Growth Mindset vs. Fixed Mindset
The concept of a growth mindset has gained significant attention in recent years, especially in the business world. Coined by Stanford psychologist Carol Dweck, growth mindset refers to the belief that one’s abilities and intelligence can be developed over time through hard work, effort, and dedication. It contrasts with the fixed mindset, which assumes that individuals have a predetermined set of talents and abilities that cannot be changed.
My introduction to growth mindset came while working at a low-performing middle school on the verge of closure. It was presented as the panacea for our poor attendance, struggling test scores, and all other ailments. Surely, a mindset couldn’t be the fix for a failing school or business, right? But I figure if the penny-pinching district I knew had dished out $20k for a speaking fee, it might be worth a listen.
Mawi Asgedom was introduced as an internationally recognized speaker and author on leadership. During his speech, he shared how his adoption of growth mindset was critical for overcoming his life challenges and that his shift in mindset had led him to his widespread successes. It all sounded reasonable and simple enough if you go into something with a positive attitude you are more likely to succeed. Armed with this newfound idea, we all walked out of the auditorium with lime green cardboard buttons to remind us to “hit turbo” and change our mindsets when the going got tough. Admittedly, for many, this mindset lasted as long as the ink did on our tattered cardstock buttons. Still, those who had acknowledged their mindset for growth always seemed to have just a tiny bit left to give when met with adversity.
Growth Mindset in Business
According to Dweck, individuals with a growth mindset tend to embrace challenges, persist in the face of setbacks, and view failure as an opportunity for growth and learning. This mindset has been linked to a range of positive outcomes, including increased motivation, achievement, and resilience (Dweck, 2008). In the business world, the mindset for growth is particularly important because it can drive innovation and creativity, as well as foster a culture of continuous improvement.
Seeking out this mindset is important both for employers looking to hire as well as for candidates in search of positive company culture. Understanding your candidate’s ability to adapt to change can help you make a more informed decision when hiring. The Josh Bersin company released a report in 2022 saying, “Companies looking for candidates who exhibit growth mindset with curiosity and creativity are more than seven times more likely to achieve high levels of engagement and more than eight times more likely to be recognized as great places to work.” Admittingly, it seems working amongst people who have a growth mindset makes for a more productive and seemingly enjoyable work environment. As Dweck notes, companies that prioritize to have such mindset are more likely to encourage collaboration, risk-taking, and a willingness to learn from others (Dweck, 2016). This can lead to greater innovation, improved problem-solving, and a more engaged and motivated workforce.
It is important, however, to note that cultivating a growth mindset within an organization is not always easy. It requires a commitment from leaders to create a culture that values effort, learning, and improvement over short-term success or immediate results. Leaders must also be willing to model a growth mindset themselves, demonstrating a willingness to take risks, learn from failure, and seek out new opportunities for growth and development. My takeaway from trying to see this mindset implemented in a large setting is that not everyone is equipped with it, and some may struggle to adopt it. While it sounds simple enough, the last thing someone going through a difficult time wants to hear is how it’s a learning opportunity.
While having a growth mindset can be an essential concept for organizations and businesses alike, it is by no stretch a cure-all. Those who chose to embrace this mindset can develop the resilience, motivation, and adaptability needed to thrive in today’s fast-paced and constantly changing business environment. While those who don’t lose out on a potentially, collaborative, engaging, and positive environment. While it is not an easy shift the potential gains seem to outweigh possible growing pains. As Carol Dweck notes, “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” (Dweck, 2006).
Bersin, J. & Mertens, J (2022). The Definitive Guide to Recruiting: Human-Centered Talent Acquisition, The Josh Bersin Company.
Dweck, C. S. (2006). Mindset: The New Psychology of Success. Ballantine Books.
Dweck, C. S. (2008). Mindset: How You Can Fulfill Your Potential. Constable & Robinson Limited.
Dweck, C. S. (2016). What Having a “Growth Mindset” Actually Means. Harvard Business Review. Retrieved from https://hbr.org/2016/01/what-having-a-growth-mindset-actually-means.