The powerful concept of growth mindset that drives high performance continues to gain traction within the corporate world. Introduced by world-renowned psychologist Carol Dweck, following decades of research on achievement and success, growth mindset is what drives people to achieve goals.
In her book, Mindset: The New Psychology of Success, Dr. Dweck distinguishes between people with a growth mindset, who recognize that abilities and talents can be developed, from people with a fixed mindset, who believe that abilities are set.
In the introduction to her book, Dr. Dweck writes: “In this book, you’ll learn how a simple belief about yourself – a belief we discovered in our research guides a large part of your life. In fact, it permeates every part of your life. Much of what you think of as your personality actually grows out of your ‘mindset.’ Much of what may be preventing you from fulfilling your potential grows out of it.”
Numerous publications, including Forbes and HBR continue to follow Dr. Dweck’s research. One of her greatest advocates is Dr. David Rock, founder of the Neuroleadership Institute*, the global initiative that brings neuroscientists and leadership experts together to build a new science for leadership.
Dr. Rock explains that very few people have a growth mindset about everything and gives the example of an engineer who unconsciously is very confident about learning new code and new software programs. This same person may have a fixed mindset and not even realize it, about giving presentations, for example.
With his growth mindset, the engineer assumes he can learn anything related to technology. The fixed mindset, on the other hand, convinces him that, “I am the way I am, and I can’t get any better.” He has closed his mind to the possibility of improving his presentations. He may even believe that some people are just naturally good at things – reinforced by his supreme ease with technology – while others are not, which justifies his inept presentations.
According to Dr. Dweck’s research, people with a growth mindset perform better. They put forth a greater effort, ask for feedback more often, process feedback differently in the brain, take more risks and experiment more. They even set better goals and more stretch goals.
When organizations enable managers to develop a growth mindset, through dedicated, professional development, they are helping them to encourage this same concept in their direct reports. Dr. Rock maintains that rigid employee assessment processes foster a fixed mindset by forcing people to “prove” their worthiness, rather than “improve.” When people have a fixed mindset, they believe they are not in control of their abilities that skills are born, not built.
Exactly one year ago, an article in HBR explained how Dr. Dweck’s research impacts organizations:
“When entire companies embrace a growth mindset, their employees report feeling far more empowered and committed; they also receive far greater organizational support for collaboration and innovation. In contrast, people at primarily fixed-mindset companies report more of only one thing: cheating and deception among employees, presumably to gain an advantage in the talent race.”
*Corporate Class Inc. provides professional development training that explores Neuroleadership and how the prefrontal cortex (the so-called executive brain) is responsible for primary Executive functions.
This is a guest post from Corporate Class, a My Big Idea™ strategic partner and originally was published in January of 2018