Unbroken Resolve

"Today's Leadership Development Determines Tomorrow's Success."

The Value of Developing Grit in Your Team


Team competing in a tug-of-war

Have you considered the importance of developing grit in yourself and your team? Far beyond all other indicators, grit is perhaps the most crucial as well as the most underestimated factors of success.


Angela Duckworth, a pioneering academic and psychologist at the University of Pennsylvania, is best known for her research on this personality trait. She defines grit as “passion and perseverance for long-term goals.”


Her research has proved that grit is a more effective predictor of success than IQ, social intelligence, or leadership potential. This is evidenced by her several case studies.


For instance, West Point cadets who scored higher in grit questionnaires are 60% more likely to complete the dreaded fourth week of Basic Conditioning known as ‘Hell Week.’


Duckworth also gauged National Spelling Bee competitors on a scale of grit. Those with more grit outperformed their peers who even had higher IQs.


Grit is a crucial indicator of success, not only in school, but also in business and other fields. Most annual reviews cover qualities like effective communication, leadership skills, risk taking and result-orientation. However, there is no assessment for grit. So, what’s the reason behind this glaring omission?


Contrary too many of our presuppositions, grit is more important than other qualities. Grit can take you and your team further towards achieving organizational and personal goals than any other quality. If you are still not clear on grit, know that it can be best described by the idiom, “it’s a marathon, not a sprint.”


So, let’s discuss the value of grit and how you can develop it in your team.


The Value of Grit

Grit is the great equalizer that levels the playing field. In all walks of life, grit serves as a measure that does not correlate with structural inequities or financial or intellectual background.


Not that these other factors don’t affect success. But grit remains crucial at giving a competitive edge to even those who are not “naturally talented” or privileged.


Grit is all about the chutzpah and audacity to recover from setbacks and face adversity with open, determined eyes to achieve success. It isn’t about luck, talent, or good looks. Instead, it’s about finding meaningful goals and deep values in your work and fighting hard to achieve your goals.


Examples of Success Through Sheer Grit

To give you a brief illustration of how grit has led people to success, let’s look at a few famous examples.


Abraham Lincoln

The great leader of our nation during the Civil War and engineer of the Emancipation Proclamation did not have an easy life.


He went to war as a young captain but returned a private (the lowest rank in the military). Despite the setback, Lincoln never faltered. He started several businesses, went bankrupt twice, and was defeated in 26 campaigns for public office. We all know him now as one of the greatest leaders of our country.


J.K. Rowling

We are all aware of the Harry Potter books and its billionaire author J. K. Rowling. Before her success, she was nearly destitute, severely depressed, and divorced, trying to raise a child on her own while attending school and writing a novel.


12 publishers rejected her first Harry Potter book. However, through sheer perseverance and genuine creativity, Rowling went from living on benefits to being named the first billionaire author by Forbes.


These are just a couple of the famous examples of the value of grit and how it can lead people to extraordinary success. So, how can you go about developing grit in yourself and your team?


How to Develop a Gritty Team

As a business leader, you will face many obstacles and pitfalls in your journey. Therefore, you need to maintain a sense of grit. This will aid you on your journey and encourage the same culture of grit amongst your employees.


Grit will separate you and your team from the competition. Here are a few ways you can develop grit in your team:


1. Invigorate through focus and perseverance

To develop grit in your team, you must encourage an environment where the focus is paramount. Endless multitasking and lack of focus are huge inhibitors to success. There are limits to time and energy, and focusing on one task means focusing less on others.

You can’t master everything, so recognizing your goals and focusing your efforts on them is key. But to foster grit as a leader of your team requires effort, perseverance, and clear focus to see your collective goals through to the end.


2. Develop a Growth Mindset

According to Stanford psychologist Carol Dweck, people can be differentiated on a scale according to their implicit views about where ability comes from.


In Mindset: The New Psychology of Success, she writes that some people believe in innate ability. These individuals have a “fixed” theory of intelligence, i.e., a fixed mindset. By contrast, others see success as an outcome of hard work, learning, training, and tenacity. These individuals are said to have a “growth” or “incremental” theory of intelligence; this is also known as having a growth mindset.


This difference manifests itself in reactions to failure. People with a fixed mindset are nervous about failure because they see it as a negative marker of their abilities. In contrast, people with a growth mindset aren’t afraid of failure. They realize that their performance can be improved, and failure brings with it only lessons to learn.


According to Dweck, having a growth mindset will allow people to live a less stressful and more successful life.


A growth mindset is also key to develop grit in your team. You should foster a growth mindset, identify fixed mindsets among your team members, and help them change their perception about ability.


