We often work with high potentials and top talents — people that organizations identify as a crucial component in achieving organizational results.

Top talents are key for organizational transformation and growth, but have you ever thought about the hidden talent in your organization? What if those who weren’t identified as key talent using strict organizational measurements were viewed differently? How much more innovative, effective, strong, and robust could your organization potentially be with a substantial additional amount of top talent?

Carol Dweck, a professor of Stanford University and the author of the book Mindset: The New Psychology of Success, explains that her research shows that “managers see more leadership potential in their employees when their companies adopt a growth mindset — the belief that talent should be developed in everyone, not viewed as a fixed, innate gift that some have, and others don’t.” 

What do organizations with a growth mindset approach do to nurture their top talent, and work to identify hidden potential?

Satya Nedella, the CEO of Microsoft, encourages a growth mindset in every individual in his organization and committed to develop and build “a growth mindset organizational culture” at the company. He believes that adopting a growth mindset — the love for learning, openness, and hard work — is a crucial ingredient for individual and organizational transformation.

Nadella believes that a growth mindset culture defines the soul of the company. The soul of the company reflects on the way people collaborate and treat each other, the way they collectively respond and stay resilient in the face of rapid change, and how invested they are in new innovations. All of these behaviors and actions are the reflection of the company’s identity, which is part of Microsoft’s journey towards transformation. Nadella believes in the collective talent at Microsoft and strongly believes in unleashing everyone’s talent. 

Talent development is a process that’s designed to build knowledge, skills, and abilities so that employees can achieve their potential and their organizations can excel and grow. According to the traditional approach on talent development, a company identifies a group of future leaders by measuring key competencies. But what if you decide to adopt a growth mindset, and as a result you believe that everyone has potential, and that talent is neither innate nor static?

Microsoft created a “Talent Talks” program as an additional approach for talent identification.

Each year, the CEO and his senior leadership team meet to review their employees to identify hidden talent. They discuss possibilities for moving people up and across teams, and brainstorm methods of tapping into specific capabilities, as well as extended skills and building experiences for those talents who weren’t included in the traditional, high-potential approach.

Google is also making the shift towards a growth mindset approach to talent, especially in its hiring process. According to Dweck, this shift is showed by hiring more people who lack college degrees, but who have proved that they’re capable, independent learners. That approach follows the belief that talent isn’t static, and that you can actually achieve a lot by hard work and openness for learning.

Zappos, a major shoe retailer, is another example of a company that believes in the importance of a growth mindset and continued learning when it comes to talent development. Zappos maintains a “wishes list” of all its employees. The list is available to everyone in the organization. Employees post things they’re interested in learning and new skills that they’d like to develop, and they’re connected with other people in the organization who have these skills. In that way, Zappos creates a growth mindset culture of openness, love for learning, and development.

Like Microsoft, Google, and Zappos, we strongly believe in a growth mindset approach when it comes to developing leaders at all levels. We think that leaders are made, not born, and believe that everyone can improve, grow, and strive to reach their full potential.

Part of the key to success is learning agility, a fundamental competency at any level. That’s why we teach learning agility in all our leadership programs, from our flagship Leadership Development Program to our Leadership At the Peak program designed for the C-suite. If you’re interested in growing, advancing, and thriving in a changing world, learning agility will be an essential part of your process. And for organizations who want to do the same, a  growth mindset could be equally as important.

Learn more about our programs, which can help you or your employees master learning agility.

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