Leadership & Productivity

How to emulate the 'growth mindset' success of leading entrepreneurs

6 min read

08 April 2019

Features Editor, Real Business

Is embodying a growth mindset the secret to successful leadership? These major entrepreneurs, (including the co-founder of a unicorn status bank – OakNorth), swear by it.

You know the saying, namely that great work and even greater leadership starts with having a positive mindset. Eduardo Briceno, Co-founder of brain training tool, Mindset Works, agrees.

He welcomed a select number of SME owners to a central London location, (hosted by elite entrepreneurial networking organisation, The Supper Club and AXA PPP healthcare), to discuss how to achieve it.

“The best way to predict the future is to create it”, says Briceno, quoting from one of America’s most famous leaders, President Abraham Lincoln. But these words, inspirational undertones aside, can also be used to stimulate a growth mindset approach in business.

What is a growth mindset anyway?

“The growth mindset theory is underpinned by the belief that human qualities are changeable, and that we can develop our abilities,” says Briceno.

So, if having a growth mindset means that the individual believes they can alter their way of thinking for the better, what is the opposite mindset? It’s called a fixed mindset. (Watch out, you may start to recognise some of the fixed mindset traits below in your own forms of leadership at work!)

What is a fixed mindset?

Whilst having a growth mindset means that you believe in the power of self-improvement and that you can become a better, cleverer leader, with a fixed mindset, it’s quite the opposite.

Those with a fixed mindset usually react to criticism is a negative and defensive way. On the other hand, those with a growth mindset react positively and see it as an opportunity for learning and growth. This means that those who pursue a growth mindset wholeheartedly do not face self-limiting beliefs in the world of work.

Here’s how to implement a growth mindset at a macro level in your business:

  • Set up systems that allow employees to do their job better
  • Set up systems that make job operations easier
  • Introduce new systems for learning
  • Onboarding – do you set performance or learning goals?
  • Tell your staff about the learning systems and processes available

Believe that you can do anything: Edwina Dunn, Founder, and CEO, Starcount


Source: Retailweek

Fix yourself on high-level goal over mid-level goals and strategies, we can all get stuck bogged down in the small stuff, but we are leaders, and that’s not our job.

We discovered earlier on as a tiny company working with a multi-billion-dollar company (Tesco), that whilst their demand meant we grew at 100% for 5 years, it sucked in all our talent and resources, and investors soon started to say that we were overly reliant on them. In short, we became a big fish in a small pond.

We then leveraged our partnership with retailers all over the world, and fast. We used what we knew, namely that two people together can do practically anything. I have worked with my husband for thirty years, so I knew that he was the best person I could ever partner with on a business level.

Tesco said to us, we don’t understand this leadership model, one person must be accountable. We weren’t surprised by this comment because, in our experience, grocers are very hierarchical. But we stuck to our guns and knew that being expansive in our thinking was going to take us where we wanted to go, as a pair.

Learn to let go: John Stapleton, Co-founder, New Covent Garden Soup Company


Source: The Times

You need to inspire people, and that comes from a position of authenticity. Think about it in this way, everything that’s been done up to now, I’ve done, I started the business, I had the great, and winning idea. But now, I can’t keep doing everything myself. I can’t be good at everything, I need to let my team learn and grow too.

If you employ a bunch of self-starters, the problem is that they all self-start! If you do less, you let people do more. As the founder or CEO, it’s more about setting the direction of your business and inspiring your staff. Motivating the team is a unique and powerful tool that only you can apply.

Tear up the recruitment manual: Joel Perlman, Co-founder, OakNorth


Source: Specialist Banking

Are you short of time? As a founder or CEO, you probably are. But this is where mistakes can be made at the recruitment level within businesses. Whilst it’s important to asses a candidate’s technical ability and skills, you need to assess their learning disposition and general skill-set too.

With recruiting let’s tear up the manual and start again from zero. At OakNorth we redesigned the whole process in a few hours and implemented it right away. It’s not about bureaucracy, it’s about the employee having the right initial mindset for us. We don’t have the time to waste time.