Growth Mindset

“Singapore needs new mindset to be an innovation hot spot. The risk appetite of Singaporeans may need to be increased. They need to be prepared to take risks, to be prepared to fail or not succeed and try again. We need a new mindset,” 
Deputy PM Teo on what makes the state competitive – and what needs to change.

What is Growth Mindset?

After decades of research, Stanford University psychology professor Carol S. Dweck discovered two types of mindsets, namely, Growth Mindset and fixed-mindset. Carol Dweck found that employees with Growth Mindset are 65 percent more likely to view their organization supports risk-taking than their fixed-mindset peers. They are also 49 percent more likely to perceive their organizations foster innovation, allowing them to be more creative, and less averse to taking calculated risks.

People with Growth Mindset believe skills can be developed. They have higher learning agility and lower sense of helplessness. In the face of challenges, they demonstrate persistence to overcome obstacles and attain goals. People with Growth Mindset do not give in to setbacks easily. They commit hard work and find lessons in ‘failures’ which lead them to progress as capable individuals.

What is Fixed-Mindset?

Dweck found that people with fixed-mindset perceive intelligence and abilities as fixed traits. Hence, they tend to view the effort as fruitless and feel threatened by the success of others. They focus on the outcome to look good rather than the process of learning and are more likely to avoid challenges, get defensive, or give up easily.

In organizations, leaders with fixed-mindset are detrimental to employees. These managers believe one’s capabilities are cast in stone and perceive their employees’ low capacity and incompetence to be the root cause of failures.  They are also less likely to coach employees about how to improve the performance or to offer constructive feedback.

The Importance of Growth Mindset in the Workplace

There are two types of cultures in organizations, namely “culture of genius” and “culture of development”. Organizations with fixed-mindset are prone to “culture of genius” where employees either have the talent or they do not. Conversely, organizations with Growth Mindset tend to practice “culture of development”, using sound strategies and mentoring programs as contributors to performance improvement.

Carol Dweck suggested that the benefits of a business fostering a growth mindset include:

  • Higher levels of trust between employees
  • Higher levels of engagement
  • More creative and innovative culture
  • Less likely to endorse and engage in unethical behavior
  • Reduced ‘blame game’ culture

Organizations with growth mindsets can develop employees who learn and thrive. This learning agility has been shown to be an excellent predictor of organization success.

The Misconception of Growth Mindset

Growth Mindset does not mean feeling positive about oneself and motivating others to improve but it is the belief that every individual can achieve mastery through perseverance and improvement efforts. Fixed-mindset and Growth Mindset are not exclusive strategies. People tend to leverage on both mindsets, even shifting from one extreme to another. Major life events or traumatic incidents may alter one’s perception of certain skills and personality traits. One may discover and acquire new skills, or even unlearn old skills where deem necessary. Growth Mindset is not justifiable by pure commitment. It must come with prominent learning experiences and self-development. Therefore, a reward should occur at every small milestone.

Ways to Develop Growth Mindset Culture

There are no quick fixes or silver bullets. Fostering a Growth Mindset culture takes time. Learning and development play a key role in the cultivation of Growth Mindset in organizations. In leadership development, leaders who are more self-aware of their behaviors towards subordinates is a catalyst for Growth Mindset. Their communication style, the way feedback is handled, and team management approach is some of the aspects of self-awareness. Managers who are attuned to these aspects encourage people to learn how to ‘fail better’ and create a safer environment for communication. During coaching, these are the managers who tend to listen, ask questions and understand employee motivations. This helps to improve employee engagement and job performance.

Conclusion

Growth Mindset demands continuous learning in individuals. In an ever-changing workplace, a high learning agility and resilience are crucial for survival. Change occurs faster than evolving skillsets can keep pace with.

In our research involving Growth Mindset, there are significant linkages between Growth Mindset and individual performance, leadership development, change management, team synergy, sales effectiveness and service excellence. Whether your organization is undergoing change or gearing up for the evolution of the workforce, leveraging on Growth Mindset may prove to be the difference between thriving and struggling.

  1. Minds of Successful Managers (Lead with Strategic Perspectives)   For Managers/ Leaders
  2. Coaching for Growth For Managers/ Leaders
  3. Growth Mindset for Sales   For Sales Professionals
  4. Connecting with Customers   For Customer Service Professionals
  5. Growth Mindset and Innovation –  For Individuals and Managers
  6. Growth Mindset –  For Individuals and Managers
  7. Agility for Change –  For Individuals and Managers

Carol Dweck is the Lewis & Virginia Eaton Professor of Psychology at Stanford University and the author of Mindset: The New Psychology of Success.