Number One Soft Skill: A Growth Mindset, Championed by Execs

The number one soft skill that has gained traction recently is the growth mindset, championed by execs. It is a willingness to learn and embrace new ideas, a love of learning, and a broader view of possibilities, adapting and being agile to change. This blog post explores a growth mindset, its importance, tips on developing it, and top execs modeling and leading the way.


Now, let’s reveal valuable insights as we delve into a bit of wisdom leading executives share. Shekhinah Bass, head of Talent Strategy at Goldman Sachs, said the most critical soft skill distinguishing high performers at Goldman Sachs isn’t creative dealmaking or a confident attitude — it’s having a growth mindset. Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella emphasizes creating a “learn it all” culture; LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner encourages employees to learn new skills and expand their knowledge inside and outside work. CEO of Google, Sundar Pichai, encourages his employees to embrace new challenges and ideas. Google also has a “20% time” program, where employees can use 20% of their workweek to work on projects unrelated to their current responsibilities. 


What is a Growth Mindset? 


Coined by psychologist Carol Dweck, a growth mindset is the belief that our intelligence, abilities, talents, and knowledge can be developed and improved through hard work, tenacity, perseverance, and dedication. People with a growth mindset view problems and challenges as opportunities for growth versus roadblocks. Having a growth mindset, you see failures and making mistakes as a necessary part of learning, growing, and evolving. Plus, you are willing to experiment, stretch yourself, curiously explore new things, take risks, and embrace and invite feedback.


Why is a Growth Mindset Necessary? 



In a workplace culture of a growth mindset, employees are encouraged to take risks, embrace challenges, and seek opportunities for growth and learning. Notably, a culture of psychological safety, where people feel safe to be vulnerable and take risks without fearing humiliation or punishment encourages a growth mindset. Additionally, a growth mindset culture ensures that employees feel supported and valued. This creates a positive interpersonal climate where people are fearless in making mistakes or asking for help and feedback. Finally, a growth mindset culture enables innovation, creativity, and thinking outside the box. 


McKinsey & Company found that many leaders believe skill building is the best way to close skills gaps, focusing on reskilling and upskilling. They have increased efforts in employee development since the pandemic began. Skill building is crucial for adapting to the changing business landscape and fostering a culture of continuous learning and resilience. 



Research has shown that people with a growth mindset are more likely to persistently fulfill their goals versus giving up and succeeding in their careers. They can better handle adversity and setbacks and embody resiliency skills to cope with stress, which helps them stay motivated and perform at their best. Moreover, they are more open to input, feedback, and constructive criticism, allowing them to improve faster. 


How Can You Develop A Growth Mindset? 


While some people may naturally be orientated to a growth mindset, it is a skill that can be developed with intention and practice.

Here are some tips on how to build a growth mindset in the workplace: 

  • Embrace problems and challenges and reframe them as opportunities to learn and grow
  • Surround yourself with people who elevate, challenge, and inspire you. 
  • Focus on the journey and process, not just the destination and outcome.  
  • Embrace and celebrate progress and small, incremental successes along the way. 
  • Be receptive and ask for feedback and constructive criticism.
  • Incorporate feedback and use it as a tool for improvement. 
  • Set SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and time-bound) goals that are challenging but achievable.  
  • Use setbacks as motivation to work harder and smarter.


Having and building a growth mindset can make all the difference in achieving your SMART goals and advancing your career. By cultivating a belief in your ability to develop your skills and abilities over time, embracing challenges and feedback, and staying focused on the growth process, you can develop the soft skill many executives identify as the key to success in the workplace. 


Recommended Reading: 

Do You Have a Growth Mindset? 

by John Hagel iii and John Seely Brown


What Having a “Growth Mindset” Actually Means by Carol Dweck 


Goldman Sachs exec: The No. 1 soft skill successful people use to get ahead at work—and how to develop it 


How Companies Can Profit from a “Growth Mindset” by HBR Editors 

Meet Jodie, your Culture & Transformation Captain. With over twenty years helping people change, facilitating team discussions, building cultures, designing, implementing and teaching classes, your organization is in good hands.