Developing a Growth Mindset Culture inspired by Dweck

Developing a Growth Mindset Culture inspired by Dweck

Dr. Carol Dweck is a Psychologist at Stanford University who spent decades researching the concept of a growth mindset, “the power of yet”.

Dr. Dweck defines two types of mindsets - fixed mindsets and growth mindsets. In her research Dr. Dweck found that when a child has a Fixed Mindset they run away from challenges, they even go as far as to cheat, and compare themselves with children who do worse than they do. If they have a Growth Mindset, they see difficulties as a challenge to overcome, from which they can learn from.

These same principles apply to adults as well.

In her classic book,
Mindset: The Psychology of Success

Dweck states "Believing that your qualities are carved in stone — the fixed mindset — creates an urgency to prove yourself over and over. If you have only a certain amount of intelligence, a certain personality, and a certain moral character — well, then you’d better prove that you have a healthy dose of them. It simply wouldn’t do to look or feel deficient in these most basic characteristics.

Fixed vs Growth Mindsets

[Image courtesy of Nigel Holmes.]


I’ve seen so many people with this one consuming goal of proving themselves — in the classroom, in their careers, and in their relationships. Every situation calls for a confirmation of their intelligence, personality, or character. Every situation is evaluated: Will I succeed or fail? Will I look smart or dumb? Will I be accepted or rejected? Will I feel like a winner or a loser? . . ."

Embedded in my mind is my mother’s voice, telling me two things, “if you don’t try hard you will never succeed” and “always aim to be better than what you were before”. These two things drove me to always be the best that I could be and I knew that if I put in the effort I would get to where I wanted to be, no matter how many times I tripped up, or how many errors I encountered along the way.

Working in an environment where perseverance, effort and commitment are core values is important, so how do we build and foster a growth mindset culture in business, and how can leadership roles help to promote a growth mindset culture?

There are a few things that can help to create a growth mindset culture:

1. Rewarding Hard Work and Effort Despite Setbacks

In business there is always going to be a strong focus on results and profit, and I’m not saying we should change that. However, promoting an environment where effort, hard work and perseverance are core values that are rewarded and recognised, will help to drive a growth mindset culture.

2. Lead by Example

Think about the role that you play in creating a growth mindset culture: Are you leading by example? Are you rewarding and praising others for their efforts, contributing to the greater team, hard work, and perseverance? Understanding, appreciating and putting value on the effort that your colleagues put into their work, and showing that understanding and appreciation will lead to the start of a growth mindset. This isn’t just how to create a culture of growth mindsets, but it is also a great example of good leadership.

3. Start Today 

Start saying “yet”, and encourage others by helping them to change their mindset, when they say “I can’t”, tell them “you can’t yet”. Recognise and reward hard work and effort. If someone dropped everything to help you on a project, thank them for their commitment and effort.

How else can you create a Growth Mindset Culture?

In this 2014 TEDx talk, Dr Carol Dweck speaks about her research into mindsets and the power of yet. She describes fixed vs growth mindsets and challenges you to think about how you are raising the children around you, are we raising kids for now instead of yet? How is your mindset? Do you persist in the face of challenge? All these principals relate not only to children, but to everyone around you.

In this TEDx talk