Why “Outward Mindset” will help you become a true Strategic Partner to your customers

As a Key Account Manager, your only goal should be help clients meet theirs.


It’s been a big couple years for mindset.


Stanford psychologist Carol Dweck introduced the term into the national zeitgeist by demonstrating the stark differences between a “fixed” and “growth” mindset. Drawing on reams of academic research, Dweck showed that having a growth mindset can propel us to become resilient, failure tolerant, and successful—while possessing a fixed mindset can leave us feeling defeated, incompetent, and even fraudulent.


Since then, growth mindset has been popping up everywhere—in schools, on podcasts, and at TED. Powerful stuff, to be sure, and critical for parents and CEOs alike.


But we at Kapta think another kind of mindset is even more important: outward mindset.


If growth mindset is about the beliefs we hold and stories we tell about ourselves, outward mindset is about how we move through the world. From the moment we wake up in the morning to when our head hits the pillow at night, the directionality of our mindset—inward vs. outward—shapes our reality. It affects our marriages, friendships, and work relationships. Outward mindset is a choice: it demands constant effort and intention. But its power to transform is profound.


The Arbinger Institute, which has written extensively about outward mindset, details the dichotomy simply.


When we move through the world with an inward mindset, our full attention is on the self. We are literally self-centered. Things happen to and around us. We view others “not as people with their own needs, challenges, and objectives, but as objects.” Our colleagues and clients become vehicles, obstacles, and irrelevancies, as we calculate how to use, avoid, or ignore them in pursuit of our own goals.


When we adopt an outward mindset, we turn our attention from self and direct it instead at others. Our colleagues and clients become “people who matter like we do,” as we take into account their needs, challenges, and objectives. An outward mindset, like the African philosophy of ubuntu, encourages us to see that “I am because we are”: my success is not separate from but indeed dependent on yours.


According to the Arbinger Institute, “With an outward mindset, organizations and individuals focus on collective results. They can have difficult conversations about resource allocation, roles, and responsibilities without feeling the need to protect their silos, defend their decisions, or appear in certain ways.”


Nowhere is outward mindset more critical than for Key Account Managers. In the day-to-day trenches of work life, it’s easy to adopt an inward mindset. We all have ambitions, goals, and deadlines. There are never enough hours in the day. Recognition, quarterly targets, and promotions can seem like a zero-sum game. But an inward mindset isn’t just lazy. It’s actually self-defeating.


At Kapta, we know that a Key Account Manager’s success depends first and foremost on the success of her most important clients. Like a trusted advisor, a Key Account Manager understands her client’s long-range goals and short-term KPIs, feels their pain points and strategic challenges, and brings an obsessive focus to making them look damn good.


If the client is successful, the Key Account Manager is successful. The rest is just noise.


Any experienced Key Account Manager, even if they’ve never heard the term “outward mindset,” is probably already practicing some of its tenets. At Kapta, we’re designing a platform to make it even easier. We can’t do the hardest part—changing the lens through which Key Account Managers view the world—but we can give them the tools to execute.


Kapta’s platform is built around our proprietary Action Plan tool, which helps Key Account Managers identify their customers’ strategic goals and outcomes. Kapta’s Action Plan allows users to:


  • Create clear, actionable plans based on those goals
  • Collaborate with team members on helping their customers achieve them
  • Provide real-time progress reports for internal and external teams


Outward mindset is a simple idea with unmistakable power. But like yoga or cello, it’s a practice. It doesn’t happen overnight, and it demands persistent effort. We at Kapta practice what we preach, and every day we strive to bring an outward mindset to our own client relationships.


We know that doing our best work means helping them do theirs.


CEO at Kapta
Alex Raymond is the CEO of Kapta.