Imagine a world where everyone, upon graduating high school, was given an IQ test to determine their intelligence. Then based on intelligence alone, they are assigned a path in life. The low scorers would be limited to tedious jobs that require little skill or brainpower, while those who scored well would go on to higher-paying, successful careers.
This scenario, while exaggerated, demonstrates the notion of a fixed mindset culture. In contrast, a growth mindset culture values effort and hard work. Success isn’t dependent on inherent intelligence alone.
The concept of growth mindset was identified decades ago by Stanford University Professor of Psychology, Carol Dweck. In her research, Dweck found that: “Students’ mindsets—how they perceive their abilities—played a key role in their motivation and achievement. We found that if we changed students’ mindsets, we could boost their achievement. When students learned through a structured program that they could ‘grow their brains’ and increase their intellectual abilities, they did better.”
You may be asking “What is this article doing on Balance Point’s blog? What does this have to do with my business?” While originally applied in a classroom setting as a way of looking at intelligence and determining how to help students expand their capacity, growth mindset has found its way into the boardroom as a way to engage and motivate employees.
Applying the Growth Mindset in Business
In her book “Mindset: The New Psychology of Success,” Dweck outlines the main attributes that create a growth-mindset environment in business:
- Presenting skills as learnable
- Conveying that the organization values learning and perseverance, not just ready-made genius or talent
- Giving feedback in a way that promotes learning and future success
- Presenting managers as resources for learning
Five Habits of Growth Mindset Leaders
Leaders who embrace growth mindset see talent and intelligence as just the beginning of a successful career path. They are interested in cultivating their employees’ efforts and willingness to learn.
Below are five habits of leaders who foster a growth mindset:
- They are not fixated on outcomes – Rather than dwell on the successes or failures of their employees, they focus on what brought them there. It’s more about effort, learning and growth.
- They don’t fear failure – They encourage employees to share their mistakes and, rather than discipline them, they help them look for ways to grow from the experience.
- They share their own mistakes – In an effort to encourage their employees, they share the mistakes they’ve made personally and what they have learned. Rather than place blame on others, they take full responsibility.
- They reward effort – They show appreciation for the efforts their team puts forth. For them, importance is placed on how much the team continues to evolve and grow.
- They present opportunities for growth, whether by training or mentoring. They recognize that if there is a will, there is a way to succeed.