HR Leadership Forum Extracts: The Growth Mindset

Miramar’s inaugural HR leadership forum tackled the theme: “How to elevate resilience in your leadership team”. The goal of the workshop was to enable the leadership team to think more strategically around how they lead and identify specific actions and behaviours to sustainably improve teams’ performance. A key area discussed by the forum was being able to move from a fixed to a growth mindset and how executives can use this to approach challenges. Bill Lawry, CEO at Ascend World, shared his thoughts on the growth mindset and what this means for the leaders who have it.

Do you have a growth mindset?
If not you could be seriously limiting your chances of taking on and being successful at more stretching and challenging tasks, projects and roles.
People with fixed mindsets believe that qualities such as talent, ability and intelligence are fixed over time (perhaps pre disposed at birth), whilst those with growth mindsets believe these things are all changeable as in growable and, if not paid attention to, shrinkable too! Research from eminent scientists such as Carol Dwerk (author of Mindset: How We Can Fulfil Our Potential) suggests that it is not our ability but our beliefs in our ability that make the big difference. Psychologists have shown that people with growth mindsets are more:

• Open to challenges
• Open to constructive feedback
• Resilient in the face of obstacles
• Likely to bounce back after initial failure
• Likely to link their success or failure to their efforts as opposed to their ability
• Able to learn well with and from others
• Likely to raise to the top and stay there

What does this mean for you as a leader?

Simply put, the difference between the two mindsets seems to be how people approach challenge. People with fixed mindsets see challenges as a pass or fail opportunity, where as those with growth mindsets see challenges as opportunities to learn and improve. This is important because as a leader of people you can re-inforce a particular mindset by the way you manage your people. To encourage growth mindsets in your people and your organisations:

• Show interest in what people are doing and notice when people are working hard
• Rather than praising people for being clever, praise them for the effort they put in attempting to conquer difficult challenges whether they succeed or not
• Praise effort and dedication in relation to the specific task not in comparison to others
• Create a climate where your people feel it is ok to fail. Then help them learn from each failure. ‘Fail, Fail again, Fail better’ Samuel Beckett

A key factor in people development and sustainable performance improvement appears to be the willingness for people to put themselves in challenging situations, then make and learn from mistakes.


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