Should I stay or should I grow?

There’s room for both growth and mixed mindsets, says Stephen Manley. 

Reading time: 2m 30s.

Nature vs. nurture… it’s one of the most interesting and long standing of debates, and it’s one that is certainly relevant to the modern business world. Are great managers born, or do they learn to lead? The answer is likely to be different depending on whether you currently have what’s become known as a ‘growth mindset’ or a ‘fixed mindset’.

What is a growth mindset?

A growth mindset is based in realism; it’s about moving forward while understanding the potential obstacles that lie in the way of success, acknowledging these challenges, and taking a solution-oriented approach to ongoing development. Business owners with a growth mindset are ready to embrace what lies ahead and find ways to fix problems.

As we delve deeper and deeper into the world of big data, analysis has fast become an integral part of operations and it’s helping to create a more healthy balance between the two mindsets. 

What is a fixed mindset?

A fixed mindset has its foundations in the concept of fear of failure. Like a growth mindset, it’s about understanding the challenges that lie ahead. Those with a fixed mindset typically look at how to avoid hitting these challenges, rather than exploring the different ways that they could overcome them once encountered.

Which mindset is best?

It seems to be clear that a growth mindset is ultimately best for business growth and future development. While a fixed mindset significantly limits the growth opportunities that a business will take, a growth mindset enables leaders to walk through open doors, fully aware of the potential risks on the other side but ready to face them head on.

Particularly in terms of recruitment and training your existing team, a growth mindset is essential; it promotes the idea of problem solving and creative thinking, of pushing the boundaries and developing new processes and procedures to streamline business operations. It can also lead to improved customer relationships and boost overall productivity.

However, a growth mindset alone perhaps isn’t the most effective way to achieve business success. As we delve deeper and deeper into the world of big data, analysis has fast become an integral part of operations and it’s helping to create a more healthy balance between the two mindsets.

Big data analysis can be used to determine which risks are worth taking (the growth mindset) and which are statistically more likely to result in failure (the fixed mindset). It can’t be denied that a growth mindset is best for development, but a fixed mindset does have its place, too.

Developing a growth mindset

Our beliefs about our own abilities to succeed in certain tasks or situations influences our behaviours in how we proceed. This is something known as ‘self-efficacy’. Developing resilience, determination and perseverance to deal with problems as we attempt to grow is critical.

It’s important to understand that the brain isn’t a fixed organ; it’s capable of growth in much the same way as the muscles in the arms and legs. A fixed mindset doesn’t have to remain ‘fixed’.

Developing a growth mindset begins by gaining an understanding of the brain’s ability to adapt to situations as it learns; the more it knows, the better equipped it is to manage risk scenarios. This is exactly why coaching is such a vital part of business, ensuring that employees are constantly learning, constantly adapting, and constantly finding new ways to improve.


About the author

Stephen Manley is the coaching director at Spitfire.


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