What kind of mindset do you hold when considering your team, your beliefs and your opinions in the workplace? Is it one that keeps you stuck in place, or does it allow you and others to grow with optimism and positivity? Is it a growth mindset, or a fixed mindset?

Why Does Mindset Matter?

During a recent executive team coaching session, we were discussing the progress of some new hires. Due to rapid growth in the organization new hires were needed at a middle manager level. One person in particular was the topic of quite a bit of discussion. At some point one executive finally stated, “I don’t think that person is going to make it.”  Others around the table nodded in agreement and some more discussion ensued.

The question I asked next was, “Are you focused on helping him grow and be successful or are you watching him fail?”

In other words, “Do you have a fixed mindset about this person right now or a growth mindset?  Because whatever you believe, is what you are going to see.”

How often has this happened to you when you are thinking about someone you are leading? Have you already decided in your mind what the outcome will be?  You have essentially given up on that person without telling them!

In Carol Dwek’s book “Mindset: The New Psychology of Success”, she defines a growth mindset as, “In a growth mindset, people believe that their most basic abilities can be developed through dedication and hard work—brains and talent are just the starting point. This view creates a love of learning and a resilience that is essential for great accomplishment.”  According to Dweck, “people’s self-theories about intelligence have a profound influence on their motivation to learn.”

Those who hold a “fixed” theory are mainly concerned with how smart they are — they prefer tasks they can already do well and avoid ones on which they may make mistakes and not look smart! In contrast, she said, people who believe in an “expandable” or “growth” theory of intelligence want to challenge themselves to increase their abilities, even if they fail at first.”

How Does a Growth Mindset Affect Our Team?

Not only can individuals possess a growth mindset, but organizations can also be categorized as either having a growth mindset or not. In 2014, when Satya Nadella took over Microsoft, he made it his mission to revamp the leadership and the culture at Microsoft. In his book, Hit Refresh, Nadella explains that mindsets – particularly growth mindsets – were his primary focus when revamping Microsoft. With this leadership, the company’s market capitalization and stock price has more than tripled.

Your leadership team creates the culture and your culture either promotes growth mindset…or not.

Research shows that employees in a “growth mindset” company are:

  • 47% livelier to say that their colleagues are trustworthy
  • 34% likelier to feel a strong sense of ownership and commitment to the company
  • 65% likelier to say that the company supports risk taking
  • 49% likelier to say that the company fosters innovation

The above noted executive teams’ assignment with the employee was to focus their ‘coaching’ efforts in the following way:

  1. Identify what the employee would have to be doing to be seen as moving toward success. The key here…is that all leaders need to be on the same page with this and looking for the same things (moving towards growth).
  2. Sit the employee down and paint the picture for him. Let him know what he is already doing that’s great and what more needs to be seen.
  3. Identify to him that he has a group of supporters, let him know there are numerous people that are there to help him be successful, that he can count on for support, direction and feedback.
  4. Meet weekly to get feedback from him and give feedback to him.

The success of coaching can be attributed to the fact coaching focuses on promoting a growth mindset.

Coaching focuses on what is possible, on trying new things and learning from whatever happens, failure and success. It focuses on exploring perspective and beliefs, giving feedback, taking action and then reviewing to see if that action moves you in the right direction.

“Important achievements require a clear focus, all-out effort, and a bottomless trunk full of strategies. Plus allies in learning.” 

– Carol Dweck

Who on your team needs a growth mindset perspective?

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