By Mario McKellop

A sudden economic downturn, the imposition of new government regulations or a spike in material costs are all factors that can affect a business’s performance that cannot be controlled. However, one thing executives and founders can do to help their companies’ persevere in the face of those challenges is to cultivate a team that has grit.

What is Grit?

In psychological terms, grit refers to the ability to be tenacious in the face of adversity. Those who possess grit have reservoirs of internal strength they can call upon to achieve irrespective of intelligence, talent or skill. In recent years, grit has taken on increased significance in academia as studies have shown that cultivating the trait in students can help improve learning outcomes.

The concept of grit went mainstream with the 2016 publication of educator and psychologist Angela Duckworth’s “Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance.” The best-selling book received a raft of positive reviews, including one from the New York Times that discussed how some of the book’s strategies could be applied in the business world to increase operational efficiency and profitability.

How to Spot Grit in Potential Team Members

As it exists separately from more easily measurable qualities like intelligence, it can be difficult to quantify grit. However, by looking for other similar traits, an executive can determine whether or not a potential team member possesses true grit. Forbes notes that individuals with a surfeit of grit are also likely to have a great deal of self-control. They are also remarkably conscientious, resilient and have a high degree of fearlessness.

How to Cultivate Grit within the C-Suite

One of the more intriguing aspects of grit is that it isn’t an innate psychological trait. With the right environment, a good executive can cultivate grit within her team. To do so, it’s important for a company to embrace transparency as a core value. This will allow for the creation of conditions where collaboration is optimized through the free and direct expression of ideas.

Additionally, by creating a host of operational routines, strictly enforcing best practices and recognizing individual achievements, an executive can develop a company culture that promotes conscientiousness and will instill a sense of intrapreneurship.

Ultimately, a company with a c-suite made up of gritty executives isn’t guaranteed to succeed. However, a firm that is led by tenacious self-motivated achievers has an obvious competitive advantage over a business with less resolute leadership.

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