4 ways to feed a growth mindset for professional development
November 5, 2019
A lot has been said about the two mindsets. The fixed mindset accepts that your qualities are unchangeable, while the growth mindset believes you can develop your abilities through continual learning, hard work and perseverance.
Knowing that your mindset determines your level of motivation, innovation, productivity and ultimately success, wouldn’t you rather embrace a growth mindset? Capital One surveyed industry executives on what they believe to be the critical factors for business transformation in 2019. Fostering a growth mindset was identified as one of the five critical factors to success. In fact, 96% of the business leaders surveyed believe that possessing a growth mindset is important in achieving business transformation.
We are facing an unprecedented amount of change. We don’t exactly know what lies ahead, and no one has given us a detailed training manual to become “future ready.” This is all the more reason to cultivate a growth mindset. And as a bonus, I believe growth-oriented employees are happier, more engaged, and active in contributing to a company's mission.
So, how can you nurture a growth mindset in your workplace?
1. Focus on learning agility
Not long ago I was in a meeting with a cross-functional team and several board members. Our board members were asking complex questions about one of our products. One person from the team, Evan, took the lead in answering many of their questions. Later on, a board member pulled me aside and said of Evan, “Your tech guy really knows his stuff.” Little did they know, Evan is not a tech guy at all - he’s actually in legal!
Often, people think they need a checklist when working across different industries or specialties, and they get hung up on not having the right skill set for the job. Not Evan. His story teaches us that in the new world, you need to understand how skills outside of your job family can be leveraged, so you can become a better problem solver. No matter who you are, embrace learning agility and nurture an inquisitive mind. Subscribe to a podcast about future thinking, read an article, take a class. When you embrace a learning mindset, your world will grow tremendously, and you’ll maximize your career potential.
2. Leverage others
We aren't experts in everything - and that’s ok! Successful leaders leverage everyone and everything around them - for inspiration, brainstorming and problem-solving. Know when to take a back seat and let others provide insight into their area of expertise. Approach them with the attitude that they are there to help you achieve your goals. Use the folks around you as resources. They’ll help chart your path forward. Build yourself up by embracing new ideas, along with a desire to be flexible, resourceful, adaptable and thoughtful.
3. Contribute to a culture of openness
Help build an environment where everyone can bring their whole selves to work, and feel comfortable voicing their opinions and ideas. Dissent is a gift. Thank those who challenge your ideas in the spirit of getting to a better place. And while it’s perfectly fine to take calculated risks, give yourself permission to fail in a way that will better refine your strategy. Celebrating only success can lead to a fixed mindset. When people have a safe space to learn and grow from their mistakes, they keep innovating because they aren’t worried about repercussions.
4. Develop your talent and give feedback
Leaders, this one is for you. Set imperatives for your teams, and then encourage them to jot down individual goals. Rather than pushing them to only set performance-based goals, place a stronger emphasis on goals that will ensure they’re always striving to learn, improve and try new things. Provide support, coaching and feedback along the way. But also, give praise when warranted. Going back to this HBR article on growth mindset, it’s critical to “reward not just success but learning and progress, and to emphasize the processes that yield these things, such as seeking help from others, trying new strategies, and capitalizing on setbacks to move forward effectively.”
Change is inevitable; growth is optional. How will you nurture a growth mindset?