It has been over a year since I embarked on my journey to Accenture as the ASEAN HR lead. We have been on a mission to modernize our HR capabilities and one of the key pillars of our HR transformation framework ‘HR Fast Forward’ is the importance of a growth mindset. I believe, without it, the journey of transformation is an exercise in futility and such a mindset is the absolute pre-condition to any sustainable and successful transformation regardless of the function or organization.
Dr. Carol Dwek defines a growth mindset as the understanding that ‘abilities and intelligence can be developed’. To me, a growth mindset involves how motivated one is to achieve greater things in face of challenges and changes, and this is reflected in curiosity to learn and building new skills, willingness to explore new ways of working, and in openness to embrace change.
In my dealings with individuals that have a growth mindset, one thing that consistently comes across is that such individuals have the innate ability to pivot their skills and capabilities faster than their peers. They have the zeal to stay relevant in a world that is facing epic disruption, and not only do they take on the challenges of epic disruption, they are thriving in it.
I often see organizations and teams trying to drive innovation through new products and services without first focusing on the culture. To me, the culture to innovate is the most important dimension that has to be in place with the growth mindset being a fundamental component.
Here are some of the practices I try to inculcate in my team in order to drive a growth mindset:
Create an openness to challenge the status quo: Out with the old, in with the new. Creating a safe space for people to talk about why we do what we do and also challenge conventional norms is important. I often let my team know that while we may operate with some key principles in mind, the “how” of which we get things done can often change, which is why it is crucial to address such aspects.
If an organization is unable to explain why it does what it does and there is a better way to do it, then the organization needs to improve the way it works.
A relentless focus to solve meaningful problems: Putting a growth mindset into action requires a purpose and a direction. One of the best ways to practice this is by finding a real problem to solve. Get very passionate about it and decide to do all that it takes to solve it. For me, that has always been crucial. Get knee deep into the context. Speak with people. Experience it yourself. Then try and start solving it by approaching it in a different way.
Provide opportunities for teams to learn together: We have recently re-launched our focus on learning within our team. For 2019, we have made it a priority that the team develops and grows its capabilities as HR practitioners. We have curated impactful learning content around a simple framework that will help our team members focus on what is important. We have also started to set aside time to learn together as a team. Learning together and from each other can help reinforce concepts in a social way that is fun and can happen anywhere, anytime and in many different forms.
I often share with my team how I personally integrate learning moments into my daily life with a hope that they too can also find practical ways to weave learning into their lives on a daily basis.
As leaders, we can’t expect our teams to embrace a growth mindset if we ourselves are not consistently doing so. We need to lead by example and show how we ourselves learn and grow, and how we, ourselves are open to change. If we are able to do this and simultaneously help our teams to follow suit, we are then able to create sufficient energy and impetus to drive our people forward and create a new norm in our teams — of a growth mindset.