In a recent pop up survey on NeuroLeadership.com, we asked visitors one question: What does it mean for a person to have a “growth mindset”? From the 208 responses we received, we learned that, given a few options featuring the most common meanings attached to growth mindset, the vast majority of participants identified the right one:
- 89% of survey participants correctly identify growth mindset as the belief that a person’s abilities can be improved (correct)
- 9% think that having a growth mindset means to be positive and optimistic (incorrect)
- Only 1.4% think that it relates to striving for business growth (incorrect), and
- 0.5% don’t know what it means (unfortunate)
These results basically reflect the findings from our recent industry research on growth mindset. As HR and talent teams work hard on clarifying and communicating the correct definition throughout the organization, they mostly succeed. Once in a while, though, they may encounter individuals or teams that hang on to misinformed and false ideas of growth mindset. We recently explored this trend in an article called “5 Mistakes Companies Make About Growth Mindsets” for the Harvard Business Review. Simply put, don’t mistake growth mindset for endless optimism.
We at the NeuroLeadership Institute define growth mindset as the belief that skills and abilities can be improved, and that developing our skills and abilities is the purpose of the work we do. But we have also learned something else in our research: people in organizations attach various, personalized interpretations to the idea of growth mindset — something we highlighted in our recent webinar Growth Mindset 101.
Getting the idea of growth mindset right matters. This powerful concept will be increasingly important for individuals and organizations who need to adapt to the ongoing changes posed by digital disruption. Given the many interpretations of growth mindset that are out there, clarifying what it means — and what it doesn’t mean — is a crucial step in creating a growth mindset culture.
What really makes a difference is when organizations are able to weave the concept of growth mindset deep into their people’s everyday behaviors and their organizational processes. In order to do that, organizations first need to be clear on what growth mindset means to them.
Send your thoughts, feedback, and criticism to Andrea Derler, NLI’s director of industry research.