Updated: Mar 3
Many moons ago you’d find a slightly awkward 15-year-old version of me at the gates of Doncaster Rovers Football Club, earning my £7.50 match fee selling tickets to local supporters. If you’d told me then I’d end up with a psychology degree, a successful career in marketing or that I’d travel the world and start my own coaching and consultancy businesses I would have thought you were completely bonkers. I had no money, no-one in my family had been to University, I didn’t have connections or anyone to guide and mentor me towards this life. But what I did have was gritty determination and my very own superpower, a growth mindset.
My mindset has served me well and I’m now able to use my experience and skill as a coach to help others develop and nurture their own growth mindset. There is no better time than now for individuals and businesses to adopt a growth mindset. We are facing extraordinary challenges that require new learning, thinking and action on a regular basis. An organisation with a growth mindset can achieve amazing things, leading to a continuous flow of ideas, innovation and creativity. The need for a different response provides a new opportunity for leaders to cultivate a growth mindset and respond to the current crisis with greater ambition and innovation.
What is a growth mindset?
The two mindsets that shape so much of our lives were introduced by the Stanford University Psychologist Carol Dweck where she first presented the phrase fixed and growth mindset. A “fixed mindset” assumes that our character, intelligence, and creative ability are static so can’t change in any meaningful way. People with a fixed mindset experience a strong fear of failure so may avoid challenges because they don’t want to feel embarrassed or humiliated in front of others (totally understandable). As a fear of making mistakes can mean shying away from new experiences it becomes difficult to make changes and move your life in the direction you may want, resulting in feeling stuck.
People with ‘growth mindsets’ embrace learning and want to get consistently better at what they do. Challenges are enjoyed despite the risk of failure as they are seen as opportunities to learn and improve.
The good news is a growth mindset can be learned and businesses can support employees in shifting their mindset in the context of both work and life. I believe it begins with a philosophy that runs through the entire culture of businesses. Organisations in the tech industry have lead the way in adopting a growth mindset culture, most notably, Sayta Nadella, CEO of Microsoft, embraced a growth mindset to transition the organisation from a "know it all" to a "learn it all" work environment. It was this shift in mindset that was heralded as the inspiration behind the turnaround of Microsoft.
Here are my 3 three most impactful tips for getting started with implementing a growth mindset through your organisation:
1. Create a culture of continuous learning
- Promote learning like a marketeer; engage, create some excitement and change people’s behaviour
- Focus on learning together, teaching employees new skills can help them develop new perspectives, gain confidence in their abilities and come up with innovative solutions.
- Promote the sharing of knowledge
- Celebrate and reward learning; perhaps make space for this in a company meeting or dedicate a regular meeting to it
- Set learning goals along side or instead of performance goals
2. Listen carefully and reframe failure and limiting beliefs
- Leaders and managers who take the time to listen to their employees are more likely to pick up on negative or fixed-mindset language. They can then also help coach workers to move from phrases like, “This is impossible…” to something more positive like, “It will be difficult, but..."
- Encourage everyone to embrace the power of not yet for example, “I can’t run a marathon,” becomes “I can’t run a marathon yet.”
3. Create a safe environment for a growth mindset to flourish
- Help teams and individuals embrace imperfection and mistakes therefore reducing the fear to try something new. Allow people to positively experience failure, setbacks and risk by showing support and providing constructive feedback. Re-framing mistakes and failure as learning experiences are both liberating and empowering. It takes the pressure off and promotes better mental health in the workplace whilst creating a stronger, more adaptable organisation.
- Invest in workshops and team coaching to build teamwork and encourage people to voice their opinions and ideas, create an environment of open discussion and communication.
Growth, success and continuous improvement come from being curious, having the confidence to seek out new opportunities, and to learn from mistakes and situations when things haven’t gone right. It’s also the understanding that nothing is perfect, everything we do can be improved on in some way. This is the essence of a growth mindset.
Transitioning to a growth mindset organisation requires much more than a launch and leave approach, but I’m pretty sure that the time and effort you invest in it will bring you and your business success and you’ll rightly crown it as your company’s super power.
In what ways can you move yourself and your organisation toward a growth mindset? This month I learned how to build this website and started a blog so do stay and take a look around if you have time.
If you’d like more support in your transition, I offer one to one and group coaching. I also run workshops and online masterclasses in transitioning to a Growth mindset.
If you’d like to know more about working with me you can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org
If you enjoyed this post you might also like this, some lessons in leadership from the world of sport.