This article is part of The Ascender, the Highrise platform for articles and resources.

What Does Having a Growth Mindset Mean?

Andrew Langat
November 11, 2021
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 “It’s kind of fun to do the impossible”-Walt Disney.

Disney’s words are a window into the mind of a great man and one of the greatest innovators of the 20th century. Walt Disney’s words also reflect the kind of mindset needed to lead a team. His leadership brought about animated cartoons, mega amusement parks, and several other inventions. 

Walt Disney died decades ago; however, his legacy lives on through the giant Walt Disney Company. The company has one of the most aggressive growth mindsets. This is evident through their constant acquisitions and inventions

The success of The Walt Disney Company can be replicated through mentoring, leadership coaching, and executive coaching.

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Growth Mindset Definition

The simplest definition of a growth mindset is that everyone can develop their talents through hard work, mentoring from others, and good strategies.

In essence, having a growth strategy means a belief that one’s intelligence is malleable and improvable.

This mindset is beneficial for leadership at all levels, as it lets leaders motivate team members and help them improve their skills through effort and persistent encouragement.

A leader with a growth mindset embraces new challenges, navigates formidable obstacles, and finds motivation in other people’s success.

Olympic sports such as competitive swimming, running, and other sports are perhaps some of the most apparent evidence that the growth mindset works.

No one is born as an Olympian; however, with thousands of hours of practice, coaching, and support, ordinary human beings transform their bodies and minds to the best form possible.

The growth mindset of Olympians might be an extreme example; nevertheless, it is an excellent example of ordinary people achieving extraordinary things. The growth mindset is beneficial for individuals in leadership positions as it yields several advantages, some of which are listed below.

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Importance of a Growth Mindset for Leaders

1. A Growth Mindset Makes a Leader More Trustworthy

Trust is crucial in all companies and organizations since the success of any organization or company is almost exclusively due to the efforts and talents of its employees.

A growth mindset creates trust by presenting new ideas and skills as learnable. A leader with a growth mindset will appear more trustworthy to all parties in an organization or company in several ways.

First, a growth mindset makes a leader more approachable. A leader with this mindset will accept new ideas, spot problems from afar, and recognize their faults when challenged. This is in contrast to leaders with a fixed mindset who will reject new ideas, gloss over problems, and reject any criticism.

Secondly, a growth mindset means that a leader understands that learning and skill-building is a process. This builds trust by letting team members grow and not just punishing team members with skill gaps.

Finally, a growth mindset promotes trust by accepting feedback in an open manner with the promise of future action.

2. Team Members Feel a Sense of Ownership and Greater Commitment

Encouraging ownership of work and accountability within team members is one of the hallmarks of great leadership.

A growth mindset in leadership creates ownership and accountability by aligning team standards with the organization’s goals and objectives.

3. A Growth Mindset Fosters Innovation

 This is perhaps the most obvious need for a growth mindset in leadership. A belief in making things better directly leads to an innovation culture in organizations or companies.

Satya Nadella, Microsoft’s CEO, put it best with his words when he opined that “culture eats strategy for breakfast.” It doesn’t matter what innovation strategy a company has-if the culture is off, then the process won’t work.

A growth mindset in leadership empowers team members and puts them on the path to innovation, which leads to success. 

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How to Develop a Growth Mindset?

Here's how you can develop a growth mindset:

1. Reflect

As a leader, one should always look in the mirror and reflect on challenges, successes, and failures.

Reflecting on past strategies makes a leader more aware of possible areas of improvement and weakness one needs to work on.

Ignoring problems will only exacerbate them and hinder your ability to develop a growth mindset. 

 2. Find Your Purpose

A leader must act like a rudder on a ship to be effective. However, a rudder can only be effective if the vessel has a pre-planned destination. This is the essence of having a purpose as a leader. Purpose gives direction and helps you prepare for success or failure. As a bonus, purpose helps a leader create milestones to gauge progress.

For these reasons, having a purpose is key to developing a growth mindset and becoming a more effective leader. 

3. Develop Situational Awareness

Situational awareness in the context of leadership is all about having the ability to know where you are,  past steps taken, and future goals and objectives.

Fundamentally, a leader with situational awareness keeps in touch with the situation at hand and possesses a 360 degree command of a situation.

Situational awareness creates a growth mindset among team members and lets them develop new opportunities and better utilize existing ones.

4. Embrace Change

Leadership inertia could be a hurdle when developing a growth mindset, but shattering negative perceptions of new ideas could help you overcome this hurdle.

To develop a growth mindset, a leader must embrace new ideas and relish new learning experiences.

5. Be Clear on What You Expect From Your Team

While having a growth mindset is all about being different and taking on new challenges, it should not come at the expense of miscommunication.

Pay attention to your team’s leadership decisions and clearly explain what you expect from them. Explain your growth strategy and what role you expect each team member to play on the journey to future growth. 

6. Embrace Uncertainty and Ambiguousness

Part of having a growth strategy is tolerating risk. While it might seem counterintuitive at first glance, ambiguity and uncertainty can unearth new opportunities.

Given this fact, leaders should embrace ambiguity and uncertainty in team member’s decisions and strategy options. 

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How Highrise will help

Having the correct growth mindset opens many doors as you are able to reach your full potential. It enables you to overcome obstacles that could otherwise lead to failure and regret. If you are struggling with this, Highrise has experienced coaches to guide you toward the next level of personal growth.

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Andrew Langat
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Andrew Langat is an experienced content specialist in Leadership, Productivity, Education, Fintech, and Research. He is an avid reader and loves swimming as a hobby. He believes that quality content should be actionable and helpful.