By HEIDI GRANT, CHRISTINE COX & DAVID ROCK
Mindsets—ways of thinking about the goals we pursue in our professional and personal lives—determine how we interpret our successes and failures. They influence how we understand our own experiences in the workplace, and determine the nature of our emotional, cognitive, behavioral, and neural responses to those experiences. In this paper, we will describe how not only individuals, but whole organizations, can have fixed or growth mindsets—highlighting those research findings from more than 20 years of study that best capture the powerful impact of mindsets on performance, learning and engagement, self-regulation, neural processing, resilience, and leadership. We discuss two important ways that organizations can promote a growth mindset: first, by valuing, encouraging, and rewarding personal as well as organizational growth (e.g., “How am I doing now compared to how I was doing before?”) over and above other comparisons (e.g., “How am I doing compared to my teammate or competitor?”). This shifts the focus from “being good” to “getting better,” from fixed ability and potential judgment to growth and improvement. This shift is related to the second way in which organizations can promote a growth mindset: by recognizing that comparisons create mindsets and mindsets change performance. When organizations promote inter-individual comparisons (e.g., me vs. my teammate), they may also be promoting a fixed mindset—a focus on fixed ability, which in some instances can result in reduced performance. However, when organizations promote intra-individual comparisons (e.g., me now vs. me then), they are promoting a growth mindset—a focus on learning, growth, and improvement, which has been shown to result in increased performance. Finally, we conclude the paper by suggesting several ways that organizations can capitalize on this research and implement practices that promote a growth mindset and enhance performance.
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