Would you prefer to have a fixed mindset or a growth mindset? Even if you're not familiar with these terms, you could probably take a guess at which sounds better. That's right; growth. The growth mindset is responsible for innovative thinking breakthroughs all around the world. That may sound like a big claim, but it's true.

Intrapreneurs have been making business waves in recent years. The term refers to employees who act like entrepreneurs, but operate within a company. Rather than going out on their own to establish their own business or pursue an idea, intrapreneurs bring all the risk-taking and creative thinking of an entrepreneur and apply it to their daily job. 

A key pillar of intrepreneurism is a determination to learn, grow and try new things. These qualities are the fundamentals of a growth mindset. Understanding why this viewpoint is so important, and how intrapreneurs can inspire it in others, is a key step in the innovation journey of every business hoping to disrupt the market. 

The mindset scale 

Psychologist Carol Dweck is famed for her research into different mindsets and how they impact an individual's approach to work and life, which indicates that all humans exist on a mindset continuum. At one end is a fixed mindset, and at the other a growth mindset. The former refers to a person who views talent and intelligence as innate and unchangeable. Subsequently, those with a fixed mindset are far more likely to be deterred by failure. When you believe your ability can't be improved, challenges are daunting because mistakes appear to be fatal. 

Conversely, those with a growth mindset believe in their own ability to improve and enhance their natural talent and intelligence via hard work and persistence. Mistakes are viewed as hurdles, not dead ends. Having a growth mindset indicates an enthusiasm for challenges and a hunger for knowledge. Hence it's probably unsurprising that this is the mindset associated with success. It is also neurologically accurate; humans have brain plasticity which means we are able to adapt, learn and improve. 

In the beginning 

You've heard of nurture versus nature? Well, your mindset comes from your environment, not your genes. This is good news because it means that your attitude and beliefs can be changed. However, a lot of the ways children are taught actually ingrains a fixed mindset. This is because we teach children to find reward in the outcome, not the process. Our educational systems dwell on the dualities of pass or fail, good or bad. While some educators may be trying to introduce more nuance by emphasising progress, not just result, there is no denying that for most children a bad exam score is more likely to be disappointing than it is motivating. 

The difference can be as simple as saying, "you haven't reached your goal" rather than "you haven't reached your goal yet". That one word is powerful because it encapsulates the potential for development. Reversing the process can have a huge impact. Crucially, mindset is a scale. While you might exhibit more signs of a fixed viewpoint in some areas, you may just surprise yourself by being open to growth and change in others. Learning by example is one of the best ways to improve - and that's where intrapreneurs come in. 

Intrapreneurs and team growth 

Intrapreneurs naturally possess a growth mindset. This is the reason they are so beneficial to a company; their belief in progress drives them to seek out change. They face challenges head-on and see things not as they are, but how they could be. Intrapreneurs are not daunted by mistakes or failure as they know these things are both learning curves and stepping stones to later successes.  

Placing intrapreneurs in leadership roles will have positive implications for the creativity of their surrounding teams. Intrapreneurs set a good example; while some managers may dodge criticism and avoid feedback, intrapreneurs will actively seek it. They thrive off constructive criticism and soon the rest of the team will to boot. 

Just as an emphasis on success can lead children to avoid failure, managers who highlight the importance of process begin to shift team members' perception in a new, positive direction. Intrapreneurs (like their entrepreneurial counterparts) are infamous for creating a ‘no blame' culture, which in itself helps employees learn to prize the value of ideas, even when they don't pan out. 

Innovative leaders inspire innovative employees. By establishing some managerial intrapreneurs in your business, you'll soon see an influx of ideas, a drive to keep moving and progression which aligns with the restless and enthusiastic minds of the growth-seeking intrapreneurs. 

Written by Chris Griffiths with Caragh Medlicott. Chris is a world-leading creativity expert and creator of the app www.ayoa.com - a platform used by top thinkers to boost productivity.