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Ultimate Guide to Growth Mindset

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How to develop beyond what you thought was possible by integrating psychological safety and growth mindset into the Safe2Great method.

This is a summary blog linking to our vast library of resources on Growth Mindset and Psychological Safety. It includes theory, definitions and practical advice.

Why developing a growth mindset is harder and more important than ever?

During an era defined by rapid change and complexity, as vividly outlined in Skip Bowman’s “Safe to Great,” the adoption of a growth mindset has become more critical yet challenging. We are navigating through transformative times marked by the advent of AI and smart machines (the Globotics Age), an urgent shift towards environmental sustainability (the Green Age), increasing emphasis on human-centric collaboration (the Caring Age), and the intricacies of the digital world (the Digital Enlightenment Age). 

These evolving landscapes, combined with the insights of Martin Ford (Author of Rule of the Robots) and Professor Lynda Gratton (Author of The Shift), underscore the need to surpass our DNA-driven protective tendencies and traditional leadership models. However, this transition is complicated by cognitive overload, where an overwhelming influx of information challenges our decision-making processes, and collaborative overload, which strains our capacity to work effectively in highly interdependent settings. 

Embracing a growth mindset, characterized by adaptability, curiosity, and resilience, is imperative to effectively manage these overloads. This mindset shift is essential not just for individual development but also for organizational and societal adaptation, enabling us to thrive amid the ongoing transformations and challenges of our times.

We are Operating Beyond Our Red Line

Many people are operating already beyond their limits. What we call he ‘red line’ – the threshold where pushing beyond our cognitive and collaborative limits leads to burnout. We explore the necessity for transformative growth that goes beyond mere incremental learning. This growth is rooted in the idea that relational potential far surpasses personal potential in enhancing our capacities. It’s about reshaping not just our skills but our entire approach to thinking, acting, and interacting.

This transformative journey, often unfolding in the discomfort zone, involves challenging and redefining our established beliefs and habits. By embracing Safe2Great principles, we focus on enhancing leadership, influence, and resource mobilization within our relationships. Ultimately, unlocking our relational potential equips us to effectively face challenges without overreaching our limits, highlighting the critical roles of adaptability and psychological safety for individual and organizational success.

Growth Mindset enhances autonomy

In today’s complex and rapidly evolving work environment, the growth mindset is emerging as a crucial tool against complacency and resistance to change. It encourages embracing new challenges, experimenting with novel approaches, and confronting failures. However, as highlighted by thought leaders like Skip Bowman and Gary Hamel, many organizations are hindered by traditional leadership models that prioritize control over empowerment, contradicting the autonomy-enhancing principles of a growth mindset. Embracing this mindset is not only philosophical but also practical, as evidence suggests that granting employees autonomy can boost their performance by over 40%, highlighting the significant impact of empowering individuals in the workplace.

Growth Mindset is based on the principle of enhancing autonomy – one of the most important intrinsic motivators

Growth Mindset is team sport

Growth mindset is more than an individual endeavor; it’s a collaborative effort deeply intertwined with leadership and organizational culture. It’s about surpassing our inherent limitations and unlocking both our own and others’ potential through supportive relationships and a culture that fosters growth. As Skip Bowman notes, a growth mindset enables us to realize and surpass our personal and relational potential, bringing out the best in ourselves and others. 

Building on work by Lise Wiseman in Multipliers, this approach views intelligence and talent as mere starting points, emphasizing teamwork, shared experiences, and mutual upliftment. It’s a comprehensive transformation affecting all life aspects, promoting a culture of learning, adaptability, and progressive thinking. The ‘Safe to Great’ framework embodies this philosophy, offering guidance towards an expansive, collaborative way of living and working, grounded in the principle that collective growth leads to greater strength and success.

Growth Mindset requires great relationships not only to develop, but also increase your relational potential

Growth mindset is about emotions

In the realm of growth mindset, emotions play a pivotal, often underappreciated role in shaping our actions and interactions, as exemplified by Peter, a safety manager at BHP Billiton’s Port Hedland Site. His journey of recognizing how his anger, rooted in childhood experiences, hindered a positive safety culture, underscores the profound impact of emotions in leadership and organizational dynamics. Emotions, more than rational thought, set the tone in interactions and significantly influence team environments, especially under stress. 

Effective leadership and the cultivation of a growth mindset thus depend heavily on understanding and managing these emotional currents, from anticipating consequences through feelings to handling the contagious nature of negative emotions. This emotional awareness and regulation are essential for fostering psychological safety, shifting from a survival mindset to one of thriving, and transforming both personal and professional realms.

What is Psychological Safety

Psychological safety, as explored in “Safe to Great – the New Psychology of Leadership” and popularized by Amy Edmondson, is a foundational concept for high-performing teams, emphasizing the importance of creating an environment where interpersonal risk-taking is safe. It enables team members to voice opinions, ask questions, and admit mistakes without fear of negative consequences, fostering a culture of open communication, creativity, and innovation. 

