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What Happens When Companies Adopt a “Growth Mindset”

What is a growth mindset? Should I want one? What are the benefits?

According to American psychologist, Carol Dweck, “individuals who believe their talents can be developed (through hard work, good strategies, and input from others) have a growth mindset. They tend to achieve more than those with a more fixed mindset (those who believe their talents are innate gifts). This is because they worry less about looking smart and they put more energy into learning.” 

So, what would happen if we applied a growth mindset to an entire company? Well, reports have suggested that a growth mindset company’s employees report feeling far more empowered and committed; they also receive far greater organisational support for collaboration and innovation. According to Dweck, by contrast, “people at primarily fixed-mindset companies report more than one thing: cheating and deception among employees, presumably to gain an advantage in the talent race.”

What is encouraging is that while many naturally have brains more inclined to developing a growth mindset, Dweck reassures that “everyone is actually a mixture of fixed and growth mindsets, and that mixture continually evolves with experience. A ‘pure’ growth mindset doesn’t exist, which we have to acknowledge in order to attain the benefits we seek.”

A growth mindset also focuses and specifies on rewarding in a productive fashion. It’s critical to reward not just effort but learning and progress, and to emphasise the processes that yield these things, such as seeking help from others, trying new strategies, and capitalising on setbacks to move forward effectively. In all of our research, the outcome — the bottom line — follows from deeply engaging in these processes.

Mission statements are also important to take on if your business is aiming to take on a collective growth mindset. Organisations that embody a growth mindset encourage appropriate risk-taking, knowing that some risks won’t work out. They reward employees for important and useful lessons learned, even if a project does not meet its original goals. They support collaboration across organisational boundaries rather than competition among employees or units. They are committed to the growth of every member, not just in words but in deeds, such as broadly available development and advancement opportunities. And they continually reinforce growth mindset values with concrete policies.

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