Growth Mindset

Cultivating a Growth Mindset

Cultivating a growth mindset


Future Fit Leaders with a Growth Mindset are those who embrace challenges and persevere when faced with adversity. They are leaders who believe they can do anything and are willing to take on complex tasks and learn through effort.

Decades of scientific research into motivation indicate that a growth mindset, which holds that skills and abilities can be improved in ways that shape the purpose of the work that you do, leads to academic achievement, relational fulfilment, and professional success. Future Fit Leaders with a Growth Mindset are those who embrace challenges and persevere when faced with adversity. They are leaders who believe they can do anything and are willing to take on complex tasks and learn through effort.

“A mindset refers to whether you believe qualities such as intelligence and talent are fixed or changeable traits.”

Mindset refers to a set of deeply held beliefs, attitudes and assumptions that form habits of mind. Mindset can also function as a key aspect of what we consider our sense of self and of how you see the world informs who you are. A mindset reflects the cognitive processes that occur when we’re presented with a given situation or task. In other words, how we react and react to stimuli. Put simply, developing a mindset is essential for us to make notes of and navigate life.

The concept of a growth mindset was created by psychologist Carol Dweck and made popular in her book, “Mindset: The New Psychology of Success”.  In recent years, this concept has been taken into the workplace.

A mindset, according to Dweck, is a self-perception or “self-theory” that people hold about themselves. Believing that you are either “intelligent” or “unintelligent” is a simple example of a mindset. People may also have a mindset related to their personal or professional lives— “I’m a good mentor” or “I’m a bad co-worker,” for example.

People can be aware or unaware of their mindsets, but they can have a deep effect on learning success, skill acquisition, personal relationships, professional success, and many other dimensions of life. Mindset coupled with consistent action is the key to achieving and sustaining success. The mind steers almost everything. Your mindsets (thoughts, beliefs, and expectations) are the lenses through which you perceive the world. And these lenses affect how you live and the choices you make every day. Your mindset is formed by a combined interaction of thoughts and corresponding emotions and images. The mindsets people adopt have everything to do with their judgment of anything. When you are constantly hearing and repeating stories about “the way things are”, the narrative gets daily reinforcement.

In short, mindsets are 1) what you value and 2) the corresponding choices you make.

Fixed versus Growth Mindset

Let us explore the variations of mindsets.

Fixed Mindset: In a fixed mindset, people believe their basic qualities, like their intelligence or talent, are fixed traits. They spend their time documenting their intelligence or talent instead of developing them. They also believe that talent alone creates success—without effort. (Dweck, 2015)

Growth Mindset: In a growth mindset, people believe that their most basic abilities can be developed through dedication and hard work—brains and talent are just the starting point. This view creates a love of learning and resilience that is essential for great accomplishment.(Dweck, 2015)

The main difference between the two mindsets is the belief in the permanence of intelligence and ability; one views it as very permanent, with little to no room for change in either direction, while the other views it as more changeable, with opportunities for improvement (or, for that matter, regression).

One of the most basic beliefs we carry about ourselves, Dweck found in her research, has to do with how we view and inhabit what we consider to be our personality. A “fixed mindset” assumes that our character, intelligence, and creative ability are static givens which we can’t change in any meaningful way, and success is the affirmation of that inherent intelligence, an assessment of how those givens measure up against an equally fixed standard; striving for success and avoiding failure at all costs become a way of maintaining the sense of being smart or skilled. A “growth mindset,” on the other hand, thrives on challenge and sees failure not as evidence of unintelligence but as a heartening springboard for growth and for stretching our existing abilities. Out of these two mindsets, which we manifest from a very early age, springs a great deal of our behaviour, our relationship with success and failure in both professional and personal contexts, and ultimately our capacity for happiness. Cornerstone: How our mindset shapes our lives.

