Following my previous two blog posts on Mindset, this week I’d like to share some tips about how leaders can create a growth mindset culture within their teams.
There are a number of things a leader can do to encourage a Growth Mindset culture within the team:
Coaching is my number one tip for a reason – it is the most effective tool any leader has for helping to bring about any type of behavioural or mindset change. The benefits of coaching are widely documented but, when it comes to encouraging a Growth Mindset, coaching is the arena in which you can implement all of the other tips I’ve highlighted below; rather than ‘telling’, you can employ coaching to encourage personal responsibility around goal setting and accountability. (For more tips on coaching, please see ‘Most Effective Sales Team Coaching Tips‘)
2. Praise effort but only if learning and improvement have taken place
Carol Dweck’s research on Mindset uncovered the importance of praising effort rather than results in order to nurture and encourage a Growth Mindset, but with one important caveat – Effort should only be praised if learning and improvement have taken place. Continuing to praise effort when no real improvement has been made will never drive performance improvement and will actually make it very difficult for you as the leader when it comes time to address this lack of progress.
3. Separate sales performance from non-sales performance
For many sales people, their mindset and behaviours surrounding sales can be very different to those relating to other areas of their performance. For example, a very successful seller may lack the interpersonal skills required to make them an effective member of both the team and the organisation. It can therefore be helpful for the leader to separate out the mindset associated with selling, versus that which they apply to other areas of their performance.
4. Hold people to account
Accountability doesn’t come easily to those with Fixed Mindsets (unless it’s accountability for successes) and that’s because those with Fixed Mindsets see failure as something to be avoided at all costs. Instead of taking ownership and learning from their mistakes, those with a Fixed Mindset tend to look to lay blame on other people or circumstances. In order to encourage the development of a Growth Mindset, the leader must hold their team to account and challenge those ‘excuses/reasons’ that are offered up for mistakes or failures.
5. Normalise failure
In order to make it easier for those with a Fixed Mindset to take accountability for their actions, the leader must create a culture in which failure is accepted and normalised. Having spent probably all of their lives avoiding failure, you need to nurture an environment in which those with a Fixed Mindset see that failure is OK and that much can be learnt from it.
6. Set goals
Change can difficult for those with a Fixed Mindset, especially when they are uncertain whether the required outcome can be easily achieved. Setting goals, with clear time-bound actions, helps the individual to see how they can get from one state to another, whilst also providing the leader with a structure that can be used to drive accountability to those actions.
7. Help them see their potential
This can be achieved through the coaching process but, as a leader, you need to be aware that those with a Fixed Mindset will tend to set their limits in line with their natural ability. In other words, they don’t push themselves beyond the limits of their natural ability, unless they are forced to. Creating a realisation that they are capable of more is the first step. Using goals, as laid out above, enables you to put that into action with them.
8. Encourage best practice sharing
When you share best practice within your team, you’re showing everybody what’s possible. For those with a Fixed Mindset, seeing others move beyond the bounds of their usual limitations can help them to start thinking beyond their own limitations. It also creates a culture in which excellence is encouraged, celebrated and expected.