Employees with a growth mindset often feel far more empowered and committed than those who have a fixed mindset. While the term ‘’growth mindset’’ has become increasingly commonplace, there are quite some misconceptions around it. Are you or your employees up-to-date with these types of mindset?
What is a growth mindset?
‘’A growth mindset is the belief that talents and abilities can be developed – without denying the importance of talent’’
– Carol Dweck
This means that individuals, who believe that their own talents can be developed, have a growth mindset. Either through feedback from others, hard work or (other) great strategies.
Misconceptions occur as the concept of a growth mindset is embedded in a psychological theory of persistence. Meaning that those with a growth mindset will take on more challenges, persevere in difficult situations and overall work harder and more efficiently. However, this has led to misunderstandings of what it exactly is, and how easy it is to master such a mindset.
The most common misunderstanding are as follows:
- Having a growth mindset is equivalent to being open-minded or flexible.
- The growth mindset is something simple that can easily be mastered.
- Gaining a growth mindset ‘only’ takes effort – but everyone can!
Growth mindset vs fixed mindset
Those with a fixed mindset believe that their abilities are set in stone. Such a mentality means that one believes nothing can be done to improve what one can achieve. A person in a fixed mindset believes that his traits (and therefore typically capabilities) are static for life. This belief typically results in ‘’looking good’’ rather than trying to improve oneself.
‘’I stick to what I know’’; ‘’I can either do it, or I can’t’’; ‘’My potential is predetermined’’; I don’t like to be challenged’’ are phrases that are associated with these fixed mindsets.
On the other hand, as mentioned before, those with a growth mindset believe that skills, knowledge, and abilities can be continuously improved upon. It is only a matter of time with the right amount of coaching, effort and direction before they can accomplish something. The main focus lies on ‘’getting better’’.
Phrases relatable to growth mindsets are such as ‘’I like to try new things’’, ‘’I can learn to do anything I want’’ and ‘’My effort and attitude determine my abilities’’.
Attitude towards challenges
The two different mindsets come with contrasting perspectives of setbacks. People with fixed mindsets see setbacks or negative results as disencouraging. It makes them doubt their own ability and competences. They might give up or become totally uninterested after experiencing this. ‘’One bad test, evaluation, or outcome will define you forever’’. It is also often that they blame others when facing problems.
The people with growth mindsets, on the contrary, will see setbacks or challenges as a stimulating and motivational factor that will push them to work harder. It is seen and used as a ‘’wake-up call’’.
We often all fall into the trap that we can’t be better at something. We believe that we are only capable of something up to a certain point. Having a fixed mindset inhibits growth, which in turn can also affect personal happiness down the line.
Take a look and see if you have a fixed or growth mindset.
An overview of the two mindsets and their characteristics
How to cultivate a growth mindset?
A growth mindset can be developed once understanding is formed of the fixed and growth mindsets, alongside its consequences of thinking. Easy said, but how can it be done?
There are 3 simple steps that can help in building a growth mindset:
- Acknowledge weaknesses
By acknowledging weaknesses, it creates windows of opportunities to create modest, achievable goals for improvement.
- Understand what works best
It is of importance to find an environment that suits a certain person. Understand what is the best way of learning and what is the most enjoyable to do. Find one’s approach with the main goal of learning something, no matter the amount of time.
- Focus on the process and on oneself
Don’t waste energy worrying about what others might think. Focus on oneself’s progress, as seeking approval from others will likely create distraction from the real goals. Be aware that that fixation on end results will also lead to distractions or setbacks, as it prevents learning ‘’in the moment’’.
How can managers embrace a growth mindset for its employees?
There are several ways of stimulating growth mindsets as a manager or leader. However the two main steps are:
- Create a psychologically safe environment. Make it apparent that it is okay to make mistakes and that these are seen as stepping stones to successful outcomes, rather than as something negative. Encouraging others to speak up and share ideas without fear of rejection or judgement. Also, empower others by praising the struggling employee on his or her progress—any progress, no matter how small. Believing and publicly voicing support can completely change the course of progress of the employee.
- Identify thought patterns and behaviors that are the result of the two mindsets and audit the current mind state of the team. Understanding and analyzing the differences, enables adjustments to the appropriate management style that improves interactions with the team.
Interested in knowing more about the growth and fixed mindset in a more practical ‘’learn-by-doing’’ way? Take a look at our training catalogue!