This article was produced for techSPARK’s Leadership Month, sponsored by The Conscious Leadership Co (TCLC). ‘Growth’ is the third blog in the Five Pillars of Conscious Leadership series. Read on to learn about how you can nurture your mindset’s growth. Stay tuned for the next pieces to come this month, and make sure to check out the Awake and Resilience features. 

By Rosie Wintour, Head of Content at TCLC.

Contrary to popular belief, hard work doesn’t always lead to success. Certainly, effort is an important factor but if it is spent repeating mistakes, or wasted trying to fix broken relationships it doesn’t always lead to the desired outcome. Only when the effort is directed towards learning and growing from challenges or failed attempts will it result in success.

Carol Dweck, a Stanford University professor, has spent years researching the concept of growth and fixed mindsets and how important it is that we understand them, that we know how to spot them and that we learn to operate with a growth mindset as often as possible. 

But why and what’s the difference between a fixed and growth mindset?

Fixed Mindset

– belief that intelligence is static

This leads to a desire to look smart and therefore has a tendency to: 

  • Avoid challenges
  • Give up easily
  • See effort as fruitless
  • Ignore useful feedback
  • Feel threatened by the success of others

People with a fixed mindset can, as a result, not fulfil their full potential. Efforts go into protecting and defending ideas, rather than learning new ways of doing and thinking. 

Growth Mindset

belief that intelligence can be developed

This leads to a desire to learn and therefore a tendency to: 

  • Embrace challenges
  • Persist in the face of setbacks
  • See effort as a path to mastery
  • Learn from criticism
  • Seek feedback (even if it’s hard to hear)
  • Find lessons and inspiration in the success of others

As a result, people with a growth mindset tend to reach higher levels of achievement and potential, explore new opportunities, and learn ideas that unlock new thinking and possibilities. 

Those with a greater level of growth mindset believe that talents can be developed through hard work, good strategies, and input from others. Based on that belief, they tend to achieve more than those with a more fixed mindset, who believe that talents are innate gifts. With a growth mindset, we’re less bothered about thinking we need to have all the answers, and more interested in learning and asking more questions.

With a growth mindset, you’re more likely to:

  • Have realistic expectations of others
  • Believe that people want to help each other
  • Believe that people can experiment using different ways of doing things
  • Embrace the talents of others which helps with collaboration
  • Ask for help
  • Praise and congratulate others when they’ve done good work

We all have fixed-mindset triggers that inhibit our growth mindset. When we face challenges, receive criticism, or are faring poorly compared with others, we can think in a more fixed and rigid way. Unless people believe they can succeed, they will be stifled even if they have the capability to achieve much more.

Do you have a growth mindset?

On a spectrum of 1-10 (fixed to growth mindset), where do you think you sit? Are there certain situations in which you are more likely to operate from a position of fixed or growth mindset?

Those with a growth mindset display different patterns of activation in the brain than those with a fixed mindset. Their mental resources and attention are engaged in a way that enhances learning and retention of new information, and they are more resilient in the face of setbacks. 

A growth mindset is vital for learning, and why people with a growth mindset often respond better to feedback, they see it as simply more data to help them grow.

Research shows that organisations with a learning or growth mindset culture tend to achieve higher levels of performance because there’s more trust and greater ownership, and people are more willing to take risks. Teams with a growth mindset are better at openly expressing disagreements, accepting feedback from one another, learning from challenges, mistakes and setbacks, and will tend to set more challenging goals for themselves.

The good news is that a growth mindset can be developed. Simply understanding what it is can start to enhance your growth mindset characteristics but the key is to approach every situation as an opportunity for learning, to ask good quality questions about what could be done better next time and to come at all problem-solving with openness and curiosity.

Shona Wright

Shona covers all things editorial at TechSPARK. She publishes news articles, interviews and features about our fantastic tech and digital ecosystem, working with startups and scaleups to spread the word about the cool things they're up to. She also oversees TechSPARK's social media, sharing the latest updates on everything from investment news to green tech meetups and inspirational stories.