We’re great at talking about growth mindset and the work of Stanford Professor, Carol Dweck but what does it mean in practice? How does it play out in the business world? What about growth mindset at work? Hands up if you tell people you’ve got it as you nod sagely but in secret, well, in secret, you’re just not sure and you don’t want to look like a loser? We’ve been taught to avoid failure at all costs, not to look stupid in front of others but sometimes losing provides us with the perfect roadmap for success. Here’s why growth mindset matters at work.
If you’re always trying to be the smartest in the room you’ll never learn
Ok, so maybe you were hired because you’re smart but when you find yourself trying to prove it every day, you’re creating a huge schotoma. When you’re more concerned with creating the illusion of an infalliable expert, you’re missing out on learning opportunities. Dweck’s research found that when children were praised for their intelligence alone they became demotivated. They made less effort. Even more worrying, those children then overstated their scores to their peers. Dweck stated “We took ordinary children and made them into liars.”
Flip that research into inward facing, hierachical organisations that focus soley on ‘star’ performers. Outdated, command and control structures, ranking performance management systems that only focus on results create a culture of fixed mindset. Reflect upon the genesis for recent scandals at VW, Enron, Tesco, Facebook fake data, Uber, Wells Fargo and the Samsung bribery charges. Fixed mindset is a breeding ground for dysfunction and it usually emanates from the top. From a leader, that’s toxic.
Robert Sternberg, Dean of Tuft’s University states “If you’re afraid of making mistakes, you’ll never learn on the job and your whole approach to business becomes defensive: ‘I have to make sure I don’t screw up.” We know that action follows focus. If your motivation is to prevent failure then you’ll diminish your potential, your ideas and your development. If you’re leading with an all or nothing fixed mindset, masking your fear of falling, failing and being found out, watch that lack of innovation, and vision trickle down to your staff.
Recognising yourself (or your colleagues) and wondering how to develop a growth mindset? We’ve got you covered with these 5 developing a growth mindset hacks.
Why Growth Mindset Matters at Work
5 Developing a Growth Mindset at Work Hacks
- Develop your self awareness. This is key. You need to be able to spot the areas where you have a fixed mindset. How? Slow down and cultivate a daily habit of mindfulness (check out our free Introduction to Mindfulness Guide)
- Listen to how you communicate with colleagues. What are you really saying? Consider any subtext as to what you might be saying about mindset. Monitor and address any fixed mindset faux pas.
- Model growth mindset in everything that you do by talking about mindset, making it part of your culture and discussing your own failures. Make it more than ‘ok’ to fail, take a leaf out of Goggle’s X lab and actively celebrate what you’ve learned from stumbling over roadblocks.
- Focus on development not talent. When there’s a success in your organisation, analyse the processes rather than the talent. What happened? What contributed to the success? How can you learn from it? How can it be replicated?
- When the shit hits the fan and someone messes up ditch the blame culture. Analyse what happened, where is the learning information and how can it be utilised so that everyone can learn from it? Give feedback and do things differently next time.
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