Have you got a growth mindset?

By 15th January 2020 No Comments

Your mindset affects your whole outlook, this in turn alters the results you expect. This is not an article about simply being positive. Instead this is to ask, are we making an excuse to ourselves as leaders that currently, and in the future will limit the potential we, our people and our businesses can achieve? Can having a Growth Mindset really change your results?

When visiting established businesses I often start by asking a little about the reasons they began building a business, the motivations, passions and ambitions. It’s here that I find the embers still glowing, the ones that started the fire to build something in the first place. But so often these embers have long since been buried in day to day demands of business life. Exploring where you are limiting your growth mindset allows you as a leader the space to re-kindle the flames that drove the business in the first place. So does your mindset matter? Is this simply a catch phrase, that will soon be gone? Or can challenging your mindset help you head for new horizons?

Challenging our Mindset

Working with a long established family business, we discussed if they had settled and stopped challenging opportunities to grow further. Perhaps if they had even got a little bored with the ‘doing what they’d always done’. What if instead they set ambitious plans to double turnover in five years – while maintaining margin. The board thought this was beyond realistic goals. So DNA asked for permission to spend a few weeks exploring if this was achievable and the client bravely agreed (maybe just to prove we were wrong, but brave nonetheless). Our team looked at the business, it’s capability, the market and the competition. We proposed and agreed a programme of intervention that challenged the fixed mindsets that had crept in over time. Their team would implement these plans by developing a range of core areas they could take forward because ‘they were the experts’. While cautious the Directors were starting to see the energy come back, the drive return and after some considerable effort 12 months later the turnover had increased a staggering 38%.

Now, I know you’re thinking, they were underperforming to start with! No, they had a great business, good profit, they were investing in the business, owned their building, the health diagnosis was good – so what was wrong? They had settled for a small percentage of growth a year – it was flat. You see they had a goal years ago when they started the company, it was exciting, and they had massively outstripped their goals. But now it was just running along, never a drama, never a change – nobody was challenging for more. If you’ve set up a business, settling is not the goal, it’s growth, innovation, forging something new, winning new territories and looking at the next opportunity.

When DNA challenged the status quo, this re-kindled something the owners recognised had been lost and wanted to re-gain. Now, two years in the business is on its growth target, this year will see a further 20% increase. Sometimes you need to look inside and make sure everything is right first, before the next step.

Altered Mindset

So the mindset has altered, the, belief, the ambition is there and the people are more engaged, because they know they are part of the future. DNA didn’t simply set a new target, we challenged their fixed mindset, engaged the belief of the board and then their people that they were capable of going places the never had and innovating within their departments; they could do more. Did they have to work harder? Well yes. Did they enjoy it more? Yes! It caught their imagination, it engaged employees, their skills, passion and belief – there is an energy there where before people were a little bored. With a growth mindset everyone gets that they can contribute and bring change.

The Leadership expert John Maxwell famously said, “all of us is better than one of us”. Building a business to the next level is easier when your team are working with you to achieve this.

So, how is your Mindset?

I’ve shared a few quick questions as a starting point. There are no wrong answers, just self-revelation.

Which of the following phrases do you find yourself saying?

About your business…
We have reached the ceiling
We’re looking for the next stage of growth

About your people…
Why don’t they change?
How do we develop our team?

About your market…
This is just how it is
Let’s look at what the next innovation is


You may conclude you’re doing ok. You may say it’s a work in progress and maybe we do have a fixed mindset in some areas, so maybe challenging our outlook, goals, ambitions and people would be good. At DNA we do not work with a set of formulas, write reports and give people lists of jobs. Most of the people we work with are already successful (however you choose to define this). But they have reached a stage where they’d like to grow some more, explore the potential of ‘what if…’ This is where we can work with you to grow, re-ignite (if this is needed), or help the focus on how we get to where we want to by challenging the normal and looking for the exceptional.