Your Employees Want a ‘Growth Mindset Culture’—and So Should You


If you think culture is important in determining the success of an organization, you’re in good company. In fact, 92% of Fortune 1000 C-suite executives believe that improving their organization’s culture would increase the value of their company. This is a sensible perspective considering that researchers have identified links between organizational culture and important metrics like company profits, employee retention, and productivity.

Of course, it’s important to understand what constitutes a great organizational culture before we go any further in trying to create one. At NLI, we define organizational culture as a collection of “shared everyday habits.” These habits are formed based on the priorities and goals of an organization, which stem from what an organization believes to be the most important ideals and behaviors to instill in their workforce.

Research has shown that organizations that inspire the cultural norms of collaboration, innovation, and integrity are the ones that are the most successful. Not only do these cultural norms predict success; employees like them too. In fact, these norms have been shown to result in greater trust in and commitment to the organization.

So how, exactly, can senior leaders help these values come to life in their organizations? There are a number of approaches to try, but fortunately, recently published research makes it clear what type of culture does exactly that: a growth mindset culture.

3 studies on growth mindset culture

A growth mindset culture is one that encourages the belief that ability and talent can be developed through effort, informed strategies and high quality mentoring. This is contrasted with a fixed mindset culture, a culture that is focused on how talented people are today, instead of encouraging the development of their abilities.

Recently, researchers conducted three experiments in order to test the relationship between a growth mindset culture, an organization’s cultural norms, and employee trust and commitment to their organization.

First, they accessed the mission statements of Fortune 500 companies and graded them based on their fixed vs. growth mindset language (e.g., Growth Mindset language: “we offer opportunities for personal growth and professional development.”; fixed mindset language: “our success has resulted directly from the talent of our people”). They showed that the companies that had more fixed mindset language in their mission statements were also rated more negatively by their employees.

Second, the researchers created mission statements that espoused either a fixed or a growth mindset and had participants read one of the mission statements and predict how trusting and committed the employees at these hypothetical organizations would be. Unsurprisingly, participants that read the fixed mindset mission statements predict less trust and commitment from the employees of these organizations.

Finally, the researchers asked employees from seven Fortune 1000 companies a set of questions meant to assess their perception of the growth vs. fixed mindset culture at their company, and then to gauge their company’s norms regarding collaboration, innovation, integrity and their trust and commitment to the organization. They found that the more an employee perceived their organization to have a growth mindset culture, the more they felt the organization encouraged collaboration, innovation, integrity, and the more they trusted and felt committed to the organization.

Start building your own growth mindset culture

To summarize these three studies; an organizational growth mindset culture results in the cultural norms of highly successful organizations and inspires trust and commitment in their workforce. The take home message is clear; a growth mindset culture will inspire success in your organization, and it’s the culture of organizations that employees not only want to work for, but the ones they will truly commit to as well.

With this information, it’s easy to see just how important and beneficial a growth mindset culture is to an organization. But this realization is just the first step; the next is to make it happen. Here at NLI, we know exactly how to put your organization on the path to a growth mindset culture.


Author: Ryan Curl, Ph.D.

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