Development Required: What Lies Beneath?

Many Competency or Leadership frameworks give us a list of behaviours which are considered to be the examples of how to be good, great even, at our roles. What these lists often don’t do is help break down the underpinning development areas needed to change and ‘bring out’ new behaviours and habits; often the key to this development can lie quite deep within us.

In my work with Leaders in a wide variety of sectors, organisations & cultures, both as a facilitator and coach, there are a small number of themes that come up repeatedly.

One of these is the matter of Resilience or ‘Mental Toughness’ and it is concerned with the multiple challenges faced on a daily basis as leaders deal with delivering performance and growth in their organisations against a backdrop of an ever uncertain and unpredictable future.

In his book ‘The Inner Game of Tennis’ by Tim Gallwey there is a focus on this topic and outlined by this quote from the book:

“In every human endeavour there are two arenas of engagement: the outer and the inner. The outer game is played on an external arena to overcome external obstacles to reach an external goal. The inner game takes place within the mind of the player and is played against such obstacles as fear, self-doubt, lapses in focus, and limiting concepts or assumptions. The inner game is played to overcome the self-imposed obstacles that prevent an individual or team from accessing their full potential.”

Within the relative ‘safety’ of confidential coaching conversations many individuals open up with the realisation that they are usually ‘coping’ with the pressure of their role rather than building their competence to literally ‘get on top’ of how they react and deal with these pressures and in turn, support their teams to do the same.

So how do we go about changing our ability to be more resilient, whilst keeping all of our other plates spinning?

Again from experience and many conversations in this area with leaders, one of the first things we all should do is to create time and space for ourselves to think and reflect what our needs might be. We could also talk with a ‘buddy’, mentor, coach or critical friend so as to marshal our thoughts and get some real clarity about how resilient we are, how we are ‘coping’ with the demands of our jobs and life roles and start to reflect and think about what we might need to change.

There are frameworks to help with this analysis; for example in their book “Mental Toughness”, Adrian Moorhouse and Professor Graham Jones outline 4 key areas that, from research, make up the resilient individual.

These areas are our ability to:

  • Keep focused on the job in hand
  • Maintain an inner motivation about what we are trying to achieve
  • Develop our Self-Belief to be strong in the face of setbacks and
  • Manage the way we react to and deal with pressure

Developing one or more of these can build resilience with confidence and the ability to perform effectively despite what the world or our organisation throws at us.