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How CEOs Can Create A “Growth Mindset” Culture

How CEOs Can Create a “Growth Mindset” Culture

Dr. Carol Dweck coined the term “Growth Mindset” to describe people that look for challenges in order to grow. In today’s fast moving and technology rich environment, CEOs need to be able to create an organizational culture that identifies challenges and opportunities in order to keep their organizations growing. The CEO of an organization casts a “Shadow of the Leader” that influences the rest of the executive team. In turn, that shadow affects everyone in the organization. The shadow they cast impacts the values, beliefs, attitudes, and behaviors of people in the organization, thus creating an organizational culture. This culture can either be strong and innovative or weak and outdated, depending on the shadow the CEO has cast.

Strong and innovative cultures promote employee engagement, which can positively impact operating income by up to 20% and increase earnings growth by up to 28% (Gallup 2016). Employee engagement and a growth mindset go hand-in-hand in today’s business environment. You can’t sustain engagement or growth without continually tending to the culture of the organization.

Here are 7 tips to develop a cultural growth mindset:

  1. Seek employee input for change. Employees are on the front lines interacting with customers. Organizations that allow employees to contribute ideas for product innovation and to enhance the customer experience see substantial benefits. “More than 70 percent of senior executives interviewed in a survey say thatinnovation will be at least one of the top three drivers of growth” (McKinsey).
  2. Replace the word “failed” with the word “learned.” Many organizations have stopped doing formal performance reviews, but Millennials like having their performance reviewed (and not just in the traditional once a year format). Marshall Goldsmith, author of Best Selling book “What Got You Here Won’t Get You There,” recommended using “Feedforward” (instead of feedback) to focus on what could be done better in the future instead of what went wrong in the past. Giving “Feedforward” after each project can help to foster a positive growth minded culture.
  3. Recognize accomplishments. Many organizations already have a formal recognition system in place. Consider going “old school” and simply writing a hand-written note to people you catch doing a good job. The key is to be specific with the recognition, so they know exactly what they did well.
  4. Reward effort. Not everyone gets recognition for their hard work. Often, it is the effort of many that allow the one to hit or exceed goals. Look for those in the organization that put in a lot of effort and recognize them publicly.
  5. Develop your team. Many organizations have realized the value of developing their people. This is one of the top motivating factors for the millennial generation. Offering career training and development would keep 86% of millennials from leaving their current positions (Bridge 2018).
  6. Use the phrase “not yet.” In a culture where the growth mindset is flourishing, “no” is replaced with “not yet.” Just because an employee, team or organization has not accomplished something before does not mean it can’t. When people have a “not yet” mindset, they are more willing to try new things.
  7. Create new goals regularly to stay stimulated and fresh. Every team should have short, medium, and long-term goals. When they are completed celebrate and set new ones so that the mindset of “always be growing” is alive and strong in the organizational culture.

When a CEO takes the time to tend to the culture of the organization in a way that promotes a growth mindset, continued growth is sustainable!

Ready to start developing your own growth mindset? Join us for an Executive Leadership Symposium with Marshall Goldsmith on September 14.

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