Use this toolkit to navigate your professional relationships with a growth mindset approach.

At Positive Change Guru we’re often invited to speak to businesses about how they can develop a growth mindset culture. During these sessions one question is always raised without fail, these top ten tips are dedicated to everyone who has ever asked, “But how can you effectively practice a growth mindset when your manager has a fixed mindset approach?”

  1. Be strategic. In many organizations, it’s often the case that people are promoted to management positions without any training on how to develop effective leadership and management techniques. It may be the case that your manager knows little about growth mindset and the benefits that it can have for not only themselves, but also the team and organizational performance but how do you enlighten them without appearing critical? Be strategic and think about what really ignites your manager’s passions, are they a sports fan, fanatical about racing cars or a science junky? Look for examples of a growth mindset approach that will resonate with them. Maybe they’re a David Beckham fan? Tell them how his family describes how he practiced for thousands of hours as a child, kicking the ball at a goal painted on a wall and as his skills improved he would move his striking position further and further away from the goal. Perhaps your manager is a basketball fan? Weave the words of Michael Jordan’s coach into the conversation and explain how he always describes Jordan as not the most talented player on the team but what did make him stand out from the crowd was his dedication, when the rest of the team had finished practicing for the day, Jordan would stay behind and persevere with practice for hours after his team mates had left.
  2. Talk about growth mindset culture in other organizations. Use conversations about the success of other organizations as an opportunity to include snippets of information on the growth mindset approach and how these organizations have used a growth mindset to their competitive advantage. Talk about companies like Google and Quest and the programs they implement to encourage a growth mindset.
  3. Link a growth mindset to the bottom line. You’re manager tells you, “this growth mindset fad is fine but it’s the bottom line that counts.” Tell your manager how astute they are and then point out that Carol Dweck, the Stanford professor responsible for the international bestseller ‘Mindset: the new psychology of Success’, has addressed this very question, Dweck explains that whenever we apply a growth mindset approach outcomes undoubtedly matter. If effort is unproductive we need to examine how we can more deeply engage in the process perhaps by seeking help from others, trying new strategies or capitalizing on setbacks to propel us forwards. Dweck recommends paying equal attention to learning and progress, as well as rewarding effort, which people often more readily associate with encouraging a growth mindset. As Dweck says, growth mindset is indeed linked to the bottom line.
  4. Explain mindset is a spectrum and discuss your own fixed mindset triggers. You’re manager explains “I’ve always had a 100% growth mindset, that’s why I’m so successful.” The next time growth mindset comes up in conversation, tell your manager that you’ve recently read an interesting article on false growth mindset. Without reminding your manager abut their claim to possess a 100% growth mindset, explain how mindset is a spectrum and although we might make a conscious effort to adopt a growth mindset approach, there will always be certain triggers, that can elicit a fixed mindset approach. Explain how you monitor your own thoughts to try and capture what triggers a fixed mindset for you at work and mention what you’ve done to successfully overcome your fixed mindset triggers.
  5. Describe how a growth mindset has contributed to team success. Take a growth mindset approach to the situation and focus on highlighting all the effective ways in which your team tackles challenges with a growth mindset. Whenever you’re talking to your manager about the great work your team has been doing, make sure that you frame your comments to include the positive effects a growth mindset approach has had on motivation, perseverance and positive results in your team.
  6. Inspire your team to work across the organization, sharing their skills and expertise for organizational success. Encourage your team to promote the benefits of a growth mindset approach when working with others, when there are more workers enthusiastically applying a growth mindset to the organization’s vision and goals it becomes harder for those with a fixed mindset approach towards their work to ignore the message.
  7. Encourage others to share growth mindset strategies and success stories. Foster wider growth mindset habits within the organization by encouraging other teams to swap growth mindset strategies, ideas, information and success stories. Make sure that your manager is kept in the loop of this growth mindset exercise.
  8. Emphasize perseverance. When your manager compliments you on the great results and outcomes that your team has achieved make sure you highlight the effort, hard work and perseverance that contributed to the team’s fantastic outcomes.
  9. Expose your manager to a growth mindset at every opportunity. Whenever you watch a video, read a great article, or hear of another business that is working towards becoming a growth mindset organization, share the information with your manager and if you have time, summarize the contents to expose them to more and more growth mindset information. When your manager realizes that so many other businesses see the benefits of a growth mindset, they may start to shift their position and approach.
  10. Maintain a growth mindset towards your manager. Finally, it may sound obvious, but maintain a growth mindset towards your fixed mindset manager! Just because they hold a predominantly fixed mindset towards their role it doesn’t mean that this will always be the case. There are plenty of examples of people who once approached their job, their education, their beliefs about intelligence (including Carol Dweck) or their relationships in a fixed mindset way, only to realize that they could improve their approach and their outcomes by adopting a growth mindset.

Image courtesy of Pixabay

Originally published at on July 22, 2016.

Originally published at