The Importance of Grit

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Since the dawn of time, researchers have been in search of the secret
attributes of those that are successful and those that are not.
Surprising for many is that a person’s IQ or root intelligence alone is
not sufficient. Daniel Goleman, PhD has argued for over a decade that
emotional intelligence competencies or human competencies are the keys
to achievement. One of the competencies highlight by Dr. Goleman as
essential is persistence, also known as grit.

or the ability to persevere and stick with something until it’s
completed, may be one of the most significant indicators of achievement
according to researchers. West Point, the US Military Academy, is very
concerned with the turnover of its cadets. It has found through
assessments, that grit is the biggest indicator of success beating out
high school class rank, SAT scores, faculty recommendations, and
athletic achievement. It’s so important that every incoming cadet is
tested at the start of the year.

If grit can be so influential
on an person’s achievement, how can managers mentor their employees to
develop this competency? Here are a few thoughts.

  1. Promote optimism
    – optimists have greater ability to stick to a difficult path that
    leads to a positive future. Emphasizing a positive outlook, keeps focus
    up to the horizon.
  2. Criticize constructively
    – developing grit involves learning from missteps. That growth can only
    happen when management feedback is balanced and includes discussion of
    an employee’s initiative, success, and areas of improvement.
  3. Challenge – creating attainable, but demanding work goals push people and allow them to see success.
  4. Practice grit – people learn through modeling and if their leaders practice grit, so will they.
  5. Encourage success
    – traditionally, managers aimed to create well rounded employees.
    Today, attention is being redirected at focusing on what people do well
    and encouraging it instead of dwelling on their deficits.
  6. Passionate pursuit
    – it’s simple to chase a passion and helping an employee find theirs
    and setting them on a course to reach it makes it easier for them to
    overcome obstacles
  7. Deal with and learn from failure
    – Failing is hard, but hose that go on to succeed go through the
    grieving stages when they do, then learn from the experience, and get
    up and get going.

Developing grit in your employees may be the
single best skill set you can give them. Turning every interaction into
a grit building session can go along way toward creating a resilient
and unstoppable team. Take the time, make the effort, and make grit a
part of your management toolbox.

Re-purposed from an article originally published in Management Focus.