In this fast-changing world, if you can’t grow, you can’t keep up. As business leaders, individually and collectively, growth is the way to make the most of change—the only way.
To me, growth, both personal and organizational, means calling upon strength, knowledge, and agility to accelerate. This is the growth I see in my employees amid adversity and extreme change; this is the growth I see in the companies I work with as they transform, plan and prepare for indefinite upheaval. They are exploring new hybrid ways of working, redesigning supply chains, and digitizing customer management processes and HCM systems; they are pushing their teams to develop new ways to solve customer problems, even as interest rates blur the near-term outlook, global food and energy issues also threatened.
Not only do I want to thank these companies for their leadership, but I also want to thank employees across the board for responding to change and disruption with a growth mindset. Not only do people and leaders who choose growth think, act and speak differently, they also align organizations around a shared growth mindset—resilience and agility to respond to change and capitalize on disruption. Then grow to be their oxygen. It nourishes their culture. The workforce is feeling the momentum. It elevates their ambitions.
A growth mindset affects the measures of economic growth. During the 2007-2009 world financial crisis, McKinsey found that resilient (strong, agile, thoughtful) companies generated about 20% shareholder returns. That number accelerated to around 50% in the turnaround years from 2009 to 2011, then increased by 120% in the stable period from 2011 to 2017. These companies have the resilience and the mindset to leapfrog when opportunities open up.
In contrast, those who believe they will pick up where they left off if Covid eases and hiring picks up. Most likely, they are still in austerity mode, because new challenges—disrupted societies, belligerence and war, scarce resources—are here. No doubt, more challenges are coming. The dust has not settled. The dust may never settle.
So how does an organization become a force for growth?
First, assess reality. How open are your employees to growth now? What is the risk of a downward spiral into depression, disengagement or even depression? Aggregated data on employee resilience and mental health is transformative and predictive. Use this data strategically to put HR leaders and business leaders on the same table. It can transform the role of the HR leader from reactive and reactive to informative and proactive. Data is critical to raising awareness and reasoning for action across the C suite as well as business leaders.
Take action to develop growth-oriented skills. Helping people build mental skills and transformative capacity, giving them the desire and ability to meet challenges. Growth consists of three psychological foundations, all of which can be learned and adopted.
- Realistic Optimism: The ability to deal with real things while remaining optimistic about the ultimate positive outcome.
- Problem Solving: The ability to view and evaluate a range of solutions, and learn and grow from each iteration.
- Confidence. Trusting that we have agency, we can determine what we can control.
Help managers help their teams. By learning, modeling, and encouraging growth, managers can lead the culture. People with a growth mindset learn from setbacks and mistakes, fundamentally changing the way team members are criticized and coached. This helps in part to create an environment of “psychological safety,” where the group’s shared belief is a safe place for individualism, thought-sharing, and risk-taking. Employees in highly innovative cultures report high levels of psychological safety and associate innovation with joy, inspiration, and courage.
Safety, innovation and engagement are closely related. Google’s “Aristotelian Study” aims to identify the components of the most effective teams. Google’s head of people operations found that regardless of team composition, a manager’s ability to build psychological safety was the number one factor. A recent meQ study reinforces this: Employees who report that their managers support their well-being are 72% more at risk of feeling safe than those whose managers do not. Resilience was also relevant: People with high levels of resilience were 25 percent more likely to report high levels of psychological safety.
This seems like an unusual time for advocacy growth. But in fact, this is the most critical time. Unstable feeling needs it. For example, who better displays a growth mindset on the world stage than Volodymyr Zelensky?
For an individual, growth means opportunity and fulfillment. For the company, this means cultural cohesion and sustainable business growth. If we work together as a collective, across companies, it can have a positive impact on society. For societies, resilience means economic growth, improved quality of life, equity and inclusion. and infinite possibilities.
be the driving force for growth.