Research, including studies by Google and Barbara Fredrickson and Laura Delizonna, highlights its role in promoting learning, growth, and positive emotions like trust and confidence, essential for problem-solving and creativity. Leadership is key in establishing psychological safety, requiring a culture of inclusivity, respect, and openness to diverse viewpoints. This environment goes beyond being polite; it involves honest feedback, admitting errors, and continuous learning, creating a space where vulnerability drives innovation. In modern, complex work environments, psychological safety is not just desirable but critical, laying the groundwork for collaboration, resilience, and breakthrough achievements.

The Conspiracy of Silence

When the risks of speaking up are higher than the safety of silence.

In the context of the “Safe to Great” leadership principles, addressing the “conspiracy of silence” is crucial for fostering psychological safety within an organization. This phenomenon, where team members withhold thoughts and concerns due to perceived risks, directly impedes the creation of a transparent and collaborative environment, a key aspect emphasized in “Safe to Great”. The roots of this conspiracy often lie in the fear of reprisal, power imbalances, and a lack of trust, all of which are barriers to achieving the “Aim High” and “Team Up” principles of “Safe to Great”.

Organizational culture, influenced by leadership behavior, plays a significant role in either perpetuating or diminishing this silence. Leaders who embody the “Safe to Great” values by promoting open communication and embracing feedback can effectively counter this trend. Furthermore, the absence of clear feedback mechanisms can contribute to a culture of silence, undermining the “Explore” and “Transform” aspects of “Safe to Great”. Tackling this issue requires a multifaceted approach where leaders are encouraged to build trust, value open dialogue, and provide clear channels for feedback, aligning with the “Lift Others Up” principle. This approach ensures that every team member feels safe and valued, paving the way for a truly psychologically safe environment as championed in “Safe to Great”.

What is Growth Mindset

Skip Bowman’s perspective on Mindset is aligned with Carol Dweck’s concept but offers a unique angle. He defines Mindset as the integration of reactions and adaptations to both internal and external stimuli. It’s a malleable quality that can be cultivated through conscious effort. Bowman illustrates in the book “Safe to Great” how individuals can surpass their natural inclinations, such as risk aversion, by honing their Mindset.

Mindset extends its influence into various aspects of life, including skill development, ethical decision-making, and leadership. Bowman distinguishes between Growth Mindsets, focused on realizing potential, and Protective Mindsets, rooted in instinctive and socially-programmed patterns. His model categorizes protective mindsets, allowing for tailored advice and interventions. In leadership and teams, it includes 16 operating modes and the Growth Mindset Compass for a comprehensive understanding.

Bowman’s ideas highlight the importance of transitioning from protective to growth mindsets, enabling individuals and collectives to achieve new heights while embracing vulnerability.

12 Coaching Questions Based on Growth Mindset

Skip Bowman’s executive coaching emphasizes the critical role of a growth mindset for both personal and professional advancement. At the heart of his approach is the Safe2Great framework, which transcends mere focus on individual performance, highlighting the transformative power of emotional intelligence and effective relational dynamics. This framework is anchored in six fundamental principles: Aim High, Explore, Transform, Go High, Team Up, and Lift Others Up, which collectively guide individuals in not only reaching their own goals but also in enriching their interactions and collaborative efforts with others. To integrate these principles into everyday life, Bowman proposes 12 insightful coaching questions, tailored to each principle, aimed at broadening perspectives and deepening self-reflection. These questions are instrumental in cultivating a strong growth mindset, leading to significant personal development and greater overall satisfaction in various aspects of life.

7 Growth Mindset Practices that Make the Difference between a Protective and a Growth Mindset

Dive into “The 7 Practices of a Growth Mindset” and unlock the secrets to thriving in a rapidly evolving world. This concise yet powerful article offers essential strategies for personal and professional growth. The “Safe to Great” framework offers a powerful lens through which to view and nurture a growth mindset in leaders. This approach is built on seven key practices that are essential for personal transformation – bringing out the best in yourself and others.

  1. Self- and Other-Awareness: The Insightful Observer

How does Mindset Develop and Grow?

Dive into the fascinating journey of mindset development, a process not predetermined by genetics but shaped in adulthood through interactions and experiences. This teaser uncovers how relationships, challenges, and even life-altering events contribute to the evolution of our mindset, often independent of our DNA.

From the resilience forged in adversity to the enlightening moments of epiphanies, discover how our mindset is less a static trait and more a dynamic, evolving aspect of our being, capable of both growth and regression. Understand the interplay between internal and external influences in shaping our mindset and how our responses to life’s ups and downs can lead to profound personal transformation or protective retreat.

Join us in a thought-provoking exploration of mindset growth and the impact of our environment, relationships, and experiences on this lifelong journey of self-discovery and development.

Growth Mindset & The Four Zones of Development

The article “Growth Mindset and the Four Zones of Development” presents a compelling framework for personal and professional growth, categorizing the journey into four distinct zones: Fear, Comfort, Stretch, and Discomfort. Each zone represents a stage in the evolution of an individual’s mindset and approach to challenges. Beginning in the Fear Zone, where reactions are driven by avoidance and self-preservation, individuals gradually progress to the Comfort Zone, characterized by stability but limited growth. As they transition into the Stretch Zone, there’s an active embrace of challenges and learning, paving the way for the Discomfort Zone, where true growth and transformation occur through the tackling of significant, novel challenges. This journey underscores the importance of progressively expanding one’s boundaries and cultivating an openness to challenge, which is pivotal in shifting from a fixed to a growth mindset, ultimately leading to enhanced personal capabilities and contributions to organizational success.

