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Growth Mindset at Work – Unleashing Potential Beyond Learning


In the realm of personal and professional development, the concept of growth mindset has gained considerable traction. While Carol Dweck's pioneering work laid the foundation for understanding growth mindset, Skip Bowman's unique perspective, as explored in his book "Safe to Great – The New Psychology of Leadership" (2023), expands our comprehension of this transformative mindset. This article delves deeper into Bowman's insights, focusing on the relational and collaborative aspects of growth mindset.

The Relational and Collaborative Nature of Bowman's Growth Mindset:

Bowman's definition of growth mindset extends beyond personal growth, emphasizing the critical role of collaboration and relational potential. He views growth mindset as an adaptive and transformative way of organizing one's mind, enabling individuals to embrace challenges, prevent stagnation, and bring out the best in others through the power of relationships. It underscores the importance of collaboration, collective intelligence, and shared purpose in cultivating a growth-oriented culture.

Collaboration as a Catalyst for Growth:

Bowman highlights the significance of collaboration in fostering growth mindset. He posits that growth mindset is not an individual pursuit but a collective endeavor that leverages diverse strengths and talents. Valuing collaborative efforts and embracing a shared purpose becomes a catalyst for team and organizational effectiveness. By engaging in collaborative endeavors, individuals tap into the collective intelligence of the group, leading to innovation, heightened performance, and overall success.

Harnessing Collective Intelligence

Bowman recognizes the power of collective intelligence in driving growth mindset. When individuals with growth mindsets come together, a synergistic effect occurs, enhancing problem-solving, creativity, and team performance. Embracing diverse perspectives and valuing contributions from all team members fosters an environment where collaboration thrives, resulting in greater innovation and success. This perspective aligns growth mindset with inclusive leadership, promoting diversity and equity in the workplace.

A Relational Approach to Growth MindseT

Bowman's view on growth mindset goes beyond the cognitive aspects and considers emotional intelligence and empathy. Developing a growth-oriented mindset enhances understanding and management of emotions, leading to improved interpersonal relationships and effective collaboration. Bowman's approach emphasizes not only personal growth but also the growth and well-being of those around us, fostering a supportive and empowering environment for all.

The Six Principles of Growth Mindset

Bowman breaks down growth mindset into six principles or operating modes: Aim High, Explore, Transform, Go High, Lift Others Up, and Team Up. These principles guide individuals in adopting a growth-oriented mindset and provide a framework for collaborative and transformative actions. Aim High encourages individuals to set ambitious goals, while Explore fosters curiosity and continuous learning. Transform emphasizes adaptability, Go High focuses on positive solutions, Lift Others Up emphasizes support, and Team Up underscores the value of collaboration and shared success.

The Research Base: Linking Growth Mindset to Effectiveness in the Corporate World

Bowman's work is deeply rooted in research conducted in corporate settings. Numerous studies have shown the positive impact of growth mindset on leaders, teams, and organizations. Leaders with a growth mindset embrace innovation, adapt to change, and inspire their teams. Teams with a collective growth mindset exhibit higher collaboration, creativity, and problem-solving. Organizations that foster a growth mindset culture experience increased employee engagement, improved performance, and greater resilience.

Protective Mindsets-Seeking Psychological Safety

Bowman introduces the concept of protective mindsets, replacing fixed mindsets. Protective mindsets arise from the desire for internal psychological safety. While understandable, these mindsets can hinder growth mindset in others. The rigidity associated with protective mindsets limits individuals' willingness to embrace challenges, take risks, and learn from failures, inhibiting personal and collective growth.

The Profoundly Social Nature of Learning and Mindset Influence

Bowman emphasizes the social nature of learning and how mindset can be influenced by leaders and colleagues. The mindset of influential individuals significantly impacts others. Leaders and colleagues with a growth mindset create an environment that encourages exploration, learning, and collaboration. Conversely, those with a protective mindset restrict learning and growth opportunities. The power of mindset influence highlights the importance of fostering psychological safety and promoting a growth-oriented environment.

Situational Shifts in Mindset

Unlike Dweck's view of mindset as relatively stable, Bowman suggests that mindset can shift situationally based on emotional connections and psychological safety. Individuals can nudge each other toward either a growth or protective mindset in meetings or various situations. Unfortunately, prevailing social dynamics often steer individuals toward protective mindsets. Creating an environment that promotes psychological safety enables individuals to take risks, share ideas, and embrace challenges, fostering a growth mindset.

The Power of Assessment Tools

Bowman has developed a suite of assessment tools linked to the Growth Mindset Compass. These tools accurately measure an individual's mindset and provide key insights into areas of growth and development. They allow leaders, teams, and organizations to benchmark their mindset and operating modes with others. The assessment tools enable tracking of progress and change over time, facilitating ongoing evaluation and adjustment to ensure continuous growth and improvement.


Skip Bowman's perspective on growth mindset, encompassing collaboration, relational potential, and the impact of social dynamics, offers a fresh understanding of this transformative mindset. By recognizing the relational and collaborative nature of growth mindset, individuals and organizations can harness the power of collaboration, collective intelligence, and inclusive leadership. Bowman's insights on protective mindsets, situational shifts, and the importance of psychological safety provide actionable strategies for fostering a growth-oriented culture. By utilizing assessment tools and tracking progress, leaders and organizations can cultivate a growth mindset, unleash potential, and create thriving, high-performance environments. Embracing growth mindset is more than just a theory—it's a practical and powerful approach to personal, team, and organizational development.

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