Is it possible to foresee what you could accomplish with a few years of passion, toil, and training? The answer is “Yes”. It isn’t some hypothetical situation, dependent on any manner of factors from genes to environment. It’s a mindset. And it’s the one we cultivate every day at Sistema.bio
Sistema.bio India is a social enterprise that provides smallholder dairy farmers with biodigester technology, service and financing that allows them to increase agricultural productivity and net income while improving the environmental sustainability of their farms.
Sistema.bio has been working hard to overcome the challenges in the development of biogas potential in India. Despite the advancement of biodigester technology, rural India suffers from drawbacks such as low methane yields, incomplete bioconversion, process instability and economic non-viability, largely due to wrong implementation designs and poor service networks. Additionally, the lack of end-user productive applications is a major challenge for large scale adoption.
While evaluating Sistema.bio as my next career option in Jan 2019, I came across Alex Eaton (Sistema.bio CEO), a young and super energetic guy with a voracious appetite for learning, constantly seeking out the kind of input that he can metabolize into a constructive plan. At the time, he was thinking of building a biogas sales model via public-private partnerships.I accepted the offer immediately. My journey to build a growth mindset in this company started at this very moment.
After a very short period in my new job, I understood the challenge and quickly realized that a new approach would be needed to address the market needs. After meeting my sales colleagues, I also felt the need to rebuild a spirited sales team that could overcome market hurdles and achieve the desired goals.
In my previous organizations I’d met people who had this one consuming goal of proving themselves in their careers and in their relationships. Such people have “fixed mindsets” and they negatively impact growth plans.
Here at Sistema.bio, when I started observing things as mutable, the situation gave way to a larger picture. Believing that intelligence and personality can be developed rather than being immutably engrained traits, allowed me to start working with my sales leaders on cultivating their mindset for growth.
A “growth mindset,” as I call it, is pretty much exactly what it sounds like: a tendency to believe that we can grow. A growth mindset prospers on challenges and sees failure as a stepping stone for growth and not as a signal of senselessness.
Our mindset stems from our own set of powerful beliefs. Thankfully, beliefs can be changed when they no longer serve us to achieve our goals. This happened within the Sistema.bio India team when the route-to-market was redefined, and more focus was given to public-private partnerships rather than the existing direct-to-home approach. A large portion of my team members had to challenge their beliefs. While some of them continued investing their energies in looking smart, many of them took the route of learning and developing to embrace new challenges.
With the support of the Sistema.bio leadership team, I applied SIX methods to nurture a growth mindset in my sales team, which also helped them see “a new world of possibilities.”
- Create a new compelling belief – In the famous words of C.S. Dweck, “the view you adopt of yourself profoundly affects the way you lead your life.” We started the year 2020 with a new compelling belief about Sistema.bio’s growth potential in India and how the sales and marketing teams could achieve this potential with their talents and skills.
2. View failure as a path to growth – I always believed that failure is an opportunity to apply extra effort in order to significantly improve your results. Fear of failure needs to go if you want to build a growth mindset. During open sessions with Sistema.bio sales leaders, failures were told to be a part of their journey to achieve their goals.
3. Catapult your self-awareness – Sistema.bio promotes a culture of transparent feedback & reviews. This helped the sales team in realizing their gifts and talents while simultaneously comprehending their strengths & weaknesses.
4. Convert yourself into an inquisitive learner – Unlearning is the best way to optimize and change yourself. In Sistema.bio, I cultivated a culture of asking more questions and being more curious about everything we see.
5. Learn to hear your fixed mindset’s “voice” – In monthly sales reviews, managers were told to hear their inner voices. They were told that once they know they have a fixed mindset, they need to anticipate their voice in advance. They need to ask themselves, “Can I do this?”, “What if I fail?”, “Am I open to criticism?” It’s the voice that undermines so much of what we do; the inner critic that judges us and our work.
6. Cultivate a sense of purpose – Always keep a greater sense of purpose. The Big Picture of Sistema.bio India’s sales potential was repeated in every sales meeting to continue igniting a growth mindset. Sales managers may feel low at times, but when you discuss the sense of purpose of their existence in the system –the benefits they are providing to smallholder dairy farmers and the environment as a whole–, you bring forth a positive mood change, and they often come back with renewed spirit.
Today, many of my sales managers are on a journey to cultivate their “growth mindsets” and believe their potential can be harnessed via learning from others, having a good strategy and being diligent. This re-energized sales team is now working directly with more than 25 farmer organizations, cooperatives and impact firms that provide Sistema.bio access to farmers and help validate our work around biodigesters.
With a growth mindset, employees focus on improvement instead of worrying about how smart they are. They work hard to learn more and eventually get smarter. My advice to all colleagues here is to acknowledge yourself as someone who possesses a growth mentality and be proud to let it guide you throughout your career.
Adopting a growth mindset is not just essential in your career, it’s critical. I am happy to discuss more on this subject and happy to receive your comments on [email protected]