Do you believe that your skills, intelligence and abilities can be developed over time? Or do you believe that your talents are mostly fixed, meaning that if you’re not really good at something now, you probably won’t ever be great at it? These are critical questions to ask yourself. That’s because your mindset — how you view, interpret and act on decisions, problems and challenges in your life — can play a significant role in your success and happiness. Or it can hold you back from being the person — and business leader — you want to be.
American psychologist Carol Dweck is credited for identifying two main types of mindsets. A growth (also called learning) mindset is a belief that with hard work, desire and perseverance, most people can develop and improve their talents, abilities, and intelligence. On the other hand, those with a fixed mindset believe that a person’s talent and intelligence are more or less innate — you either have certain characteristics or you don’t. In other words, there are ‘gifted’ people and there’s everyone else. Those with fixed mindsets do not believe they (or anyone else for that matter) can significantly improve their innate qualities.
There’s no shortage of examples of the great things that can be accomplished with a growth mindset. For example, at Microsoft, Satya Nadella made it his mission to revamp the leadership and the culture at Microsoft with a growth mindset after taking over in 2014. In his book, Hit Refresh, Nadella explains that mindsets– specifically helping employees at the company develop growth mindsets– were his tool for taking Microsoft to the next level. After more than a decade of static market capitalization and share price, Nadella helped usher in a new era for Microsoft, one in which the company’s market capitalization and stock price more than tripled. Pfizer, too, credits a growth mindset for the company’s success and growth.
One of the keys in developing a growth mindset is to help yourself and your organization’s leaders view failure as an opportunity to reflect, learn and improve your skills. In many organizations, failure is not tolerated or viewed negatively, which makes employees fearful of making mistakes and as a result less likely to take risks and think innovatively. To adopt a growth mindset, business leaders and employees must embrace risk and imperfection and push themselves out of established comfort zones.
Henry Ford once said, “Whether you believe you can do a thing or not, you are right.” He couldn’t have been more right.