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Managing With a Growth Mind Set

I found out about “fixed” and “growth” mind-sets a few years ago when I was dealing with an employee who was really fantastic in every way but one. She was scared to make mistakes and so she couldn’t learn to trust her judgement. In consequence, although she was more than capable of learning she didn’t have the nerve to apply her learning and make the inevitable mistakes. It was a very supportive learning environment and trainees weren’t blamed if they got things wrong. They were taught to learn from mistakes and treat them as springboards to success. But whatever we did (over a period of ten months and a considerable amount of support) my client couldn’t get Christine over that threshold.

Mind-set is one of the most basic beliefs we carry about ourselves. It is how we view and inhabit what we consider to be our personality.

A fixed mind-set assumes that character, intelligence, and creative ability are static and can’t be changed in any meaningful way. Those with a fixed mind-set assume that success is the affirmation of that inherent intelligence, an assessment of how those givens measure up against an equally fixed standard. Striving for success and avoiding failure at all costs become a way of maintaining the sense of being smart or skilled.

People with a growth mind-set thrive on challenge. They see failure not as evidence of unintelligence but as an invigorating opportunity for growth and for stretching their existing abilities. Growth mind setters believe that basic qualities can be cultivated and improved through ongoing effort.

Out of these two mind-sets comes a great deal of our behaviour, our relationship with success and failure in both professional and personal contexts, and ultimately our capacity for happiness.

Research by psychologist Carol Dweck has shown that (if they wish to do so and make the effort) people can change their natural mind-set. Success comes as a result of effort, learning, and persistence. It’s not just innate talent, intelligence or strength.

Believing that your qualities are already set and won’t change (fixed mind-set) discourages risk-taking. Fixed mind setters avoid challenging situations that might lead to failure because success depends upon protecting and promoting their set of fixed qualities and concealing their deficiencies.

On the other hand, growth-mind-set individuals ferociously attack their weaknesses.

Whether your target is a higher sales volume, diversified revenue stream, or faster production cycle, having a growth mind-set is critical to business success. As a business owner or manager you need to develop a growth mind-set to manage your team to their full potential.

If you adopt a fixed mind-set, you'll treat each employee's skills as fixed assets. That view of will create the erroneous belief that people's capabilities are fixed rather than fluid. Instead of developing the talent you already have, you may search for alternatives and risk alienating and even losing any rising stars in the process.

If you can develop a growth mind-set in the way you manage your team you can:

  • Lift the performance of everyone on the team. By reinforcing the idea that strengths can be refined and stretched, you can set a high bar for excellence that is measured by continuous effort.
  • Redefine the possibilities of partnership: By working together, you can create more value than if you work individually. That process of creating shared value deepens trust, increases collaboration, and strengthens relationships--a virtuous cycle that leads to healthier workplace dynamics and outcomes.
  • Take a closer look at your intuitions. Believing that others have yet to reveal their best work gives you a difference approach to managing performance: Rather than assail others for what they fail to produce, you can seek ways to support the emergent growth of everyone on your team. That optimism spreads quickly throughout the group, and prompts employees to adopt a growth mind-set as well.

All you need to achieve a manager’s growth mind-set is a commitment towards seeing others not just for who they are, but who they are becoming.

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Although every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information contained in this blog, nothing herein should be construed as giving advice and no responsibility will be taken for inaccuracies or errors.

Copyright © 2018 all rights reserved. You may copy or distribute this blog as long as this copyright notice and full information about contacting the author are attached. The author is Kate Russell of Russell HR Consulting Ltd.

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