growth mindset

To Survive and Thrive, You Need a Growth Mindset

The business case for a growth mindset is not what you think it is - if you're serious about success, you need to start believing in yourself.
To Survive and Thrive, You Need a Growth Mindset
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Head of Research and Solutions at the NeuroLeadership Institute South Africa
6 min read
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Any leadership and personal mastery principle that booms in popularity is ripe for misinterpretation. Growth Mindset has been hailed as one of the defining leadership principles of top international companies and is believed to be one of the core skills that will keep individuals future fit in disruptive times. 

Despite its popularity and importance, many companies still think a growth mindset is about the profit growth of a business. It’s not. And if you don’t know what it really is and how to apply it, you and your business might not be around to grow at all. 

 

Growth Mindset is about Belief in Ability

Studies that we have done at the NeuroLeadership (NLI) institute have shown that many businesses still believe that having a growth mindset means keeping eyes towards profits and striving for business growth. 

Having a growth mindset is really about the continuous belief that improvement is possible and that failures are opportunities to learn.

It is much larger than the objective of improving earnings, although applying a growth mindset makes one more resilient and engaged in times of change, which can only improve earnings overall.  Another study completed at NLI revealed that there are five reasons why businesses are applying a growth mindset to drive business success. 

 

1. Digital Transformation  

The most popular reason is to stay agile in the face of technological uncertainty. Digital technologies are continuing to disrupt the way that we do business and a growth mindset is put forward as a priority to ensure businesses thrive through digital disruption. 

 

2. Business Improvement 

A growth mindset encourages feedback and continuous improvement and many businesses look to embed this when they are streamlining work streams, teams and business processes. 

 

3. Reinvention

When organisations are pivoting they use a growth mindset in their approach to reinvention of culture, operating model and leadership challenges. The growth mindset principle of seeing challenges as opportunities and not threats has an impact here.

 

4. Growing up

In an effort to scale a business, organisations see the benefit of applying a growth mindset to navigate the challenges and turmoil that accompanies growth. 

 

5. Performance Management Transformation 

Some businesses interview for and reward demonstration of a growth mindset. This means that they value improvement over time as a priority. 

Clearly a growth mindset has business success at the core of its value-add to many organisations. It helps businesses be more agile and engaged during change, but how does it work, and how can we cultivate it?

When faced with a challenge we either tackle it head on, hoping for positive results, or we shy away from the challenge, feeling inadequate.

In the brain, this is caused by how we view the challenge. If we view it as a threat, our body reacts with duress (negative stress) and we don’t prioritise our best thinking, going into survival mode instead. But if we view it as an opportunity, our body goes into euress (positive stress) and we are energised, our body is able to prioritise its best thinking. This type of behaviour can be categorised into two groups, that of a growth mindset and a fixed mindset.

Psychologists have studied these behavioural traits and found that individuals who believe in their ability to succeed are seen to have a growth mindset, whereas people who give up instantly or constantly harp on the negative aspects of a situation are seen to have a fixed mindset. Therefore, a fixed mindset sees no room for improvement and in return devalues their ability to perform. 

A fixed mindset is linked to a belief that our ability is fixed and a growth mindset is linked to the belief that our ability can be grown. The surprising finding here is that our default wiring is wired to that of a fixed mindset. 

 

Creating a Growth Mindset 

Researchers have found that to incorporate the growth mindset into organisations, leaders should focus on factors such as transparency, empowerment and development.

With the digital age that we are currently living in and even trying to adapt to daily, organisations need to constantly reinvent, improve and manage performance based on digital transformation.

A growth mindset assists in the rapid changes that organisations face even on a digital platform. 

For a growth mindset to be established in organisations, management needs to lead the overall process. Thus, there needs to be a shared language. To ensure that there is a shared language, managers should encourage employees to build the right behaviours, and have systems and processes in place that promote a growth mindset throughout the organisation. 

This can be done by:
•    Valuing and rewarding progress in others
•    Focusing and highlighting learnings from mistakes and challenges 
•    Role modelling this behaviour. 

Researchers have shown that a growth mindset can have measured benefit in organisations. An internal survey at a technology company showed that 92% of employees agree that learning is a lifelong exercise and 82% of managers displayed growth mindset behaviours.

The growth mindset enhances the quality of an organisation for the greater good of future and current employees.  When calamity strikes in organisations, the growth mindset aids in seeing change not as a threat but rather as an opportunity to improve based on a positive mindset.

 

Shifting Away from a Fixed Mindset Approach

A fixed mindset hinders progress. For businesses to prosper, there needs to be an attitude of constant learning, even when failure occurs. There are certain things one can do to shift your fixed mindset to a growth mindset. 

Firstly, eliminate any thoughts of inadequacy. Your thoughts determine your actions, therefore shift your thinking to that of a “can do” attitude. You need to recognise your potential, understand your abilities and that they can be improved, and know that stressful situations are opportunities to learn and grow, rather being a threat. 

The minute you find yourself in a fixed mindset with a negative thought process, talk yourself into remembering your capabilities. Try replacing those negative thoughts with, “I know that I am not excelling in this area, but I am going to learn how to improve and come back stronger than before”. 

A growth mindset is a phenomenon that you must constantly think about and instil in your daily life, both on a personal and professional level to see positive results, remembering that you are in a cycle of lifelong learning. 

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