3. Use Setbacks to Your Advantage

Following from the previous point, learning to take advantageous lessons from failure is key to having a positively gritty mindset. Gritty people look at failure as momentary and maintain their efforts despite adversity or obstacles.


Leaders with grit see failure as a stepping stone to go further. This perspective has contributed significantly to many people’s success; they learn from their failures and pick themselves up and apply what they have learned consistently.


You can apply this culture in your team. It isn’t easy to be gritty in the face of negativity. So, give your team a positive attitude towards failure. Don’t judge your team members too harshly and instead involve all team members whenever a failure has occurred so that they can all learn from it.


Be open to problem-solving and maneuvering through obstacles with the help of your team. If they are genuinely part of the process, they will feel more at ease to share their input and be more responsible. Believe in yourself, your team, and their ideas.


4. Get Yourself Dirty in the Trenches

One of the defining characteristics of gritty leaders is their willingness to get into the thick of it and spend time “in the trenches” with their team. To succeed as a team, the leader has to lead by example and set examples.


Team members often get motivated by seeing their leader working alongside them and persevering with them through difficulties. This way, you can also get rid of the gap between the ideas generated by the team and their execution by being involved and providing timely guidance.


Spending time and executing tasks alongside your team and managing issues directly with clients or customers can build strength and resilience among your team members.


5. Look Favorably Upon Initiatives

Embracing grit as a part of your work culture means looking favorably upon initiatives and showing gratitude. You want to find people willing to experiment and take risks while being open about the challenges they face.


By fostering a culture of rewarding initiatives, you can boost employees to step up and achieve things that they didn’t know they were capable of. This culture can help the company move forward while providing you the support you didn’t expect.


6. Avoid a Culture of Fear

Having a culture of fear is one of the biggest pitfalls towards fostering grit and confidence in your team. Those who are afraid of how failure will impact their reviews or advancement prospects will be reluctant to take risks and admit that they’ve failed. They will also be unable to learn from failure.


So, what’s the alternative? For starters, you should recognize when someone is operating from a sense of fear and help them overcome it. Push them, and show them your support. Give them time and empower them to test their ideas, improve upon them, and learn from setbacks.


This will help build grit as well as confidence in your team, which is your most precious resource for achieving continual successes.


7. Create Short-Term and Long-Term Goals for Your Team

Finally, outlining short-term and long-term goals for your team will set their eyes on the target and help them remain motivated. If the goals are unclear, your team may lose its grit and determination in the process.


Involve all team members when outlining goals. Take their recommendations and input, but set high standards for them. The goals themselves should never be unattainable. They should always be clear, precise, achievable, yet demanding at the same time.


With every success in achieving a short-term or long-term goal, acknowledge, celebrate, and reward the effort. Doing so will help maintain a positive sense of grit in your team, showing them that hard work doesn’t go unacknowledged.


Finding Purpose Through Reflection

One of the key methods for developing grit is by finding your personal and collective purpose. Purpose provides the meaning to what you do and connects your work to your core values.


As Duckworth writes, grit means, “working on something you care about so much that you’re willing to stay loyal to it,” Her study of 16,000 people determined that those with higher levels of grit are “dramatically more motivated than others to seek a meaningful, other-centered life.”


Your team’s work should connect with their interests as well as cater to the wellbeing of others. If there are ways in which you and your team members can benefit the surrounding, the wider community, it will enhance their development of grit and purpose.


Finding a purpose comes through reflection. Consider how your leadership, work, skills, or knowledge benefit a person, your team, and even the greater society. Once you acknowledge these matters, you will put in more time and effort through added motivation.


Similarly, encourage a culture of reflection in your team and ask them to write down what they want their life to amount to and what their goals in life are. If you can shape your team and workflow according to their innermost strengths and desires, you can boost their grittiness, resolve, and sense of responsibility. Remember: meaningful work means successful work!


Reflection should also include deeply reflecting on failures and holistically understanding their causes. Encourage your team to learn from mistakes; hone their awareness of the path taken to recover from mistakes. Teach them how they can avoid mistakes. You can also use this time to recognize weaknesses and develop strategies for working on them.


Since grit is such a valuable quality and an effective indicator of long-term success, it is crucial to develop and maintain this quality in yourself and your team.


Making efforts to develop and encourage a sense of grittiness in your workforce will allow them to reach above and beyond what you expected.


So, how gritty are your leadership and your team? Do you need some help to reach that point? Get in touch today to learn about our coaching services, keynote speaking, seminars, workshops, and webinars.


Our professional consultancy can help you develop grit in your team so that you can create the work culture to achieve the goals that you’ve always wanted and more!



Craig Ratliff

Unbroken Resolve