Are you giving your employees the confidence to become leaders and innovators in your business, or are you limiting their beliefs? Gary Hamel and C.K. Prahalad in Competing For the Future, describe just how easy it is to develop self limiting beliefs. Four monkeys sit in a cage that has a bunch of bananas hanging from the roof, accessible by a set of steps. When the monkeys go to climb the steps to get the bananas they receive a blast of cold water.After a few days the monkeys stop trying to climb the steps and reach the bananas. Researchers then remove the water hose and replace one of the monkeys with a new one. Seeing the bananas, it heads up the steps. The other monkeys, seeing the danger pull it back before it gets blasted with water. This keeps happening until the monkey gives up.
Over the next few weeks, the researchers remove the rest of the original monkeys and replace them with new ones who have never seen the blast of water. Even though there is nothing to stop the monkeys reaching the blast of water, the new monkey is always pulled down before it reaches the bananas. By the end of the experiment none of them try to climb the steps.
Do your employees hold back because they are frightened of failing or because they are told ‘it’s not the way things are done around here’. Are you removing the obstacles and encouraging innovation in your company? Are you encouraging failure as a way to success? When someone says ‘We have tried that before’, do you encourage them to try again, learning from the past but not allowing it to be a restriction? Are you challenging mindsets? Are you leading by example?