Mental Toughness

by Doug Strycharczyk

Common questions

  1. What difference can Mental Toughness bring to the individual or the organisation?
  2. Is Mental Toughness all about stress management?
  3. Is it good to have a high level of Mental Toughness?
  4. Is there a difference between resilience and Mental Toughness.
  5. Are there gender differences in Mental Toughness?
  6. Is there a relationship between Mental Toughness and position in the organisation?

 

1. What difference can Mental Toughness bring to the individual or the organisation?

Although Mental Toughness has only recently been defined, there have already been studies which show that in areas such as education, call centres, the police force, the public sector and manufacturing, there is a positive relationship between Mental Toughness and

  • Well-being
  • The ability to manage stress
  • Performance in the workplace.

Another major study has shown that bullying is less prevalent where the workforce is more mentally tough.

Other studies in the workplace and in education show that the more mentally tough a person is, the better they learn. This indicates that if measures were taken to enhance their Mental Toughness before they embarked on a training or development programme, most people would deliver better results.

We now know, therefore, that enhancing Mental Toughness can offer significant benefits to any organisation.

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2. Is Mental Toughness all about stress management?

The concept of Mental Toughness helps us to understand how we deal with stressors and challenge. Responding to a demand for peak performance is simply a form of challenge. So our level of Mental Toughness also exerts a major influence over the extent to which we are able to perform to the best of our abilities.

Mental Toughness can be described as providing the link between peak performance and stress management – you can’t operate to the best of your abilities unless you deal effectively with stress and challenge.

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3. Is it good to have a high level of Mental Toughness?

Mental Toughness is the quality which determines, in some part, how we deal with stressors, pressure and challenge.

Where there is a lot of pressure or challenge, then a high level may be desirable. However, many people operate in less stressful circumstances than these and the appropriate level of Mental Toughness is really all that is required.

People who have very high levels of Mental Toughness can also be mentally insensitive (which in part explains their Mental Toughness). However, this can give rise to specific personal development needs, particularly when such people have to work directly with others.

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4. Is there a difference between Resilience and Mental Toughness?

There is: Mental Toughness is a wider concept.

Resilience is usually described in terms of Control and Commitment. These are only two of the four scales in Mental Toughness.

The missing – and vitally  important – scales are Challenge and Confidence. In fact research shows that, although an independent scale, the level of Confidence can have a significant impact on Resilience.

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5. Are there gender differences in Mental Toughness?

Research shows that within a particular population there is no statistical difference in overall Mental Toughness between male and female responses.

On one of the scales – the confidence scale – males tend to score slightly higher on confidence in abilities, while females score slightly higher on interpersonal confidence, but the differences are not statistically significant.

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6. Is there a relationship between Mental Toughness and position in the organisation?

A major study (2007) has shown that there is a strong positive relationship between Mental Toughness and seniority. The more senior you are, the higher your Mental Toughness score is likely to be.

Typically, the more senior you are as a manager, the greater the complexity of the issues with which you need to deal, the greater the pressure to perform (particularly through others) and the greater the possibility of setbacks and problems.

Mental Toughness can help in all of these areas.

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