We often wonder what makes someone a good leader, or why some people accomplish their goals while others don’t. Usually, during normal times we have leadership in mind.
However, what happens when leaders must face unprecedented crises and must take fast and accurate decisions that may determine the future of the organisation?
What makes the difference between a good leader and a great leader?
Frequently, we answer these questions by talking about the ‘talent’ of top performers, however, we all know there is more to the story than that.
In fact, your talent and your intelligence don’t play nearly as big of a role as you might think. Most research studies suggest that intelligence only accounts for 30% of your achievement. So, what makes a bigger impact than talent or intelligence?
The answer is Mental Toughness!
Recent research revealed that mental toughness plays a more important role than anything else for achieving your goals in health, business, and life. That’s good news because you can’t do much about the genes you were born with, but you can do a lot to develop your mental toughness.
According to Wikipedia, Mental Toughness is a measure of an individual’s resilience and confidence that may predict success in sports, education and the workplace.
Mental Toughness is a personality trait that determines one’s ability to perform consistently under stress and pressure, and is closely related to qualities such as character, resilience, grit and perseverance.
As a broad concept, it emerged in the context of sports training, or in the context of a set of attributes that allows a person to become a better athlete, enabling them to become able to cope with difficult training and difficult competitive situations, and emerge without losing confidence.
If these are skills typically associated with athletics, how can they apply to the workplace? As it turns out, there’s a lot of commonality between the traits that make a successful athlete and a successful employee. Just as successful athletes excel at balancing the demands of training, travel, and competition while still maintaining focus and confidence, mentally tough employees will be better at coping with a stressful work environment.
In 2019, a study using a personality assessment identified six personality traits of professional athletes that define mental toughness. This study also highlighted that the traits that make up mental toughness and predict athletic success are some of the same traits seen in the most successful business professionals.
So, where do we start?
At TTM, we believe that behaviour drives employee performance and we focus on changing behaviours. In order to do this, we need to understand how behaviour happens and what influences it. According to Kurt Lewin, often recognised as the “founder of social psychology” and one of the first to study group dynamics and organisational development, both ‘nature’ and ‘nurture’ interact to shape a person’s behaviour. This means that behaviour is a function of the person (including their personality) in their environment.
Personality can be defined as an individual’s characteristic pattern of thinking, feeling, and acting and one’s personality can explain individual differences and how individuals act in specific situations. Mental Toughness is a personality trait which describes mind-set. It examines what is in the mind of the individual to explain the way why they behave the way they do. So, there is an obvious link between mind-set and behaviour.
Mental Toughness describes the mind-set that every person adopts in everything they do; it explains why people and organisations behave the way they do.
Furthermore, research and case studies from around the world show that Mental Toughness is a major factor in most of the important outcomes for individuals and organisations such as:
Performance – explaining up to 25% of the variation in performance in individuals. Mentally tough people deliver more, work more purposefully, show greater commitment to purpose and are more competitive. This translates into better output, delivery on time and on target and better attendance.
Wellbeing – Mentally tough people show better stress management, better attendance, are less likely to develop mental health issues, sleep better and they can take stress in their stride.
Positive Behaviour – Mentally tough people are more engaged, positive, have a more “can do” attitude, respond positively to change, are more likely contribute to a positive culture and accept responsibility.
Openness to Learning – Mentally tough people are more ambitious and prepared to manage more risk.
For these reasons being mentally tough for an individual or an organisation is immensely important, especially in times of great change. Leaders, aspiring leaders and those working in stressful, unforgiving occupations or in situations of uncertainty or dynamic change need to be mentally tough.