Your organizational mindset makes or breaks success. Develop a good one, and it will have a positive impact across the organization.

What your employees think is what your organization becomes.

Your organizational mindset, more than anything else, determines business success.

A mindset is a frame of mind. The sum of your team’s beliefs and thoughts shape the organizational culture. What people think about mistakes, conflict or leadership predetermines their behavior.

Harmful mindsets stand between where you are and where you want to be. Upgrading the organizational mindset can accelerate your business transformation.

Here are five mindsets that will boost your organizational culture.

1. Appreciative Mindset:

Focus on what’s working versus what’s broken.

Most organizations approach cultural transformation with a fixer mentality. They focus on fixing what’s broken and let the strengths take care of themselves.

Organizations are not a problem to be solved. Focusing on what’s broken makes people feel miserable. Rather than wanting to improve, they get stuck.

An appreciative mindset acknowledges and builds on what’s already working. Success is not something that just happens–organizations grow in the direction of what they focus on.

Every system has something that works already.

Identify the highpoint moments. When were people the most engaged? Why?

Uncover what people value the most about themselves, their work, and the organization. What are key elements that boost morale and collaboration?

Make time to celebrate small victories. How often do you thank your team for their accomplishments? Do you kick off a new project reviewing successes, or do you focus on what’s broken?

An Appreciative Mindset liberates the best version of your team. It amplifies what’s already working.

2. Mistake Tolerant Mindset:

Celebrate mistakes rather than avoid them.

Now, more than ever, organizations need to redefine their relationship with mistakes. Failure is not the final destination, but a necessary stop along the innovation journey.

What’s your mistake policy? Most companies don’t have clear rules about failure. Employees are encouraged to “fail fast,” but are afraid of the consequences. Fear drives paralysis, not experimentation.

When we apply a right or wrong mindset, we silence innovation. Our upbringing and education taught us to find the right answer. We focus on winning an argument, not learning. Innovation requires exploring new solutions, not getting stuck in what used to be correct.

A Mistake Tolerant Mindset requires embracing a trial-and-error approach. We must let go of the “This is not going to work” mentality–shift your mindset to “What if we try this…?”

No one knows what’s going to work until they try it.

3. Empathy Mindset:

Don’t fight resistance; use it as fuel for change.

I help changemakers overcome resistance to change. Most find it surprising when I tell them to stop fighting resistance. “Isn’t that why we hired you for?”

The paradox is that the more we want to defeat resistance, the stronger it becomes. People don’t resist change, per se. They resist being changed.

Resistance is a signal. If there’s no resistance, it’s because leaders are not pushing too hard. That’s the positive side of it.

Also, resistance is an expression of the losses associated with change. Instead of silencing it, leaders must first understand what’s going on. Are people afraid of losing face or control? Do they mourn lost competence, sense of belonging, or pride?

Work with your team to reframe the loss of change into a win. Help build an emotional bridge between where the company was and where it wants to be.

People are not the problem.

Engage them in the conversation. Not just to share your plans but to open up the floor to candid discussions. What does resistance say about your leadership style? What are the cultural tensions, and how can the team address those collectively?

An Empathy Mindset will help you understand the signal. Rather than blaming people for resisting change, use that resistance as fuel to move change forward.

4. Radical Candor Mindset:

Turn conflict into fuel for growth.

Conflict is neither good or bad. When managed poorly, it can harm collaboration and engagement.

Unfortunately, avoidance is a pervasive mindset. Leaders are afraid of addressing tensions but, conflict doesn’t go away. It gets worse if you don’t do anything about it.

Coaching organizations manage conflict; it feels ironic observing how and why it manifests. Most tensions start as simple, human misunderstandings. Small things quickly escalate because people hold grudges forever.

A Radical Candor Mindset is more than putting conflict out in the open. It requires creating the right conditions for people to feel safe to speak up. Also, it needs to focus on the task, not the person.

Most teams carry a Stinky Fish–the more they ignore it, the worse it will smell. Encourage people to share what everybody is thinking, but no-one is saying. Uncover the Stinky Fish.

Radical Candor is about helping people grow in a positive, caring way. You can challenge people without being a jerk. This mindset helps solve tensions in a healthy way.

5. Autonomy Mindset:

Let people make their choices.

Micromanagement is pervasive. Most senior executives consider themselves as great leaders, yet 79 percent of employees said they’d been victims of micromanagers.

In most cases, this behavior is driven by a need for survival, not just the desire to be in control. Disruption affects everyone, and managers are more afraid of losing their jobs than ever.

However, inaction can only make things worse. To thrive in the new economy, organizations must practice collective leadership. Every employee has the ability and responsibility to drive change. Everybody must lead “as one.”

Micromanagement is not scalable; between control and freedom lies interdependence. People value autonomy but also collaboration.

The most compelling motivation is internal, as Daniel Pink describes in his book Drive.

Our brains are wired to self-direct. We resist being told what to do; we want to feel in control. Your team wants autonomy to choose what they do, when and how they do it, and with whom.

Let people make their own choices.

Contrary to popular belief, autonomy drives accountability. It amplifies both freedom and responsibility. When we treat people as grownups, they behave as such.

When an organizational culture promotes autonomy, people feel more valued. Not only does it alleviate negative emotions, but it also makes the job more attractive. People are more loyal and productive when they feel in charge of their own destiny.

An Autonomy Mindset is the opposite of micromanagement. Let your people make their own choices.


The organizational mindsets determine your business success. What your employees think is what your company will become. Choose your mindset wisely.

Read more about mindsets:

How to Upgrade Your Mindset for Success

Shift Your Team’s Mindset: from Blockers to Amplifiers