A Simple People Filter: Do your people have a Fixed Mindset or a Growth Mindset?

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By Dan Coleman

Over the last 9 years of coaching and working with dozens of leadership teams in all industries, I’ve come to the conclusion that mindset is a critical – and often overlooked – component of the best teams and the best performing companies.

Growth Mindset and a Fixed Mindset are two contrasting approaches that can significantly influence the trajectory of an individual or organization and cultivating a Growth Mindset is crucial for sustainable business success. So being able to identify which mindset your people have can save you hours of frustration when you’re trying to figure out what’s holding your team back, which candidate to hire, and how to more effectively coach people up.

Understanding the Fixed Mindset:

Fixed Mindset can hinder growth, adaptability, and speed at which people execute. There’s a great book “ It’s not the Big that Eat the Small, it’s the Fast that Eat the Slow “ (Jennings & Haughton ) and people that have a Fixed Mindset can be a drag on your system and slow things down, while those with a Growth Mindset are a propellant for you company.

Here’s a screening checklist of characteristics of an individual with a Fixed Mindset:

  • They tend to give up easily and see failures as fruitless.
  • They feel threatened by the success of others.
  • They avoid challenges & don’t take initiative.
  • They over analyze everything.
  • They aren’t hungry for more and are change averse.

Obviously it may be OK for certain people in certain seats in your company to have a fixed mindset depending on the role. Maybe you have certain roles that only require that that person executes specific tasks, but the big-picture thinking is that in today’s business landscape, having a Growth Mindset is crucial for long-term success.

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Embracing the Growth Mindset:

Here’s a screening checklist of characteristics of an individual with a Growth Mindset:

  • They believe that abilities and skills can be cultivated through dedication and hard work.
  • They embrace challenges as opportunities for learning and improvement
  • They see setbacks as temporary obstacles and part of the path to mastery.
  • These people are hungry for more : more skills, more feedback and more opportunities.

And some of the upside of having a people with Growth Mindsets :

Adaptability: A Growth Mindset encourages a willingness to explore new ideas, and embrace uncertainty and change, which are essential for staying relevant and competitive in a dynamic business environment.

Innovation and Creativity: A Growth Mindset encourages employees to think outside the box, take initiative, challenge existing norms, and find new solutions to problems. This mindset cultivates an environment of collaboration, open communication, and the generation of new ideas.

Continuous Improvement: A Growth Mindset encourages employees to seek feedback, learn from mistakes, and develop new skills. These people are ‘hungry’ and committed to self-improvement not only to enhance individual performance but also to contribute to the overall growth and success of the company.

Resilience: A Growth Mindset helps individuals and organizations bounce back from failures and setbacks and see these experiences as part of the path to success.

As a leader, what is your role in this and what can you do?


First, ask yourself if you may have contributed to a culture of having a Fixed Mindset.  If you apply this filter to your people and find you’re being held back by some people that have a Fixed Mindset, the first place the leader needs to look is in the mirror, and ask yourself questions like:

  • Where did I let them down?
  • Do I solve problems for them or do I encourage them to come up with solutions?
  • Do they feel safe bringing ideas to the table or do I shut down new ideas quickly?
  • Am I investing into them to grow or are we too busy just trying to get things done ?
  • Did I create a culture that encourage a Fixed Mindset

This step is important because the reality is that sometimes our people ‘issues’ are our fault.

Assess the people you are concerned about for a Fixed vs. Simply rate them on a scale of 1 to 10, based on the characteristics above in relation to where you need them to be.

And last, be honest with yourself in this role in this, and work on creating an environment that encourages a Growth Mindset by coaching your people up, investing into their development and have healthy conversations with other leaders around what can be done to foster a Growth Mindset in your people.

Needle Mover Takeaway:

Leaders are responsible for leveling up their people and cultivating a Growth Mindset. So when you’re struggling with people that aren’t performing well or your company has stagnated in its growth, ask yourself if you have people or a culture with the Growth Mindset that you need to get to the next level.

About Coach Dan Coleman

Strategic Business Guide and Leadership Team Coach

Certified Pinnacle Guide & Former Top EOS Expert Implementor

Having worked for two decades as a founder, CEO, investor, and coach, Dan has established a proven process for effectively implementing tools and frameworks that have transformed thousands of companies before you. His trusted clients often refer to me as a strategist, facilitator, and even chief planning officer – but I’ve settled on coach, and sometimes professional “pain in the rear-end.” My role is to champion the superstars on your team and assist in developing and maintaining a culture of accountability.