What’s your mindset? Fixed or Growth?
On 19th March 2016, England won the legendary Six Nations rugby competition, finishing undefeated after beating a spirited French side in Paris.1 This was an impressive accomplishment for the team and a first Grand Slam achieved since 2003. An achievement which can be considered to be even more remarkable following an unsuccessful home staged World Cup campaign in 2015 where they exited in the group stages. This has left me wondering how the side has managed to secure success and importantly how they have been able to win a trophy shortly after their World Cup misfortune. I feel that the change in senior management, in particular the appointment of Eddie Jones as Head Coach, has played a key role in the team’s revival.
During his unveiling Eddie Jones proclaimed that culture change was key to rebuilding England. When commenting on the previous regime, he felt that the players were satisfied with winning caps and being involved with the squad, but consequently lacked the intensity to make the 3% improvement needed for success. Ultimately, he felt as though there was, “a big difference between playing for England and winning for England.”2 This statement could be reflected by England’s poor run of results against the top sides, where they consistently failed to assert any dominance under former Head Coach Stuart Lancaster.
The fact that Jones hasn’t made too many selection changes to the side which finished the World Cup last year, would suggest that he may have altered and influenced something else. Perhaps the mindset of the team?
Fixed vs Growth Mindsets
An individual who exhibits a growth mindset embraces challenges, persists in the face of setbacks and views effort as the pathway to mastery. Their cardinal rule is to learn at all times and at all costs. On the contrary, if someone demonstrates a fixed mindset, they naturally avoid challenges, give up easily and view effort as fruitless. 3
It would be easy to imply that the England side of 2015 exhibited characteristics of a fixed-mindset around their performances due to the fact that their performances did not improve and the same mistakes were repeated in each game. However, Jones recognises the importance of the growth mindset, making reference to reading ‘Mindset’ by Carol Dweck, Stanford University psychologist.4
Applying this to England, Jones has applauded the team’s ability to learn and has labelled that as an advantage that they now have against opponents. Whilst commenting on the style of England’s play against France, he said, “the players have learned how in eight weeks to play a different style, not going away from England’s strengths but adding another string.” This provides further evidence of the growth mindset and specifically highlights the importance of learning, which has arguably played a crucial role in the team’s success this year.
Furthermore, despite England winning this year’s Six Nations, he has emphasised the continual need for improvement, claiming that the side need to “lift it up a level,” even after a successful period. He stated that, “no player should get ahead of themselves” 4, further evidence of a growth mindset and the importance of development as a tool for success.
In the case of England Rugby, I feel that the introduction of Eddie Jones and the messages he has relayed have highlighted the importance of the growth mindset, arguably contributing to the current success of the team. A standout message for me is the importance of continual learning and desire to improve as a source for development, which will hopefully provide the pathway to success as the team moves forward.
What does this mean for business?
Businesses and business leaders should emphasise the importance of a growth mindset for their staff and facilitate an environment which allows employees to demonstrate just that. A contrast of the type of behaviours that each mindset encourage is enough justification for this statement. For example, a fixed mindset can lead to:
Being worried about failing so
Pursuing fewer innovative projects
Keeping secrets to protect their mistakes
Cutting corners and even cheating to try to get ahead
An example of this was demonstrated by global energy company Enron, which after going bankrupt collapsed in 2001. The root of the demise stemmed from the senior management, where they continually covered their mistakes, to ultimately avoid being perceived as a failure. A clear example of how fixed mindsets can be infectious, once adopted.
Compared to a growth mindset which allows people to commit to practice by:
Taking on challenges
Undertaking conscious reflection
Viewing failure as a learning opportunity
I believe that a growth mindset triggered by Eddie Jones, has permeated into the England team this year, arguably contributing to their latest success in the Six Nations.
Would Enron have collapsed if the senior management adopted characteristics of a growth mindset?
How do you encourage employees to embrace characteristics of a growth mindset?
1 BBC Sport, 2016. Six Nations 2016: England win Grand Slam with France victory. Available from: http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/rugby-union/35821697
2 Sky Sports, Eddie Jones says culture change is key to rebuilding England. Available from: http://www.skysports.com/rugby-union/news/12504/10143846/eddie-jones-says-culture-change-is-key-to-rebuilding-england
3 Dweck, C. (2012). Mindset: How you can fulfil your potential. Constable & Robinson Limited.
4 The Daily Mail, 2016. He’s Eddie Jones the joker, but cross him at your peril as England coach warns, 'Nobody is guaranteed a place on Australia tour'. Available from: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sport/rugbyunion/article-3501788/He-s-Eddie-Jones-joker-cross-peril-England-coach-warns-guaranteed-place-Australia-tour.html