-7739

Article publication date: 27 November 2019

Issue publication date: 27 November 2019




The purpose of this paper is to focus on exploring the link between managers’ mindset (fixed vs growth) and their choice of leadership behaviors.


The sample was drawn from a proprietary database provided by a global organization that offers 360-degree online leadership surveys. Individuals in management positions provided an assessment of their mindset orientation as well as how often they engaged in various leadership behaviors.


Growth-minded managers consistently displayed more frequent use of leadership behaviors than did their fixed mindset counterparts; and this relationship was independent of demographic or organizational factors.

Research limitations/implications

The findings are consistent with previous mindset research but prominently extend those results to managers in corporate settings; and supports previous research regarding the limited influence of demographic and organizational factors on both mindset and leadership.

Practical implications

Managers’ mindsets influence how much they engage in various leadership behaviors, and improving leadership competencies is more likely to occur when managers hold a growth mindset that abilities can be developed through effort as compared to fixed mindset managers who believe that abilities are inherent and unchangeable. The mindset of managers is predictive of the behavioral choices they make about exercising leadership, and has practical significance since studies have shown that managers are generally more effective in direct relationship to how often they are seen as engaging in leadership.


This study extends the significance of mindset from the educational to the corporate environment, using a robust sample of managers, and finding that the relationship between mindset and leadership is independent of various demographic and organizational characteristics.



Kouzes, T.K. and Posner, B.Z. (2019), "Influence of managers’ mindset on leadership behavior", Leadership & Organization Development Journal, Vol. 40 No. 8, pp. 829-844.



Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2019, Emerald Publishing Limited

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