Emma-Jane Flynn, managing director of The Supper Club, finds out how your business can get the chops to scale
Would you say you have a fixed mindset or a growth mindset? As business leaders, I’m sure we’d all rather say the latter but take a moment to see if that is the case.
If you find yourself thinking, believing or saying things like “some people are just naturally more intelligent and you can’t improve on your intelligence,” “I’m not really a creative person so I can’t do that” or “I see change as a threat rather than an opportunity” then I’m afraid your mindset might be a little more fixed than you thought.
A growth mindset is the opposite of these statements. It’s the belief that human abilities and qualities are malleable.
We recently hosted The AXA Growth Leaders Series: The Future of Leadership, where we heard from some fantastic business leaders who have adopted the growth mindset in order to successfully scale up. Our keynote speaker Eduardo Briceño, co-founder and CEO at Mindset Works, the provider of growth mindset development services and programmes, succinctly described the growth mindset as “the belief that human abilities and qualities are malleable.”
He added: “People who have a growth mindset want to do things we haven’t done before so that we can learn, grow and improve on them. It’s important to acknowledge where you might have a fixed mindset and change that. A fixed mindset takes failure as proof you can’t do something. In a growth mindset, you learn and ask how you can get better.”
With that in mind, here are three ways that you can utilise a growth mindset to the benefit of your business.
(1) Create a culture fit for growth
A key part of the growth mindset is seeing failure as an opportunity to grow and not letting the fear stop you from trying new things. Your team need to feel the same way so that they can experiment, speak up and grow. To do that they must be in a culture where that is encouraged and they aren’t harshly punished for small misdemeanours like being five minutes late to the office.
“[If] you develop people in an environment where they feel safe, they’ll become leaders, not just managers,” advised Charlie Walker, founder of Harmonic Finance, the recruitment agency.
It’s important to share your vision and goals for the company with your team so that they can adjust their mindset to be that of growth, like you. Sophie Devonshire, CEO at The Caffeine Partnership, the strategic consultancy which works with leaders to deliver brand-led business growth, commented that you must, “give everybody a sense of progress and evolutions. Progress gives a sense of pace. Communicate that this is part of something that is planned and part of a bigger story.”
(2) Lead by example
Having a growth mindset heavily relies on constantly learning new things. Whether it’s scratching up on your SEO or taking painting classes to encourage creativity, we should never stop learning. However, just telling your team to go and learn is unlikely to work. As a leader, you must lead by example. Share what you’ve been improving on or a new skill you’re learning so your team feel encouraged to improve themselves.
Briceño mentioned this as being crucial in his keynote speech. “As a leader are you making your learning visible to your team, not behind curtains?” he asked. “To improve, we must be deliberate about improvement. It doesn’t happen by magic.”
Encouraging learning will help foster a growth mindset in yourself and your team. You will also be improving yours and your team's skill set, breaking the constraints of a fixed mindset. Mark Winwood, director of psychological services for AXA PPP healthcare, the private medical insurance provider, added that it’s important to show your team your human side if you are to encourage growth. “As a leader share your challenges because that develops trust with your team,” he said. “Demonstrate that you are allowed to not be okay.”
(3) Attract the right talent
Parveen Dhanda, head of growth programmes and late stage at Tech Nation, the UK network for ambitious tech entrepreneurs, is highly experienced when it comes to talent recruitment. She spoke of the importance of culture when attracting and retaining talent. “When you look at your culture, be transparent,” she advised. “Have your mission and value set in stone. A lot of tech companies I work with hire millennials and what is important to them is how are they going to make an impact.”
A growth mindset with clear goals and room to learn, fail and improve will be far more attractive than a stagnant environment where staff are not inspired to aspire for more.
It’s also important to think about whether or not your candidate has the right skills for growth during the interview process. Briceño warns against only looking at technical skills. “We should look at their learning disposition as well,” he said “Ask questions like, what skills do you need to develop in order to succeed in this job? How do you give and receive feedback?”
If you can create the right culture, lead by example and attract the right talent you have a huge advantage against your competitors.