Team leaders often come into contact with people of varying personalities, interests and career backgrounds. Although diversity in these respects should be encouraged, there is one area where uniformity has great advantages: mindset.
A person’s mindset is a set of beliefs that shape how they make sense of both themselves and the world. When psychologists talk about growth mindset, they are specifically referencing the perception that people have about learning and intelligence. Some people believe that intelligence and the capacity for learning are innate, and thus unable to be changed. Those who operate this way have what’s called a “fixed mindset.” They hold limiting beliefs, which in turn limit their growth opportunities.
Luckily, we all possess the ability to cultivate a growth mindset. It’s a way of seeing problems and skill gaps as obstacles that can be overcome with time, effort and persistence. People with growth mindsets focus on the process involved in tackling challenges and the benefits of the learnings that come from failure. When leaders model and emphasize these attitudes, they help their team members maximize their potential and the organizational benefits follow.
For obvious reasons, more and more companies are working to make a growth-mindset orientation part of their employee culture. Here are some of the big benefits of a growth mindset in the workplace.
It took Thomas Edison about 1,000 tries to perfect the lightbulb. Imagine what the world would look like if he stopped after the first try?
We all want to get it right on the first try, but more often than not it takes many more than just one. A growth mindset is about achieving the best results from multiple iterations. This means encouraging team members to take educated risks without fear of failure or penalty. Teach your team to try, then adjust based on their findings.
A great number of experiments technically fail, but also lead to amazing results as people learn what not to do. By building the mental stamina to persevere, seemingly difficult tasks become easier. Your team won’t give up as easily, and as such are more likely to discover new and better ways of doing things.
For example, if your sales rep travels to a far-flung client only to fall short on their sales pitch, that doesn’t mean they’re a bad salesperson. Even though they may have prepared thoroughly for a client meeting, there are instances when it just doesn’t work out. What’s important is to learn from the experience in order to improve the next pitch.
A growth mindset reframes the entire situation to find the silver lining. Are there questions they can now anticipate for the next pitch, or communication skills they could sharpen?
Promoting a growth mindset on your team means that team members are more likely to tackle problems head-on, embracing them as interesting challenges.
Effective problem solving rests on exploring various avenues that can lead to success. It requires discipline, persistence and creativity. Creativity and growth mindsets go hand and hand with each other.
When stuck on a problem at work, posing the question “how can I…” has a very different result than saying “I can’t do this.” Whereas one causes the mind to stop thinking, the other forces it to work harder to find alternatives. As our brains engage in divergent thinking, we become more creative. Growth mindsets stimulate creativity by reframing situations to innovate through problems rather than remaining complacent.
As employees experiment and brainstorm, there are ideas that may work and others that might not. In either case, creative exercises develop new neural pathways that have the potential to help solve future problems.
The bottom line? A company that cultivates growth mindsets among its employees will always find ways to adapt and improve.
More Impactful Feedback
There’s no such thing as a truly negative consequence when you have a growth mindset. Every result that stems from action is seen as a step in the right direction. Leveraging constructive feedback is a powerful tool for sharpening a growth-oriented team.
In the workplace, leaders can accelerate the growth of employees by giving them constructive feedback – feedback that is encouraging in tone and given in the spirit of supportive professional guidance.
Constructive feedback requires transparent communication between those giving and receiving it, and highlights both strengths and weaknesses. Celebrating successes and learnings while recognizing that there’s always room for improvement encourages true growth and motivates team members.
A Change in Perspective
Adopting a growth mindset is a powerful step in maximizing your potential at work and in life. In essence, it’s a change in perspective that acknowledges that growth is a journey more than a destination.
So remember: success is not about how intelligent you are or what you know right now. It’s about the self-directed growth that comes from taking action and learning about your individual strengths and vulnerabilities. Whatever you accomplish, you deserve to feel proud as you let your growth mindset guide you throughout your career.