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A Growth Mindset – Does Your Company Have One?

In today’s business climate we are faced with many obstacles. The ripple effect from the Pandemic has created new challenges in many aspects of our personal and business lives. From supply of product, labour shortages and business closures to price inflation and the list goes on. In spite of all this, I remain very optimistic about the future, especially in the SME sector of the Canadian economy. Yes, we see closures but, at the same time, record numbers of new businesses are starting up in the middle of the worst consumer crises in years. We have observed businesses completely reformulating, changing formats, adding new services and new products to adapt to these changing market conditions. I see this as very positive and, in some instances, a forced renewal within business sectors that have been stagnant for years. So I say, “What’s not to be optimistic about?” Here’s my take on what’s happening. People refuse to give up and give in. They have adapted a positive mindset and chose how to react to their circumstances. I applaud these efforts.

Stoicism, an ancient Greek philosophy, is certainly not new but there has been renewed focus on the topic by writers like Ryan Holiday in his books “The Obstacle is The Way and Ego is the Enemy.” In Stoic philosophy, one of the key tenets is the idea of “your reasoned choice.” Basically, you have the power to decide what you will do based on your current circumstances. You cannot control the world around you. This includes the people on social media and their opinions, suppliers and competitors. However, you can control how you react and how you decide to move forward. You can choose not to be a victim of circumstance. This type of thinking is the first step towards creating a growth mindset.

World-renowned Stanford University psychologist Carol Dweck, in her decades of research on achievement, success and the power of our mindset, published “Mindset: The Psychology of Success.” In this book, Dweck shows how success in school, work, sports, the arts, and almost every area of human endeavour can be dramatically influenced by how we approach our goals. People with a fixed mindset—those who believe that abilities are fixed—are far less likely to flourish than those with a growth mindset—those who believe that abilities can be developed through hard work, good strategies, and mentorship. “Mindset” reveals how great parents, teachers, managers, athletes, and leaders can put this idea to use to foster outstanding accomplishment.

This thinking and approach applies to you personally, but can also be developed within your team and your business. So where do you start? A growth mindset and goal setting go hand in hand but how do you get everyone in your organization on board? I recommend that you start with a vision, and a clearly defined mission statement about what you commit to become. I would also suggest that you get your team involved in the process. This creates a sense of ownership and commitment from the beginning. The purpose of a mission statement is to inform, focus, challenge and inspire everyone on your team. It reflects your shared vision and values, creating unity. It should be simple, clear, and understandable by all. Your vision becomes a guide for your team to understand the path forward.

Here’s a great example of a mission statement from PayPal: “To build the web’s most convenient, secure, cost-effective payment solution” It tells everyone very clearly what they are all about.

Once you have established your guiding vision and mission, you and your team need to move on to creating relatable goals. Providing clarity around your business goals not only keeps you moving forward, but provides the daily guidance your team members need. This, in turn, makes your job as well as your manager’s jobs easier by providing a clear map to keep everyone moving in the right direction.

The goal setting process is the time to think specifically about the idea of a growth mindset and developing a game plan for your team to execute and deliver on your businesses vision. “Begin with the end in mind,” says Stephen Covey, author of The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. It is an example of a positive mindset – focus on what is to be accomplished – the end goal – and sticking to it.

When it comes to goal setting, a good place to start is with each department manager and then work through their direct reports and areas of responsibility. I believe the “SMART” principal by George Doran is a good basis for developing goals for each of your team members. You have likely heard of this idea on the structure for goal setting. Goals should be “Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time based.” It’s through this goal setting process that you can begin aligning your team around your vision and goals. Remember the old adage “What gets measured gets done”; it keeps your team focused.

Keep in mind, the successful execution of a strategy goes beyond the mindset of the leader. Gaining an understanding of the mindset of the entire team helps to identify the potential for alignment within the organization, which translates into both motivation and commitment to goals. When committing to a strategy, the likelihood of success increases when most of your people have the right mindset. You need to ask; does what you hope to achieve, fit and feel right to the people expected to bring it to reality? As the leader, you would be prudent to have a good understanding and awareness of your team’s personal motivations.

Once you have begun the process of goal setting and establishing a growth mindset within your team, be sure you follow up with the other essential ingredients in your growth strategy; implementation process, measurement, follow up and correction as required. Setting goals is important, but the remaining steps in the process are just as critical to your success.

To have a deeper discussion on evolving your organization’s vision, mission, goal setting, leadership and business development strategies, please contact me at


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