How to Use Growth Mindset So Progress and Results Can Coexist

NLI Growth Mindset master class

Authored by

NLI Staff

Across all of our industry research into growth mindset, one question keeps popping up for leaders: If we’re so focused on growth, can we still focus on results?

We’ve heard the concern voiced in a number of different ways in discussions with organizations putting growth mindset to use, which we’ve featured in our latest white paper, “Impact Report: Growth Mindset Supports Organizations Through Disruption.” The paper showcases how firms make growth mindset come to life and drive lasting change.

In short, the answer is yes.

How to measure progress and results

We define growth mindset as the belief that skills can be improved with persistent effort; they are not set in stone, or fixed. A Growth Mindset Culture is one where most, if not all, employees demonstrate that attitude in their shared everyday habits. They embrace failure. They take risks. They learn to get better.

Fortunately, growth mindset makes room for an emphasis on learning and checking progress over time, because it’s not about comparing two different employees or teams to one another; it’s about comparing one employee or team to themselves.

One way to do all that and still ensure you’re moving in the right direction is to perform a bit of mental contrasting. The technique involves holding in your mind’s eye the memories of the past or the vision of the desired future, and contrasting them with the present reality.

When leaders contrast where they are to where they were, or where they’d like to go, they can evaluate the fruits of their growth mindset. They can ask themselves questions such as, How much have we grown? Are we growing in the right ways? What else still needs attention?

In fact, it’s crucial that leaders encourage their teams to focus on results and learnings, since growth requires two endpoints. A team may never hit certain ideals, but by measuring achievement against specific objectives, leaders can know the growth mindset is working.

In other words, growth mindset isn’t important just for its own sake. At some point, everyone still needs to stop and see how far they’ve come.

This article is the tenth 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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