Do Your Employees Have Grit? Here Are Five Ways To Build Mental Toughness

April 21, 2016

I cover work-life balance, leadership, and executive health.

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We all know someone who crumbles at the first sign of pressure. Whether it’s at the gym, ball field, home or work. Rather than finding the will to fight through adversity to achieve a goal, they give up and call it a day. This is not a trait you want in employees. But it’s hard to know if someone has the grit and determination to finish a challenging project or the resilience to push forward when something goes wrong just from an interview.

Some of your employees will have mental strength and others won’t. Here are five ways leaders can help every employee develop the mental toughness that success requires.

1. Focus on the mission. It’s your job as the leader of an organization to align employees around a common purpose. Set big goals for your company and give your staff something to aspire to. No one is going to dig deep to help an organization be average. If you want your staff to have the grit needed to make your organization great, then you have to inspire that greatness.

Each staff member has to want to be excellent in his or her role. In order to spark that desire, make sure employees understand how their role fits into the organization and the importance of their role in the organization. It’s also important that employees know and believe in the mission the organization. For example, TOMS Shoes has the mission to make life more comfortable. Not just for its customers but also for people in need around the world. It built a One-for-One business model that started by giving a pair of shoes to a person in need for every pair of shoes purchased. Now the company has expanded to eyewear, coffee and backpacks. The business has thrived, in part, because its employees know that they are making a difference in the world.

2. Encourage exercise. Successful business leaders understand that exercise helps them be more productive on the job because it improves mental health as well as physical health. Studies have shown that exercise can be very effective at reducing fatigue, lowering stress, improving concentration and boosting productivity. Exercise can also help employees build mental toughness by learning how to keep going even when they are physically exhausted. “If you can overcome your self-limitations in the gym, then it should be routine to do the same in your occupation,” says Michael Myers, a personal trainer and fitness instructor who owns Beverly Hills, CA-based Michael Myers Fit.

Business leaders should set the example and encourage employees to take care of themselves. You can open a company gym or reimburse employees a percentage of their gym membership. Implement walking meetings. These meetings are the perfect setting for staff members to troubleshoot a problem or brainstorm ideas. Not only does walking get employees away from their desk for a little bit of fresh air and exercise, it can also improve creative thinking.