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Developing a growth mindset

Individuals who believe their talents can be developed tend to achieve more than those with a more fixed mindset, because they put more energy into learning. When entire organisations embrace a growth mindset, their employees feel more empowered and committed.

When we harness the power of a growth mentality, studies show that it can be essential for career success. Employees in growth mindset organisations are also 34 percent more likely to feel a strong sense of ownership and commitment to the organisation.

How do lobsters grow

Have you ever considered how lobsters grow? Lobsters are soft animals that live in a rigid shell that protects them. As the lobster grows, its shell becomes too small for it to fit in. So, the lobster goes to search for an area under the rocks on the ocean floor where it feels safe and slowly begins to shed the shell that was preventing its growth and starts to produce a new one. Eventually, the new shell also becomes too small, so the lobster goes back to repeating the same process again. During this process, the new shell, which started growing as the old one was shed, is still soft and provides limited protection, leaving the lobster vulnerable and at risk – however without taking the risk, it wouldn’t be able to grow.

A growth mindset is a continuous belief that improvement is possible and that failures are opportunities to learn. It is the understanding that abilities can be developed as those with a growth mindset believe that they can achieve more through putting in the time and effort. In contrast, a fixed mindset is one that assumes that you either “have it or you don’t” when it comes to abilities and talents.

People often confuse a growth mindset with being flexible or open-minded or with having a positive outlook, however it is not something we simply have – it needs to be developed. During its development it is critical to reward not just the results and efforts, but also the learning and progress. Organisations that promote growth mindsets, encourage appropriate risk taking, acknowledging that some risks simply won’t work out. They reward learning, even if a project doesn’t meet its original goals and support collaboration rather than competition between employees and teams. Within these organisations, growth mindset values are reinforced with specific policies, with development and advancement opportunities provided to support individual growth.

Mindset is personal

Since a growth mindset is a frame of mind held inside one person’s brain and businesses can’t develop their own growth mindset, it is the role of the leader to help people adopt a growth mindset by fostering a culture around specific habits and practices that support it. This culture that fosters a growth mindset is a culture in which all employees are seen as having potential, are encouraged to develop, and are acknowledged and rewarded for improvement.

While the Covid-19 crisis presented a variety of new challenges, it also created new opportunities for leaders to cultivate a growth mindset. With the right mindset, leaders can make the best of these difficult times and seize the opportunity to improve both themselves and their teams. At Acumen, we pride ourselves in offering development that gives managers practical tools to help solve real-life challenges. We offer an extensive menu of courses, workshops and coaching programmes, ranging from communication skills through to executive leadership development. In most cases, we design the interventions specifically for each client, but we also offer a wide range of off-the-shelf programmes for those who prefer this approach. For more information about our programmes please contact Simon at


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