The global pandemic has caused one of the most significant, most disruptive shake-ups to the economy in decades, with some industries facing substantial challenges and others thriving. This shift has brought a lot of uncertainty and forced nearly everyone to adapt to profound changes in work and lifestyle. Many companies have moved to half or even full-time remote positions. In one survey, 56 percent of companies said they would preserve their remote work setup post-pandemic. For many, this shift meant the need to stay on our toes and be comfortable with learning an array of new skills. Change can be destabilizing for some and even discourage them from excelling. In such uncertain times, firm leaders must nurture a growth mindset among their employees. No one knows this better than Bo Parfet.
Bo Parfet is the Founder of Denali Venture Philanthropy, leads strategic growth for DLP’s Capital’s family of companies, and serves as a board member for numerous companies and nonprofits. He shares his learnings about growth strategies as a public speaker and author. For Bo, a growth mindset is essentially the antidote to uncertainty.
What is a Growth Mindset?
If you’re someone who’s passionate about entrepreneurship or listens to popular podcasts on personal development, you’ve likely heard the term “growth mindset” before. Popularized by Dr. Carol Dweck, the term speaks to the fact that our skills and abilities are malleable and can be enhanced. Dr. Dweck found that our abilities and intelligence are materially affected by our beliefs and self-imposed limitations. When we believe that we can achieve more through effort, we do.
This has been true for Bo Parfet in his professional life as a senior executive and philanthropist and his personal journey. As a kid struggling with dyslexia and a speech impediment, Bo Parfet worried that he might not even graduate high school. Today, he’s creating social change as Co-founder and CEO of the impact investment organization Denali Venture Philanthropy. He’s also one of few people to climb all the Seven Summits and live to write about it.
Why does it Matter?
Typically, Bo parfet says, most companies focus on the bottom line to the detriment of their long-term growth. Increasingly, managers, founders, and other leaders are finding that it pays off to incorporate a growth mindset in their management style. A growth mindset promotes adaptability in times of change, creativity, and innovation. Whether you have a Fortune 500 company, a small nonprofit, or even a support group, demonstrating a growth mindset as a leader is associated with numerous benefits:
- It helps to build trust by letting your employees know that you’re working toward the long-term, not just the bottom line.
- It can boost morale with your team by letting them know you’re willing to invest in them and their talents.
- It encourages innovation and risk-taking, which can lead to big gains.
But how do you bring a growth mindset into your organization as a leader? Here are five things Bo Parfet suggests you try as a leader of any organization.
Make learning fun
In our busy, success-driven culture, it can be easy to get bogged down and forget to enjoy the learning process. In fact, most people don’t expect any fun from their workplace or management! But, as leaders, we should expect more from ourselves. There are many ways to make learning fun for your teams. For example, try hosting a game day activity once per week where employees can challenge themselves by competing in strategic games. Interactive activities like escape rooms sharpen problem-solving skills and the ability to collaborate. “Eurogames” like Settlers of Catan are another great tool for enhancing strategic planning skills.
We’ve all heard high-profile success gurus touting the benefits of failing. Reshma Saujani, the founder of Girls Who Code, said, “fail fast, fail hard, fail often.” Failing isn’t fun, but there is significant research to indicate that it’s productive. Some studies have found that we learn more effectively when forced to improvise and problem-solve. Problem-solving requires risk-taking and creativity, which makes us stronger in the long term.
Bo Parfet has found that mountain climbing is an effective exercise and metaphor for overcoming mental blocks. Conquering what seemed impossible – climbing the Seven Summits – gave him a unique perspective on pushing oneself to the ultimate limits. Of course, only a few will climb these mountains. But each of us should decide what our unique “summit” looks like. That may mean launching a new company or writing a novel, for example.
Bo Parfet recommends incorporating SMART goals into your organization’s planning to boost morale by highlighting achievements. “SMART” is an acronym for specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and time-bound objectives. Try using these five criteria in your annual work plan so that employees reflect on how they work, acknowledge their successes, and can see measurable improvements in their results.
Invest in your team’s education
Show your employees you care about their success, and you’re willing to invest in their growth by offering them development opportunities. Thanks to an array of new tools, mentoring and specialized courses are easily available and very affordable. Survey your personnel to find out what they want to learn about and subscribe your organization to courses through LinkedIn, Udemy, and similar platforms.
Create a support network
A growth mindset rarely works in social isolation. As leaders, we must create a support network for our team members to find inspiration and motivation. Bo Parfet suggests creating a special interest group where those who need mentorship can find it. For example, he finds inspiration in the storied Explorer’s Club.
A simpler option is to create a chat group through Slack or a similar channel, specifically for sharing knowledge and nurturing skills development. The idea is to foster a group conversation with people who can inspire and learn from one another. As a facilitator, it’s important to demonstrate focus. Reinforce that this is a space unrelated to daily work and draw people back when it simply becomes a virtual water cooler.
From more motivated talent to more agile problem-solving in times of crisis, nurturing a growth mindset with your teams is an investment in the future of your organization. In times of economic uncertainty, a growth vs fixed mindset is the difference maker between an organization that grows and one that stagnates.