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Mindset Over Matter? How to Build a Growth Mindset in You and Your Company

July 16, 2021, 4-min. read
Mindset over matter

It's wise to remember the definition of a Growth Mindset - that personal development is gained through applied hard work, strategic training, and cultivation of skills and talent through training and effort - has not changed, but the environment in which they apply and are best realized has.

It then stands to be that the Fixed Mindset - that mindset which attributes creative endeavour and intelligence to be innate, given, and unalterable - remains the same but that changing environmental pressures will change it, too.

When many of our working norms, routines and assumptions have been critically altered, do individuals need to re-learn what creates a growth mindset? Have the thought patterns, ethics and behavioural traits that categorize people as either being in a “fixed” or “growth” mindset changed? 

Crucially, do our business leaders need to change how they provide the career mapping, mentorship and performance management necessary to develop growth minded workforces?


Learn, Adapt, Grow.

The much-quoted and respected Stanford Psychologist Carol Dweck hypothesized that personal success hinges on the ability to focus recognition and reward on applied effort and learning from setbacks and critique (a growth mindset), rather than innate intelligence or ability that remains static and unchanging (a fixed mindset) - quite literally pulling apart assumptions we have on what underpins our personality.

Dweck made her assumptions based on the ability of school children and adults to react and learn from setbacks and criticism, while adapting recognition to valuing persistence and embracing challenge, rather than praising intangible judged levels of intelligence or innate talent.

The end result was a changed set of assumptions about what drives success and positive learning - that your intelligence and personality can be moulded and developed, and that they are not fixed. This had a profound effect on the way we perceive learning, personal development, personality traits and success.

What Will Having a Growth Mindset Give the Workers Of the Future?

Having a growth mindset is objectively a good thing: It’s beneficial for individuals in building careers and relationships; it quells ego-led decision making and gives purpose to learning. But how does this apply in modern workplaces and environments where fluid personalities and mindsets intersect and connect?

Although the discipline to build a growth mindset comes with critical self examination and collaborative feedback and review, it's easier to consider the importance of a growth mindset by comparing it’s qualities against its raw opposite - burnout.

Burnout is ostensibly the end result of working in a stressful environment, and burnout is increasing. Stress is, contrary to popular belief, judged to be the result of specific environmental factors causing a loss of control, rather than any particular result of a personality type (for example, see the American Institute of Stress for further details).

Having a growth mindset just in this one regard is an enormous defence mechanism against the rising ride of stress-related burnout.

A growth mindset gives you the power to make qualified judgments on environmental impacts; it gives you the objective tools to work with criticism and problem solve, rather than assume any given task can’t be done because you’re not clever enough, and it builds resilience in the face of difficult choices.

Performance Management and Mentoring

A growth mindset “creates a passion for learning rather than a hunger for approval” - that in and of itself sits at the core of what modern performance management is trying to achieve.

Recognition of achievement, reward for success and communal knowledge of positive assessment and growth are integral parts of a more modern type of performance management. But what growth mindsets perfect align with is continuous feedback.

How to build a growth mindset

A central focus of modern performance management is the introduction of a much more regular form of assessment and review, what we call Continuous Feedback. It’s designed to ground managerial assessment into context-led bite sizes pieces of feedback, where employees can, if necessary, make qualified changes to their work. They will understand why and where this feedback has originated and how it affects their work and your workplace today, rather than waiting for fixed points of review over a calendar year.

If growth mindsets hinge on being able to derive passion from learning, the quickest, most efficient way your staff learn is from you, their senior staff and mentors.

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