What Having a “Growth Mindset” Actually Means

Sep 18, 2022

Many say they are “Growth Minded” or “Growth Oriented.”

 

But they are wrong.

 

Why, Carol Dweck, the author that made the term famous says,

 

“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.”

 

If you want to build a growth-oriented organization, what do you do?

 

Dweck suggests 3 things.

 

  1. Admit you don’t always have a growth mindset. You can’t be open to growth if you have no room to grow.
  2. Reward learning and progress. Create an atmosphere where seeking help is encouraged and expected.
  3. This one is big I’ll quote Dweck directly, “Organizations 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 organizational 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.”

 

She adds that even if we accomplish these it is not easy to attain a growth mindset. We all have fixed mindset triggers. Challenges, criticism or comparing ourselves to others can trigger a fixed mindset.

 

Here’s the tough one. “A company that plays the talent game makes it harder for people to practice growth-mindset thinking and behavior, such as sharing information, collaborating, innovating, seeking feedback or admitting errors.

If leaders want to foster growth, they must identify and route out anything that causes these triggers. Especially if it is their behavior that gets triggered.