We Talked to 20 Orgs About Growth Mindset — Here Are Our 7 Biggest Findings

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Authored by

NLI Staff
In-depth interviews with organizations about growth mindset revealed a fascinating collection of goals, use cases, obstacles, and outcomes.

You can learn a lot about someone just by sitting down and asking them questions. The same goes for multi-billion-dollar organizations.

For a period of several months, the NeuroLeadership Institute conducted in-depth interviews with both public and private corporations and universities — 20 organizations in total. Our goal: learn how these orgs are making growth mindset work for them.

Our data produced seven big findings, which we’ve summarized below.

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1. Organizations personalize the meaning of growth mindset

HR practitioners work with leadership to create and instill the right understanding of growth mindset in their teams. Based on our research, the most common interpretations of growth mindset included development, empowerment, and openness. However, personalization can also sometimes lead to myths that growth mindset is all about productivity and profits.

2. Digital transformation is the leading business case for growth mindset

There were six big reasons organizations made the effort to embed growth mindset across their cultures, including business improvement, reinvention, and performance management. But the biggest by far was digital transformation: Orgs said growth mindset was key to adapting to an unknown technological future.

3. Support from top leadership is critical for success

NLI has found time and again that culture change starts at the top. Leaders must establish the right priorities and build the right habits to get their teams onboard. Growth mindset works the same way. In our sample, 69% of orgs used top leaders to communicate, teach, and role model growth mindset throughout the company.

4. Habits make growth mindset stick

Leaders can’t expect to instill a growth mindset in employees just by making it a priority. They also need to enable and encourage people to build the right behaviors. Many of the orgs in our sample did this through shared language around growth mindset, and others still developed activities, events, and reminders.

5. Growth mindset can pervade multiple talent processes

Organizations in our sample showed that growth mindset can find its way into just about every process and system leaders can dream up: hiring, talent development, performance management, talent reviews, and more. In fact, 55% of orgs embed growth mindset in at least three processes.

6. Employee engagement is the top metric for growth mindset initiatives

Our research shows organizations measure their success in growth mindset efforts most often through engagement surveys. At one information technology company, a recent internal survey showed that 82% of managers regularly demonstrate growth mindset behaviors, and 92% of employees agree that learning is part of the job.

7. Similar challenges keep cropping up

Both leaders and employees feel painfully self-aware in confronting their fixed mindsets. In addition, they may misinterpret the definition of growth mindset and lack the organizational support to sustain their efforts. Here leaders suggest creating clarity for novices about growth mindset, communicating the reasons for making it a priority, and showing how to build the right systems to measure, track, and improve behaviors.

This article is the second installment in NLI’s series, Growth Mindset: The Master Class, a 12-week campaign to help leaders see how the world’s largest organizations are putting growth mindset to use.

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