Carol Dweck is a Stanford Psychologies who studies human motivation and achievement. At the heart of her thinking is the idea that there are two mindsets – a fixed mindset and a growth mindset. Dweck’s view is that the mindset we adopt fundamentally shapes our lives.
Essentially, the fixed mindset person believes that their capabilities are locked in. People who have this mindset say things such as, “I’m not good at math.” Or, “I dropped the plate because I’m a klutz.” The growth mindset person believes that capabilities are subject to change. They say things such as, “I can get better at math.” Or, “I dropped the plate because I wasn’t paying attention.”
The fixed mindset is deterministic: We perform at a certain level because that’s who we are. It doesn’t allow for learning or improvement. The growth mindset is dynamic: We can perform better because we have the capability to learn, grow and improve.
Importantly, our mindset is subject to change. A person with a fixed mindset can learn to have a growth mindset. And if people with a growth mindset achieve more – because they are driven to learn, grow and improve – then, as leaders, we should want to hire people who have a growth mindset. And also help our people who don’t have such a mindset to adopt one.
By recognizing and reinforcing them not just for getting results but for taking on challenges, developing potential solutions, experimenting, and learning from outcomes – successful or not. Reinforce them for the process that leads to improvement, the behaviors that lead to improvement, not just for getting results. Because if you reinforce them for those behaviors, then those behaviors are likely to endure and keep generating improvements. But if you reinforce them just for results, then those results are achieved and soon forgotten.
If you want a culture of continuous improvement then foster a growth mindset and the behaviors associated with it. Reward them for more than just results.
Make it happen.
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