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Cathy Hoy


CEO and Co-founder

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Cultivating a growth mindset: Essential advice for progressive CLOs

The value of continuous learning and improvement can’t be overstated. In order to foster an organisational culture that values learning and adaptability, adopting a growth mindset can be a transformative first step.
macro shot of brown tree representing growth

More and more, I find that progressive Chief Learning Officers are seeking new strategies to enhance their organisation's learning culture. 

One strategy that has gained significant attention is cultivating a growth mindset. This approach fosters resilience, facilitates learning, and fuels success…it’s why we cover it in the Learning Leaders Programme. 

What is a growth mindset?

In case this is a new concept for anyone, a growth mindset, as defined by psychologist Professor Carol Dweck, is the belief that intelligence and abilities can be developed through dedication, effort and hard work. 

It's a mental framework that embraces challenges, persists through setbacks, learns from criticism and finds inspiration in others' successes. 

It's not just about praising and rewarding effort but also about recognising the value of continuous learning and improvement. 

If you’ve not come across Professor Dweck, here is a short TED talk.

The role of a growth mindset in corporate learning

For a CLO, adopting a growth mindset is more than personal development – it's about fostering an organisational culture that values learning and adaptability. 

Imagine walking into an organisation where this mindset is prevalent. 

What would it look like? 

How would it feel to be part of such an environment?

An organisation that cultivates a growth mindset is a vibrant, dynamic place. It's an environment where learning is valued, challenges are welcomed, feedback is sought, collaboration is prevalent and confidence is nurtured. 

As a CLO, fostering this kind of environment can significantly enhance your organisation's learning culture and drive its success.

An organisation that cultivates a growth mindset is a vibrant, dynamic place

How a growth mindset promotes curiosity

In an organisation where a growth mindset is embedded in its culture, there's a tangible sense of curiosity and eagerness to learn. 

Employees aren't afraid to ask questions or seek clarity – they are encouraged to do so. There's a constant buzz of intellectual engagement as employees actively seek out new knowledge and skills. 

A growth mindset also promotes a collaborative atmosphere. There's less competition and more cooperation. 

Employees understand that everyone's effort contributes to the success of the organisation, which means they are more willing to share knowledge, collaborate on projects and support each other's growth.

A growth mindset fosters resilience

A transformative mindset

Here are three key ways a growth mindset can transform your organisation's learning culture:

1. Resilience and persistence

A growth mindset fosters resilience. It encourages employees to keep trying, even when things are difficult. This mindset can be particularly beneficial during periods of change or transition, helping employees adapt more quickly and effectively.

Setbacks and failures aren't seen as the end of the road but as stepping stones to success. There's an atmosphere of resilience and determination. 

Employees are more willing to take on challenging projects because they know that even if they stumble, they'll learn something valuable. This resilience fuels innovation and creativity, as employees are not deterred by the fear of failure. 

2. Embracing challenges and opportunities

A growth mindset sees challenges as opportunities for learning and growth. 

This perspective can encourage employees to step out of their comfort zones and take on new responsibilities, thereby enhancing their skills and capabilities.

3. Valuing feedback and criticism

Feedback isn't feared; it's sought after (imagine that!). Employees see constructive criticism as an opportunity for growth rather than a personal attack. 

This openness to feedback fosters a culture of continuous improvement where employees are always looking for ways to enhance their skills and performance. 

Openness to feedback fosters a culture of continuous improvement

How to cultivate a growth mindset

As a CLO, the task of fostering a growth mindset within your organisation is not a ‘one-and-done’ initiative. 

It requires careful strategic planning, consistent effort and a deep commitment to nurturing an environment that prizes learning and adaptability. 

It's about creating a culture where challenges are viewed as learning opportunities, failures are routes to success and feedback is welcomed as a valuable tool for improvement. 

This process involves redefining success metrics, reshaping communication strategies and consistently reinforcing the growth mindset values through actions and rewards. 

Ultimately, cultivating a growth mindset in an organisation is a journey, not a destination, and as a CLO, you'll be at the heart of this transformation. 

The task of fostering a growth mindset within your organisation is not a ‘one-and-done’ initiative

Here are some essential steps you should take:

Reward actions, not traits (Think ‘A for effort’!)

It's crucial to focus on rewarding actions rather than inherent traits. Recognise and reward effort, progress, and attitude. This approach can help employees develop a growth mindset by reinforcing the message that effort leads to outcomes.

Encourage lifelong learning

Promote the idea that learning is a lifelong journey, not a destination. 

Provide opportunities for continuous learning and professional development. This could include offering training programmes, workshops or online courses.

Embrace imperfection

Perfection is an unrealistic goal that can hinder growth. Instead, encourage employees to embrace imperfection and learn from their mistakes. 

This can create a safe environment where employees feel comfortable taking risks and trying new things.

Perfection is an unrealistic goal that can hinder growth

Model a growth mindset

As a business leader, your behaviour sets the tone for the entire organisation. Demonstrate a growth mindset in your own actions and decisions. 

Show resilience in the face of setbacks, seek out feedback, and embrace challenges as opportunities for growth.

Cultivating a growth mindset is a powerful strategy for enhancing your organisation’s learning culture. It fosters resilience, encourages lifelong learning and creates an environment where challenges are seen as opportunities for growth. 

As a progressive CLO, adopting and promoting a growth mindset can be instrumental in driving your organisation towards continuous learning and improvement.

If you enjoyed this, read: Learning and development’s role in culture change that sticks

Author Profile Picture
Cathy Hoy

CEO and Co-founder

Read more from Cathy Hoy

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