Could a fixed mindset be holding you back in business?

by Karen Kissane. ICF certified Business Coach

I have just finished reading the book “Mindset” by Stanford Psychologist Carol Dweck.

Dweck puts forward a simple but powerful idea; how our mindset affects our potential and how in business, mindset can influence motivation and productivity.

What is mindset? The dictionary definition of mindset is “the established set of attitudes held by someone.” It encompasses the beliefs we hold about ourselves relating to our personality, performance, ability and intelligence. According to Dweck, we can differentiate fixed and growth mindsets across a number of parameters that look at how we deal with challenges and how easily we give up.

Those with a fixed mindset have the belief that their abilities are static and predetermined at birth. That talent leads to success without effort. They are often highly sensitive to being wrong and vulnerable to criticism.

However, people with a growth mindset believe their skills and qualities can be cultivated through effort and perseverance. That intelligence can develop, and that effort leads to success. They have an eagerness to learn and seek out collaboration to achieve this without feeling threatened by the input others.

Are leaders born a leader, or do they develop into a leader?

This question can be answered in part by looking at how great leaders approach success and failure. Leaders who believe that learning from failure and effort leads to achievement are adopting a ‘growth mindset’ approach.

This is evident in leaders who lead rather than manage, who create a culture of progressive development which propels their company forward. Great leaders focus on others as well as themselves. A true leader will help others surpass their own successes.

Where managers adopt a fixed approach, the consequence is a demotivation of their teams, stifled creativity and all too often the advocation of a blame culture which has a negative impact on innovation and growth. Dweck is right when she says a company that cannot self correct, cannot survive.

How growth mindset leadership can help teams to reach their potential.

Good leaders demonstrate a growth mindset by encouraging their teams to fine tune problem solving skills, to take risks where there is a clear benefit and to learn from their mistakes in order to develop a deeper understanding of what is required. This fosters creativity, progression and a cohesive working unit. When judgement and blame is taken away, teams are more able to take on challenging tasks without the worry of failure or criticism.

Learning to think differently can be awkward and uncomfortable. Increasingly so, business leaders are encouraged to coach their direct reports and to do this, leaders must develop a positive or growth mindset—a mindset that looks for the potential in others. A growth mindset can be developed through coaching. Many believe that coaching is the leadership style of the future.


To find out how developing a growth mindset through coaching can benefit your organisation, get in touch to find out more; info@karenkissanecoaching.com or call 07917 773799.

www.karenkissanecoaching.com