Growing Grit: A Powerful Tool for High Performing Teams
Chamber Updates, Leadercast

by Ashley Glensor, Programs & Marketing Specialist, Lancaster Chamber

Leadercast -The One Thing is only a few days away, featuring ten of world’s most influential and acclaimed leaders. Each speaker will share one specific aspect of leadership that makes a leader worth following. Leadercast is a fantastic opportunity to invest in the emerging leaders on your team and hear strategies that may shape how you lead in your organization.  

I, personally, am quite excited for Leadercast. Although only my second time attending Leadercast, I love learning and enjoy the post-event discussion that follows among the Lancaster Chamber team on the practical application of the topics shared.  

I am most looking forward to hearing from Angela Duckworth, one of the ten chosen for this year’s event. Angela’s best-selling book, Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance, released in 2016, provides data-driven insights into developing the perseverance and passion – grit – necessary for high achievement. I jumped at the opportunity to revisit Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance as Leadercast approaches, particularly at a time when we are emerging from the past two years feeling, perhaps, a little grittier than before.  

So, what drives our success in the face of seemingly insurmountable challenges? Angela’s premise is that grit, a culmination of passion and perseverance, is one of the top predictors of success, outweighing talent in significance. While talent is factored into the equation as a determinant of how quickly improvement can occur, effort – grit – is twice as valuable to developing productive skills.  

I think we could all agree that we’ve demonstrated remarkable levels of perseverance in navigating COVID-19, a tight labor market, and supply chain challenges, but how do we capture that short-term response, infuse our workplaces with passion, and transform it into high performance across our organizations? Angela Duckworth’s research points to several key practices to integrate into our workplaces: 

  • Cultivate a passionate workforce. Harvard Business Review writes, “People want to be passionate about what they do, and they want to be surrounded by people who are also passionate about what they do.” Utilize feedback from your employees to capitalize on their interests.  
  • Tailor your employees’ roles and responsibilities in ways that maximize what they are most passionate about in your organization. We don’t spend every minute of every day completing tasks that we’re passionate about, but productivity and performance increase when employees are in the role that best aligns with their passions, interests, and skills – and provides flexibility to evolve and grow over time.   
  • Create purposeful work. Communicate your organization’s purpose in terms of how you benefit the broader community. As social beings, we possess an innate desire to connect with and help others, especially in our work. Ensure that your employees understand how their goals fit into the overarching mission and purpose of the organization. Offer opportunities to your employees to engage with the community in a way that is aligned with your organization’s mission, vision, values, and goals.  
  • Encourage employees to commit your company’s core values to memory and recognize employees for demonstrating your company’s mission, vision, values, and goals in their actions or behaviors. Angela notes, “The way we do things around here and why eventually becomes the way I do things and why.” In an environment where purpose is communicated frequently and value-driven behavior is evident, employees are more likely to shift from career to calling.   
  • Invest in intentional opportunities to grow and develop your employees. A culture of development enriches the workplace for all employees through conversations and shared learning. Development plans are a great tool to identify growth opportunities for your employees. Challenge your employees with clearly defined stretch goals.  
  • High performance is achieved, in part, through deliberate practice and flow. Focus on development opportunities that address the specific challenges facing your employee. As your employees grow, celebrate their successes. Recognition of a job well done rewards your employees with the feeling of “flow” (further discussed in Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us by Daniel Pink) and accomplishment, which both serve as valuable reinforcement for pursuing new challenges. 
  • Embrace a growth mindset and view failure as a learning opportunity. Organizations that adopt a growth mindset foster innovation and optimism. Angela declares that grit and a growth mindset are inextricably intertwined. Without a growth mindset, people are unprepared to recover from failure.  
  • How we respond to setbacks is crucial in promoting a growth mindset among our employees. Adam Grant shares in Think Again: The Power of Knowing What You Don’t Know, “Discovering I was wrong felt joyful because it meant I’d learned something.” As leaders, we must set an example and demonstrate that we truly believe people – including ourselves – can learn, adapt, and improve. 

Since Grit was published in 2016, Angela’s research continued. While Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance remains a valuable resource for leaders, I am curious to learn about new developments in her work, and if any data emerged from the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. If there’s a time to hear more about what Angela Duckworth has to say, it’s now.  

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