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Developing a Growth Mindset

Trevor Townsend avatar

Trevor Townsend

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Developing a Growth Mindset

Successful entrepreneurs who scale businesses fast have many things in common; a quick search of the internet will provide you lists of the 5, 6, 10 and even 30 attributes that successful entrepreneurs ‘must-have’.

The top attributes that you would expect to see are there, including characteristics such as robust work ethic, deep passion for what they are doing, creativity and problem solving, resilience, openness to change, and eagerness to learn.

As you scale a business and build a team, other attributes such as building relationships, leadership, empathy, willingness to delegate, strategic thinking, integrity become essential.

If we look at the coin from the other side, we gain some insights by looking at why startup entrepreneurs fail. Our work with startups and data from CBInsights Top 20 reasons why startups fail show 12 of the top 20 reasons are team cohesion and mindset related.

These include not having the right team, getting outcompeted, a product without a business model, ignoring customers, loss of focus, team disharmony, a pivot that went bad, lack of passion, failed geographic expansion, didn’t use their network, burnout and failure to pivot.

The same counts for scale-ups; but is even more magnified. Scale-ups go through massive transitions that require a high level of adaptability.

Whether at startup or scale-up phase, or launching a venture within a corporate environment, mindset is the most important success factor. In other words, a Growth Mindset can help increase the success rate because it shifts the thinking from ‘Know-it All’ to ‘Learn-it All’.

Business owners, executives, managers or aspiring leaders who want to develop their career; leaders who want to transform their organisations to value creativity and innovation; and organisations that want to compete in a rapidly changing economy by embracing innovation and growth - should be developing a growth mindset alongside their structures, process, and tools, within their innovation function.

Developing a growth mindset is a crucial part of transforming an organisation. It requires a shift in mindset from executive management who are adept at minimising risk, operational control, and reliance on historical performance data.  Executives facing disruption and change must adopt an approach that encourages risk-taking - knowing that some efforts won’t get results or work - and rewarding and measuring lessons learned even if the project’s goal is not reached.

Managing innovation is about rewarding learning and progress, identifying if team members seek help, do they try new ways and do they capitalise on setbacks?

According to Mesut Celebi, a New York-based Executive Coach and leader in Growth Mindset, believes that a growth mindset can be learnt and developed, just like the other leadership and executive skills we develop as we progress in our careers. In today’s ever-increasing change and disruption environment,  a growth mindset is a skill we need to focus on developing now.

Celebi states that a way to start is to reflect on how you talk about your skills and traits, habits and tendencies.  “In my experience, a lot of this practice can happen on the level of reframing verbal expression, where you can shift your language from fixed to a growth mindset,” recommends Celebi.

‘I can’t, “I don’t’, “I would never”, ’I’m not good at”, “I get worked up when” are all indicators of a fixed mindset.  Whereas, a person with a growth mindset will use terms such as “I am learning to”, “I have yet to”, “I feel dissatisfied with my progress”, “I haven’t yet found the ”.

This, in turn, will shift your thoughts to a practice of thinking about the possibilities, the unmet potential, the opportunity to learn, according to Celebi.

A growth mindset is feeling confident in your ability to learn any skill you need to be an innovative leader and stop holding yourself back due to a fear of failure. To be less sensitive to constructive criticism and embrace ways to improve and coach your employees to reach their potential and inspire a growth-oriented culture that values learning and creativity.

This short YouTube clip demonstrates the benefit of developing a growth mindset has had for executives in some leading companies.

The last thing to say about the psychological side of a growth mindset is people who have this mindset are generally more resilient, better at coping with failure and more likely to challenge themselves. All attributes that lead to better mental health and wellbeing.

Please reach out if you would like to learn more about developing a Growth Mindset in your organisation.


Trevor Townsend avatar

Trevor Townsend

CEO @ Startupbootcamp Australia