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Why You Need a Culture of Growth

Culture of Growth

A SECRET to lifelong success is to always be in learning mode, personally and organizationally. In Cultures of Growth, Mary Murphy contrasts a Culture of Growth with its growth mindset and the fixed mindset of a Culture of Genius. These mindsets exist on a continuum. We don’t just have one or the other. We are not static. We frequently shift from one to the other depending on what we are experiencing.

Instead of questioning if a person has a fixed or a growth mindset, the question we should ask is: “When are you in a fixed mindset, and when are you in a growth mindset?”

In aiming to evaluate individuals’ mindset set points, organizations often end up putting an inordinate amount of focus on what employees bring to the table and not enough on how that table is constructed.

Too often, we label people as one or the other without considering the context and the culture that creates and maintains a particular mindset. “The culture surrounding us is one of the biggest influences on our beliefs, motivations, and behavior. This mindset culture exists at the group and organizational level.” Critical to our job as leaders is the understanding that “Mindset culture is so powerful that it can actually block an individual’s growth mindset.

A Culture of Growth encourages confidence and intrinsic motivation, process orientation, a tolerance for risk, and resilience.

A Culture of Genius is characterized by know-it-alls, status, talent, competition, task orientation, limited potential and opportunities, and a lack of trust.

Culture Of Growth

Cultures of Growth are what we think of when we talk about learning organizations; every day is a treasure hunt, with employees searching for novel ideas to improve products and processes. Cultures of Genius are primarily leaning organizations, which lean on the status quo or how things were done in the past to direct their current efforts.

A fixed mindset is not all bad. A fixed mindset can be useful in some situations, but it should be tempered with the humility to see other perspectives. A chronically fixed mindset will restrict our ability to see the possibilities in ourselves and others.

Events can trigger fixed mindsets. The job of leaders is to minimize that and teach people to reframe events to encourage a growth mindset. It’s not important to have all of the answers but to encourage others to find the answers.

Murphy suggests that the situation and the culture we are in often plays a “stronger role in shaping our behavior than our character does.” Sadly, this is true. But it does reflect a lack of character. Character compels us to do what we know is right in spite of our situation and what those around us may allow. That said, we should ensure that the culture we are responsible for does not place people in a situation that encourages them to compromise. Poorly thought-out performance goals and incentives can do just that.

Murphy identifies four areas that are prone to placing us into a fixed mindset that we should be aware of: evaluative situations, high-effort situations, critical feedback, and seeing the success of others.

When we anticipate a situation where we are being evaluated by others, we naturally tend to go on the defensive. We become hyper-focused on defending our performance rather than improving our thinking and behavior. Think contribution and not competition.

High-effort situations require that we apply more effort, time, and attention than we have in the past. In a fixed mindset, we negatively correlate our abilities with the effort required to succeed. “If I have to work this hard, then I must not have what it takes to see it through.” A growth mindset reframes the situation with the belief that this is a challenge that can push us to learn and discover the path to reach our goals.

Murphy cautions, “A growth mindset isn’t just about putting in sheer effort; it’s far more discerning than that, and it’s also far more expansive. When we’re in our growth mindset, we find ways to invite challenge in and to play with the struggle it brings. We focus on possibilities, try new strategies, and experiment. And we do it in a conscious, thoughtful way.”

Like evaluative situations, when it comes to critical feedback, most of us initially react with a fixed mindset. We tend to take it personally, especially if it is vague and delivered in a judgmental manner. That’s when we need to ask ourselves, “Do I want to be better, or feel better?”

When we’re in our growth mindset, our learning and development are priorities, so we are constantly attending to where we are recalibrating our perceptions and expectations, fine-tuning our self-awareness in these areas. We’re able to engage in a more subtle discernment process when faced with critical feedback than when we’re in our fixed mindset. When we do receive feedback that doesn’t comport with where we believe we are, we are better equipped to evaluate its usefulness.

When people are coming from their own fixed mindset, their feedback is not about growth, but is more designed to make themselves feel better about their own issues. Even then, you can find hidden gems to help you better understand the situation you find yourself in.

Jealousy will put us in a fixed mindset. Feeling threatened, we begin to internalize reasons why we can’t do what they did or assume that they are just better than we are. Success, we think, is outside of our control. In this state, we fail to see what we need to do to achieve the success we seek.

A Culture of Growth may not change us overnight, but it will provide a perspective that allows us to see better the possibilities for other ways of being and functioning. An environment where growth is prioritized shapes how we make sense of the world around us and how we can reach our potential within it.

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Posted by Michael McKinney at 01:41 PM
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