6 Traits of a Growth-Minded Leader

When Carol Dweck’s team studied the differences between companies and the predominant mindset of that business’s leadership, the results were nearly unanimous. A Harvard Business Review article summarizes them nicely: 

“…Employees at companies with a fixed mindset often said that just a small handful of ‘star’ workers were highly valued. The employees who reported this were less committed than employees at growth-mindset companies and didn’t think the company had their back. They worried about failing and so pursued fewer innovative projects. They regularly kept secrets, cut corners, and cheated to try to get ahead.”

On the other hand, “Supervisors in growth-mindset companies expressed significantly more positive views about their employees than supervisors in fixed-mindset companies, rating them as more innovative, collaborative, and committed to learning and growing. They were more likely to say that their employees had management potential.”

Long-term business success requires a different approach to leadership than a few decades ago. People want their work to be fulfilling, they want to feel invested in the success of the company, and they want to know that their managers, supervisors, and executives care about them as more than faceless employees willing to sacrifice their happiness for the good of a company that doesn’t reward them for their efforts. They want leaders with a growth mindset.

So, what do those leaders look like? What traits should you cultivate to reap the benefits of a growth-minded workplace culture? Let’s dive in!

They Know Intelligence and Talent Are Dynamic, Not Static

Growth-minded leaders understand that intelligence and talent are not fixed attributes but can be developed over time, which shifts their focus from proving themselves to improving themselves. They invest in continuous learning and skill development because they see the value in effort and are willing to work to hone their abilities. In turn, growth-minded leaders create an environment where challenges are no longer evidence of limitations but opportunities to innovate and adapt.

They Have an Unshakeable Persistence

When they encounter a setback, leaders with a growth mindset are unstoppable. They believe in the value of effort and the opportunities that arise from failure because, in their perspective, those failures are a growing pain on the path to success. Compare that to a leader with a fixed mindset– They’ll often shrink away from situations that require them to put in any effort because the thought of failing is too much to bear.

This steadfast sense of resilience empowers growth-minded leaders and their employees to keep going when others would have given up because they understand that true success results from sustained effort, not burying their heads in the sand and insisting, “It’s just not meant to be!”

They Believe There’s Always Room for Improvement

There’s no such thing as “resting on their laurels” for the growth-minded leader. Instead, they’re constantly seeking to innovate and improve their operations. Whether those efforts result in opportunity or failure doesn’t matter. They know that regardless of the outcome, they’ve learned something that will help them improve their business or themselves. Growth-minded leaders are never happy to just settle for the status quo, a trait that gives their business the edge in the race to stay relevant and competitive.

They Believe That Failure Is an Opportunity

A hallmark of a fixed mindset is that when they see failure in themselves or those around them, it comes with a stigma they are desperate to avoid. So, they create a culture where it’s easier to blame others, lie, and avoid adversity than admit something didn’t work. 

Compare that to a growth-minded leader who encourages risk-taking and the inevitable failure that comes along with it. When their company faces a challenge, you’ll notice that they have an effusive enthusiasm about the chance to push boundaries and explore new, creative solutions, even when facing situations that would paralyze the fixed-mindest leader. They approach these so-called “problems” eager to think outside the box, and they want to encourage their employees to get in on the action, becoming more resilient in the process. 

They Want to See Others Succeed

One of the hallmarks of the greatest leaders is their sincere desire to see people around them succeed, a reflection of their belief that every individual is full of untapped potential. That’s why growth-minded leaders are happy to invest time and resources in empowering their employees through training programs, mentorships, cross-departmental training, and well-earned promotions. 

If you ask a growth-minded leader about what they value, they’ll almost certainly mention that they strive to foster a supportive environment that values collaboration and celebration. They genuinely want their teams to know their value, which results in employees who are motivated to stay engaged in the collective success of the business and everyone within it.

They Let Everyone Contribute to the Conversation

Finally, growth-minded leaders recognize that great ideas can come from any level of the organization and work hard to cultivate a workplace where everyone feels encouraged to speak up. They realize that decision-making can’t be done in a vacuum, influenced only by their experiences and beliefs, so they actively seek out the diverse perspectives of every employee within the organization. 

This willingness to break down the barriers between leaders and their teams creates a culture built on communication, allowing leaders to demonstrate a certain vulnerability. Leaders don’t always have the right answers, but what makes them great is the willingness to learn from people around them.

Final Thoughts

Becoming a growth-minded leader isn’t an easy process, especially if you’ve spent your life believing that failure is a reflection of your intelligence, abilities, potential, or lack of effort. If you’re willing to shed that mentality, it can be incredibly liberating. You’re no longer carrying the weight of failure but are instead using it as a launch pad for your next strategic solution, knowing that you’re now a little bit smarter and a whole lot closer to success. 

Working with a business coach will catalyze your transition from a fixed to a growth mindset, helping you see yourself as a leader with infinite potential. No matter where you are as a business leader, we provide the structure and skills necessary for greatness. We meet you where you are and help you get where you want to be.

Contact Lori Moen at Catalyst Group ECR, and let’s get started today!

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