A few months ago I wrote about Carol Dweck’s idea of a Growth Mindset. In her book, Carol talks about developing the mindset that will help you maximise your potential – either personally or in business. She describes two ways of thinking:
Someone with a fixed mindset has a deterministic approach to life. They believe that talent is innate – either you’ve got it or you haven’t (so too much effort is pointless). They stick with what they know and avoid exposure. This means hiding mistakes, blocking important feedback and feeling threatened by the success of others. They tend to see the world as good and bad, pass and fail, winners and losers.
Someone with a growth mindset, on the other hand, values free will and effort. They have an attitude of curiosity rather than judgment, enjoying challenges and productive feedback as opportunities to learn. They believe that persistent effort combined with insight will yield results, and are inspired by the success of others. They are not afraid of failure and the vulnerability that often accompanies it.
A growth mindset works for me!
I love her thinking on this and I try to embody it in my own life. I enjoy being open to new people and new challenges. A couple of years ago I took up ocean swimming, which has strengthened my will as well as my body. And 12 years ago I co-founded Executive Central, with the purpose of enabling leaders to be the best they can be. That has been a wonderful journey of opportunities, learning, growth and meeting hundreds of inspiring people!
I’ve been reading a book called The Alchemy of Growth, by Baghai et al. (2000). It’s not a new book, but it expresses well the importance of growth in your enterprise. You can find a nice graphic summary at:
Dweck’s work on growth mindsets is important in creating a culture for growth, and Alchemy of Growth gives a strategy for growing your business. Joining the dots backwards on 12 years of Executive Central, I can see that we’ve actually been doing what they advise! But more of that later.
Baghai et al. point out that growth is important, not just from an economic point of view, but also to create and recreate an exciting and energetic company, a company where people want to be.
“Growth’s transformative power is akin to the alchemy of old. Growth unleashes benefits beyond the economic. It revitalizes organizations and invigorates the people in them, creating energy, a sense of purpose, and the glow of being on a winning team.”
Let’s face it, most companies have a limited life span, and we’ve all had conversations that start, “Whatever happened to…. Kodak, Nokia, Blockbuster Video, Borders Bookstore etc. etc.?” So how can we help companies avoid extinction?
Baghai and his McKinsey consultants did a 2.5 year study across 10 industries and 12 countries, to determine what makes companies thrive and survive. Target companies included Coca Cola Amatil, Lendlease and Village Roadshow.
What makes companies thrive and survive?
Baghai and colleagues found that there were three levels of activity that underpinned ongoing growth and longevity. These were: a present focus on building and protecting the core business; a short-term future focus on accelerating emerging businesses or products; and a long-term focus on seeding potential products/businesses. Many of these seeds will fail, but some will thrive, and these will become the growth drivers of tomorrow.
This, pretty much, is what we do in our business. Our core business is executive coaching. We are passionate about it, we love our clients and we never lose sight of how we can add value for them. However I regularly get together with my co-founders, Rob and Glen and key members of our team, to germinate new ideas for expanding our services. We’ll nurse some of these along for a while. Some will fall by the way side and others will flourish. These latter may become the ‘emerging stars’ in our business. We’re experiencing this growth at the moment with our Coachlive business, an idea initiated with Leonie Rothwell; where we’re addressing the need of frontline and middle managers for high quality leadership coaching.
All of this is possible because we keep each other lively within a shared growth mindset. It’s clear to me that a growth strategy and a growth culture go hand in hand!
I’d love to hear about what ‘growth’ means to you in your organisation.