Leading with a Growth Mindset

“Is there anything that you do to keep feeling challenged? What do you do to grow?”

These were two questions recently asked of me by one of our new employees at Republic Bank. I could tell that there was genuine curiosity in the inquiry. From her point of view, I had already surmounted many of the challenges to be overcome in a career trajectory and therefore, it was likely that growth was not a major priority for me. But nothing can be further from the truth. This is because growth is not a fixed destination, it’s an ongoing journey. Whether you’re an entry level employee, a mid-tier professional or an executive, there is always room to learn something new or to do something differently. Growth isn’t the achievement of a goal, it’s a mindset.

Stanford University psychology professor and author of the book, Mindset: The New Psychology of Success, Dr. Carol Dweck, defines a person as having a growth mindset if they believe that “their talents can be developed through hard work, good strategies and input from others.” If you have a growth mindset, you know that you might not always be the best immediately, but you’ll have a voracious appetite to learn and the confidence to know that you can improve in every area. Adopting this way of thinking is not only limited to individuals, entire organisations can also incorporate a growth mindset as part of their corporate culture. In this setting, cross-organisational collaboration is encouraged and just as with individuals, organisational learning and a willingness to experiment and innovate is rewarded.

Shifting to a growth mindset leads to tremendous returns. Weaknesses are no longer things to be feared but instead become areas that can be strengthened. Criticisms and disappointments aren’t fixed setbacks, but are transformed opportunities to re-calibrate and re-iterate on the way to success. When we can convert the negative concepts that once constrained us into platforms for positive change, our potential is boundless.

In my leadership capacity, I am consistently challenged to foster growth in three main ways, namely the growth of the organisation, of my team and in myself.

1. Organisational Growth
The strategic leadership of an organisation requires a unique combination of insight and foresight, and adopting a growth mindset within your corporate culture greatly assists with both facets of strategy development. Insight provides an in-depth understanding of your company’s strengths and weaknesses, and with a growth mindset the latter can be buttressed. Conversely, foresight is externally-focused and requires that the company stay on top of market changes. Here, an organisation with a growth mindset is always seeking knowledge for new opportunities such as customer preferences or cutting-edge developments.

Recognising these advantages, we at the Republic have been working to improve and develop our growth mindset. Through active research, we’re continuously working to better understand the needs of our customers. We’re making a concerted effort to leverage the diversity that exists in our workforce and ensuring that conversations aren’t just taking place from the top down but also laterally and from the bottom-up. Interns can learn from managers but managers can learn from interns as well. Silos are being dismantled across teams and on the individual employee level, opportunities for cross-training are being increased. A systemic approach to innovation is being fostered with rewards and recognition incentives to match. As a company, we’re underscoring the importance of listening, learning and improving.

2. Team Growth
As a leader, I strongly believe that the growth of the people on my team should always be a central priority. I have great confidence in my team’s capabilities to rise to a challenge. As such, I try to encourage their growth by not limiting them. In fact, I actively encourage them to step out of their comfort zones and into different areas to learn new skills. This approach leads to the development of an expanded pool of well-rounded employees and leaders, who are versed in various aspects of the company.

Trusting your team to take appropriate risks is equally as important. Give them the autonomy to explore, experiment and innovate. Not only will they continue to grow, but as the leader of the team you learn and grow as well, through the discovery of new approaches.

3. Personal Growth
There are many ways I continue to work on my personal growth. Just as I ask my team to step out of their comfort zones, I ask the same of myself. To illustrate, if there are facets of the organisation I am not as familiar with, I switch my focus to enhance my understanding. For areas that are familiar, it is very easy to rely on precedent or tradition, that is, I have always done it this way so this is how I will continue to do it. However, even in this regard, I challenge myself by exploring how to improve the relevance and effectiveness of the ‘traditional’ way of doing things. Additionally, I read as much as I can about wide breadth of subjects, and enjoy conversing with and listening to experts across all spheres, absorbing whatever I can. Once you develop a growth mindset, knowledge fuels you.

Practising a growth mindset is not always easy but it is immensely rewarding. It significantly increases the resilience, prosperity and success of your organization, your team and you as an individual. Taking into account these undeniable benefits, perhaps I should ask of you – What are you doing to challenge yourself?

What are you doing right now to grow?

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