4 Ways Great Leaders Instill a Growth Mindset in Others

Whether in business, athletics or any other field, achieving success doesn’t come from natural ability and intelligence alone. It comes from having a growth mindset.

Growth-minded individuals are constantly looking for ways to get a little better than they were yesterday. They aren’t afraid to take risks or put in the extra effort to become better and achieve their desired results. For successful business leaders, a growth mindset often comes naturally, with attributes like persistence, diligence and the belief that you can always find ways to improve providing a powerful drive.

But for a company to succeed, leaders need to instill this growth mindset in their employees as well. Inspiring others isn’t always easy, particularly if your employees believe that their talent level and output are fixed. However, it is far from impossible.

1. Don’t worry about your own status.

Even if you think of yourself as a growth-minded individual, you could still accidentally be creating a fixed-mindset workplace because of the way you treat others.

Author Carol Dweck writes that managers should ask themselves some key questions about how they lead: “How do you act toward others in your workplace? Are you a fixed-mindset boss, focused on your power more than on your employees’ well-being? Do you ever reaffirm your status by demeaning others? Do you ever try to hold back high-performing employees because they threaten you?”

The goal of a growth mindset is to help everyone learn and achieve more together. You shouldn’t be trying to hog all the learning and praise to yourself. Make sure that you are a learning resource and coach, rather than an authoritarian boss obsessed with maintaining a strong image.

2. Instill and promote courage. 

Psychologist Abraham Maslow famously said, “Every day we can step into growth with courage or retreat into safety.” The key word here is courage. Without people being willing to step out and do something when they are scared, it’s almost impossible to have a growth mindset. Turns out that’s something you help people develop.

Dr. Will Sparks, author of Actualized Leadership, came on the Follow My Lead Podcast and said, “It’s the person’s responsibility of whether or not they will take growth steps. You can’t claim the outcome, but you can coach and encourage them.”

Helping your employees have courage isn’t easy but using empathy to put yourself in their shoes and understand where they are on their journey is the first step. Once you use empathy, do your best to help them see the cost of not being courageous.

3. Promote personal growth.

If you truly have your employees’ best interests at heart, you won’t merely be focused on driving company growth. You will actively encourage your team members to seek learning on their own and get a little bit better each day. John Wooden famously said, “You have to apply yourself each day to becoming a little better. By becoming a little better each and every day, over a period of time, you will become a lot better.” A great way to do this is by setting goals.

“Strong goals should always promote a growth mindset,” David Trainavicius, founder and CEO of PVcase explained in a recent email conversation. “You should encourage team members to set their own personal goals in addition to the goals you have as a department or company. Encouraging employees to commit to their own personal growth and giving them opportunities to develop these skills will pay big dividends later on.”

Indeed, Trainavicius’s efforts at establishing a growth mindset have helped his company achieve astounding results in a globally competitive field. To date, thanks to his employees’ efforts, over 100 PV engineers use the company’s software in Europe, Australia and the United States.

An employee’s personal growth will allow them to develop new skills that can lead to improved outcomes for your company, as exemplified above. In my company LearnLoft, I encouraged team members to start their own podcast to cover important topics around organizational health. Through this exercise, it had them investing in their own personal growth in order to host the show.  

4. Hire from within your organization.

You need to prove to your employees that your efforts to promote a growth mindset are more than just lip service. A 2018 workforce activity study by Global Talent Monitor found that 40 percent of employees who left their job cited a “lack of future career development” as a primary motivator for quitting.

Executives must consider how their actions — especially hiring practices — reflect on their commitment to career development and a growth mindset. When new positions open up, consider hiring from within.

Helping your employees adopt a growth mindset isn’t always easy. But doing so could make all the difference for the long-term output of your team. As you help others within your organization adopt this mindset, they will be better positioned to provide meaningful contributions to your company.

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About the Author John Eades is the CEO of LearnLoft, a leadership development company which exists to turn managers into leaders and create healthier places to work. John was named one of LinkedIn’s 2017 Top Voices in Management & Workplace and was awarded the 2017 Readership Award by Training Industry.com. John is also the author the upcoming book Building the Best: 8 Proven Leadership Principles to Elevate Others to Successand host of the “Follow My Lead” Podcast, a show that transfers stories and best practices from today’s leaders to the leaders of tomorrow. You follow him on Instagram @johngeades.

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