Growth Mindset

The way we think can have a big impact on how we view the world. To better understand this, American psychologist Carol Dweck came up with two distinct ways of thinking. These are the growth and fixed mindsets.

If you’re leading a team, it can help to identify the type of thinking that currently exists within the organization. It can also help to make sure that you’re focusing on developing a growth mindset. But what are these two thought patterns and how do they impact on the way we view the world? Let’s take a closer look at the differences between a growth and a fixed mindset and how you can apply this in the workforce.

What Is A Fixed Mindset?

Let’s start by looking at what a fixed mindset is and how it affects the way we think. According to a fixed mindset, there are some absolutes about individuals which cannot be changed. As a result, they don’t spend any time working on these aspects of themselves. This can often cause a negative cycle, where they continue to do poorly in these areas, re-enforcing their negative beliefs. To understand what this means and why it can be destructive, let’s look at a few examples.

What Are Some Examples Of A Fixed Mindset?

Imagine that some individuals are studying for a maths test. Those with a fixed mindset will believe that, no matter what they do, they will fail. As a result, they don’t spend time studying for the test. Unsurprisingly, they don’t pass.  

In a work context, some people might believe that they have been tasked with leading a subpar team. In a fixed mindset, they might think that no matter what they do, the team won’t improve. Because of this, they only do the bare minimum and the team turns in a below-average performance.

Effects Of A Fixed Mindset

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As we’ve seen, a fixed mindset can often turn into a self-fulfilling prophecy that further enforces those beliefs. Because of this, the longer the pattern continues, the more difficult it will be to break this destructive way of thinking. However, as we’ll discuss later, it is possible to break the cycle and develop a growth mindset.

This can have several impacts on the workplace. For example, some people with a fixed mindset might believe that they have gotten ahead based on natural talent. Because of this, they won’t have any incentive to work hard and improve their skills. It also means that their weak spots will continue to grow more pronounced. It might also cause problems for the leadership team. For example, it can be hard to convince people with a fixed mindset to commit to a task if they feel they are destined to fail.

What Is A Growth Mindset?

If a fixed mindset is what you want to try to avoid, a growth mindset is what we want to try to achieve. In this model, there are no limits to our ability. If we don’t like an aspect of our personality, we change it. Unlike the fixed mindset, where we won’t change anything about our failures, the growth mindset views these moments as a valuable chance to improve.

Examples Of A Growth Mindset

To better understand how a growth mindset works, let’s look at a few examples of how this might look.  Let’s imagine that you aren’t an athletic person and you’ve been challenged to run a half-marathon. Those with a fixed mindset will likely give up before even attempting the task. However, those with a growth mindset will use it as a chance to push themselves.

Another common example is how a growth mindset looks at setbacks. Let’s imagine that, after a job interview, you don’t get the position. Those with a growth mindset will look at the experience and try to figure out what they can learn from it. By doing this, they’ll be able to go into the next interview with new insight and perhaps a new job!

Those with a fixed mindset may avoid looking up to role models as they fear not living up to their expectations. However, if you have a growth mindset you believe that you have unlimited potential. As a result, you won’t be afraid to aspire to be at the top of your industry, looking at what the successful people are doing and model those traits.

How Does A Growth Mindset Affect Business?

If you’re on the leadership team, you’ll want to encourage your team members to create a growth mindset. This will ensure that you instill in everyone the willingness to work hard, to achieve their goals. It will also ensure that they view setbacks as an opportunity to learn from their mistakes and try to improve themselves in the future.

People with a growth mindset tend to be more willing to look up to leaders and try to follow in the path of their role models. This can make them easier to lead, as they’ll always be looking for ways to improve themselves. Also, people who embrace this way of thinking will often view challenges as a way to improve their skills. Because of this, they will always be striving to get ahead.

How To Develop A Growth Mindset?

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As we’ve seen, there are a few distinct advantages to developing a growth mindset. Thankfully, this is a mentality that can be learned. But how can you teach your yourself and your team to develop this way of thinking?

Harness The Power Of Yet

One of the best ways to start applying a growth mindset is by learning the power of yet. There will inevitably be times when a member of your team won’t be able to complete a task. It’s how you deal with these circumstances that will impact the type of mindset that they develop.

A perfect example of this is the way that tests are marked. In some cases, a teacher might find that a student hasn’t got the necessary knowledge and give them a failing mark. However, this can be very discouraging, making them feel like they will never be able to master the subject. Instead, the teacher might want to write “not yet”. This takes the emphasis off of failing and encourages them to try again and if they work hard enough, they will be able to pass on the next attempt.

Focus On The Process

Another step that you might want to take is focusing on the process, instead of the results. Breaking free of a fixed mindset can be very difficult. The person has been programmed to think that they can’t accomplish the task. So, you first want to get them used to doing the activity. As they grow more confident, you can then focus on setting goals.

For example, if you were planning to run a marathon, but weren’t athletic, you might want to focus on turning up at the gym each morning and doing a session on the treadmill. Though you might only be running for a few kilometers, you will be building a routine. Later, you can start setting more ambitious goals.

Conclusion

Our mindset plays a big role in how we approach our work. To demonstrate leadership, you need to focus on creating a growth mentality within your team. If you can do this, you’ll be able to create a more positive work environment, where everyone is trying their hardest. So, use these tips to build a growth mindset in your business.

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