Ian Kinnery.
Rebecca Wayman

An interview with Ian Kinnery on why a growth mindset is "fundamental" to successful scaling

Ian Kinnery is a businessman, coach and entrepreneur who heads up Kinnery.co.uk.

For the first official day of Bdaily’s Scaleup Focus Week, we spoke to Ian - a European Coach of the Year - on the importance of having a growth mindset and why it can be so beneficial for scaling a business.

Hello, Ian. How important is a growth mindset in context of rapidly growing a business?

“It is fundamental. One of the inevitable effects of having a rapidly growing business is that it is becoming exponentially ever more complex and as anything becomes more complex the tools and techniques that work on a small scale wont necessarily work on a much greater scale.

“Cooking dinner for yourself is a different thing altogether than cooking dinner for 50 or 150. Leading a business of five people is very different, on every level, to leading a business with 50 or 150 people.

“A growth mindset will be foundational in helping us to grow our skills and approach to keep ahead of the growth in complexity.”

What does having a growth mindset actually mean?

“In simple terms, a growth mindset is one that believes that the talent, skills and abilities that a person has at any moment in time are all capable of being developed.

“Someone with a growth mindset will be constantly seeking to grow and develop. A fixed mindset, in contrast believes that such things are fixed, so you can either do something or you cannot do that something.

“A growth mindset might say ‘I can’t do that yet’. For the fixed mindset, there is no word ‘yet’.

“The term comes from the work of Carol Dweck published in her 2006 book ‘Mindset’. She writes: ‘The passion for stretching yourself and sticking to it…. is the hallmark of the growth mindset’.”

Is a growth mindset a skill or characteristic? For example, is it nature or nurture?

“Like so many things it is a combination of both. The important thing is that whatever it is now, we can all change our mindset.

“In fact the decision to change from a fixed to a growth mindset is, in the instant, a transition to a growth mindset. It is a way of looking at the world, a way of looking at life and at opportunity.

“It is at our very core and, most importantly, it is a choice. We all have a choice, no matter what our circumstances, about how we look at the world. For me a growth mindset is the choice of hope.”

How does someone know if they have a growth mindset?

“By the way they view the world and, in particular, the way they view challenges. If they find themselves saying to themselves, ‘I can’t do that’ or ‘I could never do that’, that might indicate a fixed mindset.

“If they see things they attempt as binary, e.g. success or failure, that might indicate a fixed mindset.

“If they feel challenges as an assault on their fragile ego, that might indicate a fixed mindset whereas viewing those same challenges as an opportunity to learn, to get better, to develop would probably indicate a growth mindset.

“For the fixed mindset success is about proving you are smart or talented for the growth mindset it is about stretching yourself to learn something new.”

Is there anything entrepreneurs or firms can do to further develop a growth mindset?

“Awareness is curative. I hope that some might read this and start to be aware of their mindset and start to understand whether it is smoothing the way or getting in the way for them and thereby make the decision to make a different choice.

“It is a funny thing but once we make that decision to approach life and its problems with a growth mindset how quickly and frequently our new approach will work for us.

“A fixed mindset will convince themselves that ’the problem is ‘out there’’ whilst the growth mindset knows that the solution is ‘in here’.

“And, like so many other things, we can then learn more about mindsets, find a coach to help us and hold us to account and invest the time and effort in developing ourselves.”

How could you go about creating change within the organisation and encouraging your firm to foster a growth mindset?

“As the saying goes, ‘a fish rots from the head’. It starts at the top. For the company to have a growth mindset the leader or leaders need to have a growth mindset.

“I can’t think of anything more likely to kill off a growth mindset than a leadership with a fixed mindset. Mindsets, like emotions, are contagious and once the seed is sown it doesn’t take too much for that way of looking at the world to become part of the culture.

“One of the most gratifying things I see is that positive contagion spreading. I am working with a business today where the leader committed to a process of self-development three years ago. It quickly spread to the leadership team and from there to the whole workforce.

“We now have a business where learning is the norm. Their engagement scores are outstanding, even the manual workers on the shop floor are asking to join ‘book clubs’ and are consciously developing themselves individually and collectively.

“It is no surprise then that their financial results are double what they were this time last year. The business is going gangbusters and every member of the company is committed to being better today than they were yesterday.

“You can’t scale without a growth mindset and with a growth mindset, properly applied, you can’t not scale.”

Get in touch with the conversation @Bdaily and #ScaleupFocusWeek on Twitter.

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