How Do You Create and Nurture a Growth Mindset?

G. Rabalais - November 16, 2021

A recent publication from the Growth Institute brings into focus some practical strategies for developing a growth mindset. This blog post is adapted from that article.

Do you believe that having a growth mindset is beneficial in leading yourself, leading a team, or leading an organization? If so, do you know how to develop a growth mindset for yourself as a leader? Recall thatthe key difference between a growth mindset and a fixed mindset is the belief that you can learn new things because you have the ability and talent to do so, which translates into a willingness to exert the effort required to get it done. The challenges of the work environmentare therefore not seen as obstacles (as they often are with a fixed mindset), but rather setbacks provide opportunities to learn and developnew skillswith a growth mindset.

Just how do you go about creating and nurturing a growth mindset?This article suggests six habits that can help: 

  1. Embrace Change.The COVID-19 pandemic of the past 18 months has served as a dramatic example of the rapidly changing environment we now live in. For leaders who are unable to pivot and accept that change is an ongoingpart of our world, success will be difficult.Stick to your core values butapproach every day with the understanding that challenges represent an opportunity to embrace change and to dobetter going forward. Just consider how the pandemic accelerated the use of virtual, synchronous meetings and the flexibility to work from home while still getting the job done. 
  1. Become Self-Aware. Self-awareness is the foundation of the four components of emotional intelligence and is a skill that can be developed. Being more self-aware helps you to know yourself so that you can manage your emotions in changing environments. As change forces new thinking and sometimes rapid changes in approaches to accomplishing work, self-awareness facilitates our decision-making. Just imagine if UofL had no experience or capacity for online teaching prior to the onset of the pandemic—we could not have pivoted so quickly to continue our core mission of educating studentsbutbeing aware of our abilities helped us adapt to the disruptions instead.  

  1. Disrupt Yourself.Create and nurture a growth mindset by being willing to ask disruptive questions. This practice can make you and your team more ready for change. Ask yourself: 

    • What habits, practices, and routines in your life and at work need to be shaken up a bit? 
    • Are you doing things that used to succeed but no longer work as well, if at all? 
    • Are you spending time on unproductive activities that could be better invested elsewhere? 

This process of self-disruption can help you to escape the trappings of a fixed mindset, thereby opening new ways for you and your team to see challenges as opportunities rather than obstacles. 

  1. Recognize and Reward the Value of Learning in Failure. Since some aspects of failure in our personal and work lives are inevitable, we must develop the mindset to learn from our mistakes, which advances our personal and team growth. As the leader, create the safety for your team to take some risks, allowing failure to be recognized as a learning tool. This will encourage your team to engage in their work with a growth mindset and perhaps discover a new, better way to accomplish your goals.

  1. Focus on the Process as an Ongoing Project. The goal here is to achieve continued marginal improvements in how you and your team execute the work that you do, whether that work is teaching trainees, conducting research, applying for grants, writing manuscripts, improving patient access, reducing length of stay, etc. By attending to the process and not just the result, you will naturally build a questioning approach that is characteristic of a growth mindset. 

  1. Practice Perseverance. The fruits of a growth mindset require time to develop, so be patient and persevere. By seeing obstacles and failure as opportunities to learn, we push through and persist as we drive toward our personal and team goals.Just imagine how nurturing a growth mindset for you and your team can make UofL a Great Place to Work, Learn and Invest.