Building Growth Mindsets to Manage Pressure
Growth Mindsets have been around for over 20 years. With companies like Microsoft finding this helps them innovate, triple their revenue, and double their profits, despite intense competition from Google and Apple, others are starting to wonder whether they shouldn’t be taking the Growth Mindset concept more seriously.
Building a Growth Mindset can do more than improve leadership development, engagement and performance. It can also offer a real advantage in helping equip individuals with a mindset that will enable them to cope when the pressure is on, helping pressure remain a positive factor.
In addition to helping manage stress, the benefits of growth mindset cultures can be significant:
- Workers have 47% higher trust in their company
- Workers are 34% more likely to feel a sense of ownership and commitment to the future of their company
- Workers show 65% stronger agreement that their company supports risk-taking
(Dweck, C., Murphy, M., Chatman, J., & Kray, L. (n.d.). Why Fostering a Growth Mindset in Organizations Matters. In Senn Delaney.
A Growth Mindset is of particular value in helping us manage or avoid stress. It helps individuals sit more comfortably with uncertainty, be more honest about their feelings of vulnerability and not feel scared at the prospect of reaching out for help and support.
Has the pandemic presented us with an opportunity or a challenge? Those with a Growth Mindset are more likely to believe in an opportunity, perhaps to reset. To become, in the words of CEO Satya Nadella, ‘learn-it-alls’ rather than “know-it-alls”.
Learning, in other words, what this pandemic has taught us about ourselves, about others and how we do business, and using it to carve out innovative and creative ways forward.
Why Do Growth Mindsets Help Us Cope With Pressure?
1) encourage us to tune into thoughts, to question their accuracy and helpfulness. Out of perspective, irrational, unhelpful thoughts are major contributors to stress.
2) recognise the need to stretch out of our comfort zones without fear of embarrassment or failure (Remember FAIL…First Attempt in Learning). Those who try and protect themselves from being seen to fail, have a frail sense of self or are highly attuned to their status, can often risk the stagnation that accompanies the fixed mindset.
3) value connection within teams. Where it becomes possible to fail without risk of humiliation and to present half an idea without fear of reprisals.
So What Are Growth And Fixed mindsets?
Our knowledge of mindsets is based on over 35 years of research led by Professor Carol Dweck of Stanford University. Fixed mindset thoughts believe intelligence and talent are things we are born with. This leads to negative reactions to failure and less likelihood of trying something new, now or in the future, for fear of failure or fear of being seen to fail. In the workplace, this can lead to covering up mistakes, blaming others and ignoring constructive feedback.
If we have lots of fixed mindset thoughts, we are easily threatened by others’ achievements, leading to controlling behaviour, both in handling and taking credit for our own work and how we treat colleagues. The ramifications of a fixed mindset are poor for individual development, team cohesion, and the organisation's culture as a whole.
Growth mindset thoughts are about not fearing failure and being willing to put ourselves up for a challenge. They encompass the belief that with effort and support, we all have the capacity to succeed, particularly when this is viewed as a chance to grow.
Growth Mindset Research
Dweck’s research has shown that when children read and learn about the brain; how malleable it is, and how it grows and changes when responding to a challenge; they are more likely to carry on and try again if they don’t succeed.
This knowledge encourages them to have a thirst for learning, welcome a challenge, look for alternatives, value effort and not see failure as something permanent – in other words, they develop a growth mindset by tuning into their thoughts.
In the workplace, those with a growth mindset believe talents and abilities can be developed, appreciate the value of mistakes and criticism; and thus pick themselves up to find a solution, seize challenges, and find the success of others inspiring rather than threatening.
Building A Growth Mindset Culture Virtual Session
This 3 hour, live, virtual session includes:
- Helping employees identify and build their strengths
- How we can develop self-awareness and a willingness to put forward ideas without fear of embarrassment if these are knocked back
- How to empower employees to be more curious and constantly seek ways to improve how they carry out their role and achieve objectives
- Ways to help those who struggle with failure, who are too quick to say, “I can’t”, and don’t believe in the power of effort
- What enables employees to have the confidence to step outside their comfort zone and try new approaches
- For leaders, how do we encourage reflection on the benefits a Growth Mindset culture can bring to an organisation and whether an emphasis on striving for success could inhibit risk-taking and hinder learning through fear of failure, rather than success evolving from failure and employees learning and developing from this
Thanks to our Growth Mindset trainer Michelle Spirit for this article.
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