Increase the Mental Toughness of Your Team.

Developing team potential has been a key component of business strategy for as long as we can remember and it features widely in leadership and management theory and practise.

It is interesting however that often many senior management teams who decide they want a team working culture developed within their organisation provide the least compelling example of team work.

We recognise the significant benefits of a highly effective team. They are committed to achieving goals and they accomplish complex tasks using each other’s strengths to cover any weaknesses within the team. They have high levels of performance and coach each other to assist with problem solving and innovation. Mental Toughness can have a big impact not only on the performance of the organisation itself, but on how team working and team building are developed.

Mental Toughness has been defined as the quality which determines in large part how people effectively deal with challenge, stressors and pressure (Clough and Strycharczyk 2012). In the 4Cs model the overall Mental Toughness is a product of 4 pillars:

·        Challenge – seeing challenge as an opportunity

·        Confidence – having high levels of self-belief

·        Commitment – being able to stick to tasks

·        Control – believing that you can control your own destiny.

It can be very effective for an organisation to set about improving the Mental Toughness of individuals within their organisation. However just because you have a group of Mentally Tough individuals does not mean you will have a Mentally Tough team or organisation. The challenge is to support the development of Mental Toughness across the team. An organisation needs to consider organisational development and culture but also team working behaviour. A mentally tough individual typically implies a degree of personal achievement, a tendency to be “thick skinned” and focused on performance, but a group of individuals with these qualities does not mean effective team work miraculously occurs.

There are a number of actions a team of Mentally Tough individuals can adopt that will enhance their capacity to work as an effective team. The key is to enhance self-awareness and the impact of actions on others to move from individual to group success. Consider potential actions under each of the 4Cs:


·        Review and prioritise work together.

·        Communicate with each other often and set mutual goals.

·        Recognise strengths and weaknesses within the team and delegate accordingly.

·        “Eat the elephant” and break down tasks into small manageable chunks.

·        Recognise the need for the team to practice balance and recharge as a team             when required.


·        Recognise each other’s strengths and use these accordingly.

·        Don’t dwell on or overgeneralise mistakes.

·        Manage any identified over-confidence.

·        Give feedback which leads to high performance – (constructive feedback is just         an oxymoron).

·        Give support when confidence is knocked.

·        Recognise mistakes are just “learns”.


·        Give positive feedback and praise often and recognise individual contributions.

·        Review resources and energy and assess how they can be best utilised.

·        Accept some tasks can’t be completed.

·        Identify sources of team motivation.

·        Agree on mutual goals and objectives.

·        Don’t be afraid to ask each other for help.

·        Listen to each other and ask lots of proactive questions.


·        Accept that setbacks can be a normal occurrence.

·        Allow individuals the time and space they need to recover from setbacks at their         own pace.

·        Work as a team to determine what is outside of your control and review steps to         be taken to circumvent the issues identified.

·        Agree on a mutual plan of action.


If a team is to be effective, it must have a shared sense of purpose, effective ways of working together despite individual differences, willingness to work together toward mutual effectiveness, personal independence and a collective identity.

Michelle Bakjac is an experienced Organisational Consultant, Coach, Speaker and Facilitator. As Director of Bakjac Consulting, she is a member of the International Coach Federation (ICF) and a member of Mental Toughness Partners and an MTQ48 accredited Mental Toughness practitioner.  Michelle assists individuals and organisations to develop their Mental Toughness to improve performance, behaviour and wellbeing.  You can find her at or