It seems every few months a new buzzword is thrown around in the corporate world and rapidly becomes that “thing” that everyone wants to weave into conversations.
Recently, the buzz among industry leaders has centered on the “growth mindset” concept.
Despite being prominent in research circles for more than a decade, the growth mindset has increasingly become a well-recognized term often heard in conference rooms, meetings and other workplace settings.
So, what exactly is a growth mindset? And as leaders, how can we develop it in our companies?
If you are new to the term, here’s one simple way to wrap your head around the concept: while a fixed mindset views employee talent and capability as being limited, a growth mindset is one that recognizes that each team member is capable, and most importantly, can get better.
Stanford University psychology professor Carol Dweck has researched the growth mindset and believes it has significant effects for those leaders who embrace the philosophy. Her findings illustrate that when management promotes a growth mindset among team members, they encourage learning, development and new ideas.
A growth mindset can be highly transformable to any organization. According to the NeuroLeadership Institute, the most common reason an organization might focus on fostering a growth mindset is to stay agile in the face of technological uncertainty. Most notably, Sayta Nadella, CEO of Microsoft, has embraced this philosophy to transition the tech giant from a "know it all" to a "learn it all" work environment.
Encourage A Growth Mindset And See Innovation Flourish
From a business perspective, the advantages of a growth mindset culture are evident. Many companies today are increasingly required to adapt to new technologies and processes – and emphasize innovation – to face digital disruption and competition.
Smart business leaders know they must focus on innovation to make their organization genuinely stand out. However, when attempting to promote innovation, various issues can arise, including the need to shift workers’ more traditional mindsets to encourage creativity and new ideas. Often times, fear of failure or lack of risk-taking prevents people from getting creative.
In addition, employees can be hesitant to “break the mold” and try something new because of the fear of judgment.
To truly embrace a culture of innovation and a growth mindset, leaders and their teams together must shift from their comfort zone, get excited, and embrace new ideas and beliefs.
A Growth Mindset Is Not A Declaration – It’s A Journey
Transitioning to a growth mindset culture requires much more than a launch-and-leave approach. It can't be a branding campaign without engagement and substance.
For the management team at Panasonic Automotive, the experience of shifting mindsets was not much different – our company has been undergoing a significant global digital transformation, with many of the roles in our organization changing.
By implementing a growth mindset strategy across the board, we have been working tirelessly to ensure our people can effectively shift their skill sets, as needed, and navigate this tremendous change.
Three Actions To Support A Growth Mindset Culture
As leaders, building and embracing a culture of learning and innovation could be the critical factor that helps your company get ahead. Nurturing a growth mindset among your teams is one way to support innovation.
Here are three actions to take to get started:
1. Foster continuous learning. Both the business and digital worlds are rapidly changing, so what you know now is less relevant than what you may learn. In other words, knowing the answer to questions is not as important than having the ability to ask the right questions from the start. Try to adopt and encourage this mindset among employees moving forward.
2. Leverage your learning management system (LMS). Your LMS is pretty useless unless you have a strategy to engage your leaders to assign and following up on development. Use this technology to host videos, publish articles, offer training courses and leverage other helpful content. An LMS is searchable, easy-to-use and full of information that can build an employee’s skills or knowledge, anytime and from anywhere. An LMS also grows and becomes richer as team members begin to add valuable content to the system for any area of interest.
3. Encourage rich conversations. I believe where a growth mindset really makes an impact is via manager/employee communications, including daily touch-base conversations and regular performance check-ins. Leaders who take the time to listen to their employees are more likely to pick up on some negative or fixed-mindset language. They can then also help coach workers to move from phrases like, “This is impossible…” or “I am terrible at..." or "I can't...". Growth mindset coaching can help team members transform those notions into more positive messages, like “It will be difficult, but...", "I struggle at...." and “I can’t…yet...”.
Thinking And Acting Differently Will Get You Ahead
Leveraging a growth mindset mentality offers leaders and their organizations a significant opportunity for innovation and success. However, making the transition from a fixed mindset culture requires much more than a launch-and-leave approach.
A growth mindset environment can't merely be a branding campaign without engagement and substance. It also needs to be part of your organization’s overall business strategy. Those forward-thinking companies and leaders that incorporate a growth mindset ingrained as part of their business strategy ultimately think and act differently than other organizations. They use a solution-driven approach to get to the bottom of various issues and always thrive on a challenge. Most importantly, organizations striving for a growth mindset culture – steeped in innovation – require leaders who are willing to go that extra mile to ensure that they are sufficiently providing reinforcement and ultimately driving change.