At the heart of what makes the “growth mindset” so winsome, Dweck found, is that it creates a passion for learning rather than a hunger for approval. Its hallmark is the conviction that human qualities like intelligence and creativity, and even relational capacities like love and friendship, can be cultivated through effort and deliberate practice. Not only are people with this mindset not discouraged by failure, but they don’t actually see themselves as failing in those situations — they see themselves as learning. Dweck writes:

Why waste time proving over and over how great you are when you could be getting better? Why hide deficiencies instead of overcoming them? Why look for friends or partners who will just shore up your self-esteem instead of ones who will also challenge you to grow? And why seek out the tried and true instead of experiences that will stretch you? The passion for stretching yourself and sticking to it, even (or especially) when it’s not going well, is the hallmark of the growth mindset. This mindset allows people to thrive during some of the most challenging times in their lives. Cornerstone: How our mindset shapes our lives.

In a nutshell, growth-oriented individuals are clearly more positive and tend to develop a passion for lifelong learning and self-improvement, while the fixed mindset limits opportunities for growth and decreases motivation levels.

Why is a growth mindset important in business?

Companies are now realising that the difference between fixed and growth mindsets in adults can significantly impact workplace performance. In addition to the personal development benefits, a growth mindset also makes employees better team players.

Managers with a growth mindset benefit their team substantially. Why? A growth-oriented manager will be more open to feedback and ideas from his employees without interpreting it as scepticism towards their capabilities and leadership ability.

Regarding coaching and mentoring, managers with growth mindsets are better at approaching and guiding people than fixed ones. This is because if a manager believes that one’s ability can be cultivated and developed, they will invest more into coaching and training their employees to become better. Therefore, is a good idea to nurture a growth culture in the organisation.

Managers that possess fixed mindsets tend to believe in the initial impressions they have of their staff. This means that if the manager regards an employee as a “high performer”, he will retain his opinions even when the employee shows degradation in their performance.

Conversely, a growth-oriented leader will be more responsive to the changes in their employees, meaning both negative and positive changes are well-noted regardless of their previous performance.

Leaders with a Growth Mindset:

  • Achieve greater diversity
  • Drive motivation and achievement
  • Inspire more
  • Make room for growth
  • Facilitate a learning culture
  • Are feedback fit
  • Seek out challenges and don’t fear failure

The good news is that a Growth Mindset can be developed. Five mindset shifts to make are:

  • Acknowledge and embrace imperfections
  • View challenges as opportunities to learn and improve
  • Reframe what FAIL means (First Attempt in Learning)
  • Stop seeking approval – don’t prioritize approval over learning
  • Value the process (of trying) over the end result

Learnsmartly is a critical first step to understanding yourself and your behavioural preferences, as well as how you show up. One cannot change what one isn’t aware of. The Learnsmartly report will give you a starting point from which to cultivate a growth mindset. It will allow you to:

  • Become a more self-aware, self-directed, proactive learner leveraging the best way to learn.
  • Retain and apply to learn more effectively and efficiently
  • Improve personal mastery and resilience in the context of learning

The LearnSmartly assessment is a critical first step in becoming a future fit lifelong learner

Dr Eric Albertini (PhD) is the founder and CEO of the Future Fit Academy and a partner of Learnsmartly

  1. https://cornerstone.ac.za/fixed-vs-growth-the-two-basic-mindset-that-shape-our-lives/?gclid=Cj0KCQjw166aBhDEARIsAMEyZh72MCLIcctErCKtgecRN9eoXETno2fCTurlHCvE2U8dtVQ_y-U4nscaAv8_EALw_wcB
  • “Mindsets: Developing Talent Through a Growth Mindset,” Olympic Coach / Carol S. Dweck, 2009, www.teamusa.org/
  • Jesse Jacoby Emergent Journal “Influencing Mindset and Behaviour Change” Feb 13, 2012. Accessed 17th June 2020
  • Ellie Walburg “Seeing success: why you should promote a growth mindset in the workplace” October 11, 2018. Accessed 17th June 2020
  1. Rick Yvanovich “Growth Mindset at Work: Why and How?” Thu, Jan 24, 2019. Accessed 17th June 2020
  1. Scott Jeffrey “A Complete Guide to Changing Your Fixed Mindset into a Growth Mindset” Accessed 18th June 2020. https://scottjeffrey.com/change-your-fixed-mindset/