How to develop a Growth Mindset via Psychological Safety?

Navigating the choppy waters of today’s workplace demands more than just skill—it requires a transformative approach to our inner landscapes. “How to Develop a Growth Mindset via Psychological Safety” is an exploration into merging two pivotal concepts that have independently shaped the discourse on organizational development: Growth Mindset and Psychological Safety. The ‘Safe2Great’ framework elucidates this synergy, charting a path from the reactive confines of Survival Mode to the dynamic expanses of Growth Mindset.

This article peels back the layers of behaviors and responses that define Survival Mode—overload, defensiveness, and avoidance—and stitches them into the broader tapestry of psychological safety, where risk-taking becomes safe and challenges turn into opportunities. We will navigate the journey through various mindsets, from protective to learning, and finally to growth, uncovering strategies that facilitate not just the survival, but the flourishing of individuals and organizations in an era that prizes adaptability and continuous improvement.

Leading in Uncertainty with Psychological Safety and Growth Mindset

In “Leading in Uncertainty with Psychological Safety and Growth Mindset,” we explore the intricate balance of empowerment in leadership within VUCAH (Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity, Ambiguity, and Hyperconnectedness) environments. The article delves into the paradoxical nature of empowerment, highlighting how it can simultaneously feel like a relinquishment of control and a critical element for fostering adaptable, innovative teams. It examines the challenges faced by leaders and team members, such as the fear of overstepping boundaries and the risks of decision-making. Crucially, the piece introduces the ‘Safe to Great’ principles, discussing three key mindsets – Controlling-Competitive, Complying-Complacent, and Critical-Sceptical – and how they shape responses to uncertainty. The article emphasizes strategies like building psychological safety, encouraging balanced discussions, promoting shared goals, and modelling adaptive leadership as essential tools for leaders to navigate these complex dynamics effectively.

Beyond Growth Mindset: Embracing the Self-Transforming Mind

In a world that’s rapidly evolving, the pursuit of learning and development has never been more critical. Yet, as we navigate the complexities of personal and professional growth, it’s essential to recognize that not all mindsets are created equal. The concept of a growth mindset, popularized by Carol Dweck, has been a beacon of hope and transformation for many. However, when we delve deeper, exploring the profound insights of developmental psychologists like Robert Kegan and Lisa Lahey, we uncover a richer, more transformative understanding of what true growth entails. This article invites you on a thought-provoking journey to explore the essence of a growth mindset, not just as a tool for learning and adaptation, but as a gateway to a self-transforming, deeply developmental process that reshapes how we perceive challenges, opportunities, and ourselves in the dynamic tapestry of life.


The 6 Stages of Psychological Safety reimagined for the global, digital workplace.

As the business world becomes increasingly global and interconnected, the traditional understanding of psychological safety is being tested by new variables such as remote work, cultural diversity, and the rise of artificial intelligence. The seminal “6 Stages of Psychological Safety” model stands at a crossroads, demanding a reimagination to remain effective in the digital age. This article dives into how leaders can cultivate psychological safety when the conventional cues of proximity, provided by the Allen Curve, are disrupted by virtual workspaces.

We explore the foundational importance of ‘Belonging’ and ‘Shared Path’—elements that must be deliberately fostered in the absence of physical closeness. As we navigate through ‘Space to Learn,’ ‘Increasing Voice and Responsibility,’ ‘Freedom to Explore,’ and ‘Freedom to Challenge and Grow,’ the article illuminates the path from the foundational to the aspirational in the global, digital workplace. Leaders are called to create a culture where psychological safety is not just preserved but invigorated, leveraging the digital and AI advances as tools for fostering inclusion and innovation. This article is an invitation to rethink psychological safety for a world where uncertainty is the only certainty, and where the principles of safety and growth must coalesce to foster resilient, thriving organizations.

Growth Mindset as Strategy for Business Growth

In “Growth Mindset as a Strategy for Business Growth,” the transformative journey with the Safe2Great model is explored, revealing the remarkable adaptability and potential of a growth mindset in diverse business contexts.

The article offers a profound narrative of real-world applications, challenges, and the tangible impact of fostering a culture of growth, underlining the universal applicability and transformative power of psychological safety and a growth mindset in business. It emphasizes the belief, as championed by Carol Dweck and others, that abilities and intelligence are malleable, and highlights the integration of this mindset with psychological safety to foster an environment where continuous learning, innovation, and employee empowerment are deeply ingrained.

This synthesis creates a powerful strategy for business growth, aligning personal development with business objectives, and setting the stage for sustainable success. The article shares insights from firsthand experiences and studies, illustrating how growth mindset and the Safe2Great model have been pivotal in navigating strategic business challenges and catalyzing growth in global organisations.

Skip Bowman, keynote speaker on psychological safety and growth mindset

Skip Bowman

Author of Safe2Great, keynote speaker on psychological safety and growth mindset


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