Leaders are exposed to obstacles every single day. In a disrupted and unpredictable world, developing a growth mindset is critical for leaders to navigate and overcome new challenges. In order to adapt, leaders must be willing to learn, expand their knowledge, and be open-minded to new ideas.
According to Forbes, developing a growth mindset is key to thriving in today’s competitive landscape (Wolfe, 2022). A growth mindset helps individuals become better leaders, embrace challenges, deal with setbacks, and find meaning in their work (Wolfe, 2022). Additionally, leaders that adopt a growth mindset encourage employees to be more innovative and more receptive to accepting new challenges – even during times of crisis (McCracken, n.d.). Therefore, leaders that want to set their organisation up for success must adopt a growth mindset.
Developing a growth mindset is critical for leaders to overcome challenges and be prepared for the unexpected. Here are three key ways leaders can create a growth mindset that will benefit not only themselves but will also benefit the teams they lead.
Become self-aware and practice self-awareness
Change from within begins with self-awareness. First, leaders must understand who they are, what they value, and what they believe. Leaders must also be able to get comfortable asking themselves tough questions and be willing to challenge their set of preconceived notions and beliefs. It does not mean that leaders need to be perfect. Instead, it creates an opportunity for leaders to reflect on their strengths while strategically identifying and filling gaps in areas they need to improve.
Leaders that are self-aware and practice self-awareness positively affect the organisation. According to research, leaders who practice self-awareness run organisations that have reduced overall stress, have more effective workplace relationships and are more productive in getting the job done (Topic Insights, 2021). Additionally, leaders who exhibit self-awareness are better decision-makers, a critical skill when navigating new challenges and complexities in the industry (Roberts, 2021). Truly, self-awareness is the prerequisite to having a growth mindset.
Be curious and ask questions
Being curious is not only an essential leadership trait – it is also an important part of developing a growth mindset. When leaders are curious, they tend to think rationally and deeply about business processes while finding better ways of doing things. They enjoy discussing ideas with team members and seek feedback when testing new concepts. Leaders who engage team members with new ideas improve the workplace culture. By engaging teams, leaders earn the trust of colleagues and encourage members to adopt a growth mindset.
Curiosity leads to innovation. According to the Harvard Business Review, curiosity leads to higher-performing and more adaptable organisations (Gino, 2021). Curiosity fosters creativity and allows an organisation to generate alternatives that may not have been considered. Curiosity fuels the human desire to learn and enables employees to continuously expand their knowledge no matter how experienced they might already be. As leaders strive to become future-ready, curiosity will be necessary for helping organisations rise and overcome future obstacles.
Recognise the value of learning and failing
To have a growth mindset, leaders must develop a learning mindset. Leaders must enjoy the process of learning and, most importantly, be willing to unlearn firmly held beliefs that may have worked in the past. Part of leadership is admitting error and changing one’s mind when new and better data are present.
Great leaders are also resilient to failure. While leaders recognise that failure can be scary, they do not let the fear hold them back. Instead, leaders see failure as an opportunity to learn and become better. Great leaders learn from their experiences, reflect on what they can do better, and have the courage to try again.
When leaders encourage failure, they normalise it, making it safe for employees to try new things. According to McKinsey, the fear of failure is a top inhibitor that stops companies from becoming innovative (Barsh, Capozzi, & Davidson, 2019). Unless people feel safe, they are less likely to take risks and chances. Leaders that create a workplace for people to learn and fail develop a requirement for companies to innovate: trust.
Bringing it all together
A growth mindset is vital for leaders to adapt to a constantly changing world. Leaders must solve new problems every day, and it is up to leaders to be prepared to overcome these challenges. Fortunately, with time and practice, anyone can develop a growth mindset. Self-awareness is a crucial starting point for understanding how we react to new ideas. Being curious and asking questions allow us to be open to adopting new ideas and engaging feedback from others. Recognizing the value of learning and accepting failure helps create a safe space to act, reflect, and try again. Truly, leaders must develop a growth mindset if they want to thrive in today’s ever-changing world.
Barsh, J., Capozzi, M. M., & Davidson, J. (2019, May 15). Leadership and innovation. McKinsey & Company. Retrieved October 8, 2022, from https://www.mckinsey.com/capabilities/strategy-and-corporate-finance/our-insights/leadership-and-innovation
Gino, F. (2021, July 8). The business case for Curiosity. The Business Case for Curiosity. Retrieved October 8, 2022, from https://hbr.org/2018/09/the-business-case-for-curiosity
McCracken. (n.d.). Why a growth mindset is crucial for business leadership. Why a Growth Mindset is Crucial for Business Leadership. Retrieved October 8, 2022, from https://www.mccrackenalliance.com/blog/why-a-growth-mindset-is-crucial-for-business-leadership
Roberts, D. (2021, August 20). Self-awareness is the key to making good decisions. Inc.com. Retrieved October 8, 2022, from https://www.inc.com/debra-roberts/self-awareness-is-key-to-making-good-decisions.html
Topic Insights. (2021, July 23). Why emerging leaders need self-awareness. Why Emerging Leaders Need Self-Awareness. Retrieved October 8, 2022, from https://topicinsights.com/leadership-management/best-skill-for-emerging-leaders-self-awareness/
Wolfe, I. (2022, May 6). Council post: Five business benefits of growth mindset: How to thrive in today's competitive environment. Forbes. Retrieved October 8, 2022, from https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbescoachescouncil/2022/05/05/five-business-benefits-of-growth-mindset-how-to-thrive-in-todays-competitive-environment/?sh=5e33de6874ab