Is Mental Toughness important?

Mental Toughness has been around for a number of years and is frequently used in the world of sport.  But in an organisational context – what is it and how much do we really know about it?

Mental Toughness is about an employee’s ability to deal with pressure / stress that they encounter on an day-to-day basis at work.  It is a quality that some people have, and others need to develop, which will enable them to continue to perform well during times of difficulty.

But why is being mentally tough important?  Evidence demonstrates that those with high levels of mental toughness:

  • perform better than their colleagues
  • have the drive and tenancity to see goals through to their completion.
  • have a “can-do” attitude
  • continually strive to optimise their potential
  • are more employable that those with less mental toughness
  • are more content in their lives and have better overall wellbeing

 A number of studies based in educational establishments have demonstrated that those students who have higher levels of mental toughness are less likely to “drop-out” and more likely to achieve higher grades.   There’s no reason why these outcomes cannot be applied to the workplace: lower staff turnover and higher productivity.

An assessment of an individual’s mental toughness can provide insight on their capacity to deal with stressful situations, which can be used in recruitment, restructuring or as part of someone’s personal development.   Those with low mental toughness can recieve coaching to help them develop strategies and tactics to help them (and their organisation) to perform when under pressure. 

The downside is that there is a danger of being “too mentally tough”.  Those who demonstrate extreme mental toughness are considered to be insenstive: they will achieve their goals and aspirations at the expense of their colleagues.  They may be considered a bully by the behaviour they demonstrate. The ideal scenario is an individual who can achieve that balance of performing well under pressure, but still able to display empathy.

As we enter a difficult period of transition in the public sector, the ability to be mentally tough will become more and more important.   And I suspect, more organisations are going to want to measure how mentally tough their staff actually are.   In a timely fashion, a  new psychometric test (MTQ48) has just come onto the market that measures mental toughness. 

If you want to know more about the MTQ48 and how it can be applied in your organisation, please contact me for more information.


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