Does Your Business Have a Growth Mindset?
I think most of us would say YES! I invite you to reflect on your business. How much do you agree or disagree with the following statements:
- Our company values natural intelligence and business talent more than other characteristics.
- Our company genuinely values the personal development and growth of its employees.
If you agree strongly with the first statement, your organization has a fixed-mindset. Conversely, if you agreed strongly with the second statement, your organization has a growth-mindset. Indulge me in another question: Do you think if a sample of your employees were asked how much they agree or disagree with those two statements, their sentiments would match your own?
Simply stated, a growth-mindset holds that with effort you can improve anything about yourself (think learning); a fixed-mindset believes you have a certain amount of skill or talent and can do little to change it (think judging).
Before I truly understood the difference between a growth-mindset and a fixed-mindset, I would have strongly believed I had a growth-mindset. With my deeper understanding of the concept of mindsets, and that we all of us experience both growth-and fixed-mindsets under different circumstances, I now know that I have been mired in a fixed-mindset for most of my life, at least in some areas. For example, your intelligence is something very basic about you that you can’t change very much is a statement I have strongly agreed with my entire life (and I am embarrassed to admit, counted on for much of my success). And I strongly disagreed with statements such as, no matter how much intelligence you have, you can always change it quite a bit.
However, volumes of research have proven that the latter is absolutely untrue-unless you believe it to be true (outside of the 2-3 percent of people with severe disabilities). We all have the ability to grow and improve in every aspect of our lives we put effort towards: intelligence, athletic ability, creativity, artistic ability, and the list goes on. Unfortunately, most of us are taught at an early age the fixed-mindset: in other words you are who you are and you get what you get and there is little you can do to change that. This is often reinforced in schools with labels like gifted or slow; or in the workplace using labels such as talented or inept.
What about natural talents or gifts, you ask? Absolutely those exist! And innate skills will catapult many folks to the top of their game (on the court or in the boardroom) quickly. However, it often becomes a curse for those who succumb to the belief that it is only natural abilities that got them where they are. They hold the belief that they are smarter, faster, more talented than everyone around them and begin to rest on their laurels. For all but the 1-2 percent of people at the top of the spectrum, eventually natural talent will not be enough to keep you on top. And if you have a fixed-mindset you will fall behind. When you fail, you look to the outside world for blame; other people, circumstances, illnesses, etc.; because you have labeled yourself as gifted in baseball, business, mathematics. It is your identity and when threatened you will need to cast blame elsewhere (think John McEnroe or Lee Iacocca).
People with a growth-mindset see failures as a reason how and/or why they failed. What can I do differently? Who can I go to for help or guidance to improve? Michael Jordan and Jack Welch fall into this category. There are plenty of people with natural talents and abilities who also have the growth-mindset. These folks do not rely on their talents to carry them. Instead they continue to look for ways to improve themselves. They are not afraid of failures and setbacks precisely because they have a growth-mindset and do not imbue their skills or talents into their identity.
It is possible to change a person’s mindset – to change your mindset. It is fascinating that a simple set of instructions that sets people up with a fixed- or growth-mindset before engaging in a task dramatically changes the outcome.
If you do not consider mindset when hiring your “talent”, perhaps you should. Moreover, do not create a culture of fixed-mindset in your organization. You risk cultivating immoral behavior, politicking, reduced innovation and worse-you will drive away your best people who strive to grow and improve themselves and your business.
For more insights and strategies, read “Mindset: The New Psychology of Success” by Carol Dweck.