How a growth mindset can positively impact your startup and ways to cultivate it

One of the most basic beliefs we have about ourselves is related to how we view our personalities and our skills.

Our mindset shapes whether we believe we can learn, change, grow or not. It's that simple. It's also that powerful.  It's deeply ingrained in our being, and most of us aren't fully aware of it.

Much of our understanding about mindsets come from Stanford psychologist, Dr. Carol Dweck’s book, Mindset: The New Psychology of Success.

In this book, Dweck talks about the power of beliefs, both the conscious and the subconscious and how changing even the simplest things in our mindset can have a profound impact on every aspect of our lives—especially on how we lead.

Mindset can thoroughly change the way you lead your life. It can also determine the person you become.

But how does that change in value or change in mindset actually transform someone’s life?

Fundamentally to succeed as a leader and to succeed as a Unicorn Leader you're going to have to work on adopting a growth mindset.

Understand that you can grow as a leader, that you can improve your emotional intelligence, that you can improve your leadership capabilities from how you lead, to how you coach, to how you create a safe environment, to how you empower people, to how you create a vision.

All key components in developing a high-performing team.

Unless your mindset is set on the proper side of the spectrum, you won’t be able to succeed in elevating your leadership.

See, the two spectrums are a fixed mindset and a growth mindset, and we're going to dive right into them in this blog. 👇

Growth vs Fixed Mindset

Out of these two mindsets, which we manifest from a very early age, springs a great deal of our behaviour, our relationship with success and failure in both professional and personal contexts, and ultimately our capacity for happiness.


  • Assumes character, intelligence, creative ability are static.
  • Success = intelligence.
  • Avoid failure at all costs.
  • Constantly seeking approval.

A “fixed mindset” assumes that our character, intelligence, and creative ability are static givens that we can’t change in any meaningful way.

Success is the affirmation of that inherent intelligence; striving for success and avoiding failure at all costs becomes a way of maintaining the sense of being smart or skilled.

Believing that your qualities are carved in stone — the fixed mindset — creates an urgency to prove yourself over and over.

If you have only a certain amount of intelligence, a certain personality, and a certain moral character... well, then you’d better prove that you have a healthy dose of them.


  • Thrives on challenges.
  • Failure = opportunity for growth and to learn.
  • Passion for learning.
  • Power of effort.

A “growth mindset,” on the other hand, thrives on challenge and sees failure not as evidence of unintelligence but as a heartening springboard for growth and for stretching our existing abilities.

At the heart of what makes the “growth mindset” so winsome, Dweck found, is that it creates a passion for learning rather than a hunger for approval.

Its hallmark is the conviction that human qualities like intelligence and creativity, and even relational capacities like love and friendship, can be cultivated through effort and deliberate practice. Not only are people with this mindset not discouraged by failure, but they don’t actually see themselves as failing in those situations — they see themselves as learning.

How Mindset Impacts your Organization

Mindset affects the level of enjoyment, efficiency, outlook on the company and type of work you as a leader and your workers do.

A fixed mindset can hinder the company’s success. People with a fixed mindset obstruct their own development through their belief in the innate talent and their fear of failure.

More than that, we can stunt the potential growth of our employees by ascribing them a fixed mindset.

On the other hand, a growth mindset can bring the team and the company closer to its goal. People with a growth mindset work hard and train hard to ultimately realize their potential to the fullest.

By confronting our own attitudes and ideas, we can develop a growth mindset.

Truthfully, amidst meetings, to-do lists, projects and the work itself, one may not realize what side of the mindset spectrum they are on.

Perhaps right now you're thinking: well, am I fixed or am I growth? Where do I fall? Am I a bit of this or I'm a bit of that?

Most of us tend to or want to believe that we're all growth. Of course. No one wants to say out loud that they're fixed. But it affects us in every part of life that we're not always aware of how we show up in growth and fixed mindsets, both in a professional, personal or in a relationship capacity.

So, how can we be more conscious of our mindset as the first step to using it to our advantage? Keep reading to find out. 👀

How to Recognize, Improve and Shift to a Growth Mindset

The view you adopt for yourself profoundly affects the way you lead your life.

As a manager, being self-aware of your own mindset and the mindset of your employees will speak volumes about if your startup moves forward or gets fixed in its current state.

Mindset is a foundation or a key component to believing your team can improve and can determine whether you will accomplish the things you value as a company.

How does this happen? How can a simple belief have the power to transform your psychology and, as a result, your startup?

👉 Some ways to recognize your mindset as a leader:

Journaling, embracing challenges as opportunities at work, practicing the reframing mentioned below, investigating how the organizational culture views mistakes, etc.

👉 How to improve mindset at your startup:

As a leader, maybe you have to explicitly remind your team members to view challenges as a learning opportunity, or help reframe mistakes as not the end all be all.

Moreover, you can instill more development opportunities into your culture by setting aside specific learning days or signing up for training where your team members can learn for the sake of learning.

This can be as simple as reading a relevant book on a skill they want to progress to attending a conference, to undergoing a more thorough leadership training program. You can read our blog on how to choose a leadership training that’s right for you.

At Unicorn Labs we offer leadership training to help managers hone in these practices and skills until they become second nature, thus facilitating growth within the organizations.

👉 Shifting mindsets:

To rewire your mindset, you have to redefine the definition and significance of success, the impacts of failure and the meaning of effort.

People with a fixed mindset see risk and effort as potential giveaways of their inadequacies, revealing that they come up short in some way.

In the fixed mindset, imperfections are shameful.

Here is a perfect example that illustrates the key difference between the two mindsets: For those with a growth one, “personal success is when you work your hardest to become your best.”

Whereas for those with a fixed one, “success is about establishing their superiority, pure and simple. Being that somebody who is worthier than the nobodies.

For the latter, setbacks are a sentence and a label. For the former, they’re motivating, informative input — a wake-up call.

Be Careful of a False Growth Mindset

Common misconceptions:

  1. "I already have it, and I always have."

People often confuse a growth mindset with being flexible or open-minded or with having a positive outlook — qualities they believe they’ve simply always had.

At Unicorn Labs we call this a false growth mindset.

Everyone is actually a mixture of fixed and growth mindsets, and that mixture continually evolves with experience.

A “pure” growth mindset doesn’t exist, which we have to acknowledge in order to attain the benefits we seek.

  1. "A growth mindset is just about praising and rewarding effort."

This isn’t true for students in schools, and it’s not true for employees in organizations. In both settings, outcomes matter.

Unproductive effort is never a good thing.

It’s critical to reward not just effort but learning and progress, and to emphasize the processes that yield these things, such as seeking help from others, trying new strategies, and capitalizing on setbacks to move forward effectively.

In all of our research, the outcome — the bottom line — follows from deeply engaging in these processes.

Parting Thoughts

Dweck writes, the passion for stretching oneself and sticking to it, even (or especially) when it’s not going well, is the hallmark of the growth mindset.

This is the mindset that allows people to thrive during some of the most challenging times in their lives.

A mindset shift changes what people strive for and what they see as success.

It changes the definition, significance, and impact of failure.

It changes the deepest meaning of effort.

With a growth mindset, your members will strive for better and work more efficiently to achieve success for themselves and for the company.

Although all organizations benefit from a growth mindset, the DNA of a startup will especially lend well and thrive off a growth mindset.

It’s what allows for continuous improvement and innovation, and ultimately what helps it thrive in the long-term.

If you’re still unsure of how to implement a growth mindset at your workplace, check out Unicorn Labs’ leadership training program.

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