Praise Effort more than Outcome

Carol S. Dweck at Stanford University did a study with 400 fifth-graders. Half were randomly praised as being “really smart” for doing well on a test; the others were praised for their effort. Then they were given two tasks to choose from: an easy one that they would learn little from but do well on, or a more challenging one that might be more interesting but might also produce more mistakes.

The majority of those praised for being smart chose the simplest task, while 90 percent of those commended for trying hard selected the more difficult one.

So what’s the take-home? If you want your team to take risks and not melt in the face of fear, praise effort more than outcome. Encourage them to stretch themselves, even if it means greater risk.