How to Bring Grit and the Growth Mindset to Your Team

Carmela Fortin
Dec 12, 2019

In my previous post, we learned about the importance of using the growth mindset and grit to better empower individuals, and that the key intersection point between growth and grit can be a powerful jumping-off point to propel yourself past failure and toward success. Now, let’s explore how to navigate through the minefields of team entitlement, lack of engagement, blurred boundaries, and friction as they relate to your journey toward grit and growth.Serious stuff, right? You’re taking on the development of team grit, not just your own. You thought quarterly reports were hard. Building your team’s capabilities at the intersection of grit and growth isn’t for the faint of heart.

Our individual backgrounds and purpose set the stage for grit and growth

Let’s reminisce for a moment. Some of us had a tough time in high school, college, or maybe a rocky start to a career. Maybe you were a kid that lived outside your comfort zone and you faced struggles that helped you grow a thick skin. Maybe you had parents that supported you in everything, or maybe they let you experience a healthy dose of frustration. However you experienced childhood, grit and the growth mindset usually begin to take root during this stage of life.“Grit is a lifelong journey that goes back to adversity at an early age when you encountered something that lit a fire in you,” says Brian Knight, Director of Commercial Integration at ASP, a Fortive company. “Grit is about how you respond to setbacks, failures, and learn from your mistakes. Fast forward to applying that at work, or really applying it to anything in life. Will you let failure level set you? There is so much that lines up to not be possible.”‘There is so much that lines up to not be possible’… what a powerful thought. Let’s examine that in the present day, in the current stage of your life and career. In every venture you consider, the probability of failure is undoubtedly higher than that of success. The first step toward living grittily is to understand and accept our unlikely odds and make the decision to continue to risk and persevere. Discovering a meaningful purpose, having a growth mindset, and working with inspiring teams can help us make that decision to power forward against unlikely odds.Finding a meaningful purpose and a reason to grow is what takes us out of our fear and into the powerful advantage of having grit. And using our growth mindset, we can dream of impactful work and go beyond executing day-to-day to create real impact. This combination of perseverance from grit and belief from growth can help you and your team begin to confront seemingly impossible tasks.


Learn to never give up, especially on each other

“Someone with grit doesn’t take no for an answer and creates something new to drive to a successful outcome regardless of the circumstances. Find your way around resource constraints to innovative ways to apply passion and perseverance to whatever comes your way,” adds Knight.I’ve experienced numerous enterprise-level projects in my own career, when my team was faced with a seemingly insurmountable task. For us, “no” was never an answer. Lack of resources was never an eternal state. Giving up was never an option.When a team member felt ready to give up, we learned to leverage the situation as an opportunity to listen and grow at the speed of each other. This is because we had the grit to persevere and the growth mindset to believe in something more for ourselves and for each other. That’s what took us beyond being a good team to becoming a force of nature.Whether you’re at an oil company working to phase out coal or at a healthcare provider shifting from reactive care to preventative wellness, your team needs to be equipped with grit and the growth mindset to find new ways to create and evolve.Here are five ways to strengthen grit and the growth mindset on your team:

  1. Eliminate special privileges. Make sure everyone operates under the same rules and expectations, no matter their titles or personalities. Set clear boundaries with credible consequences to establish and foster integrity at the individual and team levels.
  2. Empower team members to have unique identities. Focusing on accelerated growth does not mean you have to renounce individuality, although teammates without strong growth mindsets may feel pressured to conform. Encourage differences while discouraging people’s walls from going up. It’s important to take time to get to know yourself and your teammates.
  3. Relentlessly foster team engagement. According to Forbes, engaged employees generate 21% greater profitability. Brush up on your own team empowerment and empathy skills to ensure a happy and engaged team dynamic. Open communication between you and your team members will enhance grit and growth and help people stay passionate about their work.
  4. Clear up any work overlap. Task management can be a powerful tool or just another source of frustration. Ensure that your team is armed with a clear understanding of responsible and support people for each task category. Use change management and personal development strategies to ensure that team members develop new skills and enhance their work-associated identity.
  5. Reduce team friction anywhere and everywhere. Cohesion and understanding within cross-functional teams will be a key characteristic to develop as teams and tensions grow. Simply put, your team should be equipped to overcome challenges together. Individual ownership and clear responsibility divisions should be clear to help reduce friction, but conflict under pressure can be inevitable. Healthy disagreement is a key part of the innovation process, especially during growth acceleration, make sure your team members feel secure sharing new and risky ideas.

Making sure your team’s future is bright (and gritty)

No team will ever be safe from the occasional argument, misunderstanding, or external challenge. However, as you continue to help team members develop, we are confident that you will notice a significant improvement in the way work gets done. I hope you have enjoyed this two-part series, and that you and your teams will join us at this intersection of grit and growth.If you would like to learn more about innovative thinking and the skills you need to lead your team into the future, subscribe to our Exponential Enterprise newsletter.