Pages Menu

Is your team mentally tough?

Posted on Nov 12, 2017

Is your team mentally tough?

Are you currently able to look around at your team members and identify those who have higher levels of mental toughness and those who are more mentally sensitive?

Mental toughness is basically a mindset that a person adopts in everything they do and determines how they perform under stress and pressure irrespective of the prevailing circumstances. It is more than resilience alone. If resilience is our ability to “survive”, then mental toughness is our ability to “thrive”.

In the 4 Cs framework of mental toughness, it has been identified that – control, commitment, challenge and Ccnfidence – allow us to recognise the traits that make up a mentally tough individual.

Our current working environments are more challenging than ever. VUCA (volatility, uncertainty, complexity, ambiguity) often reigns supreme and we are all doing more with less.

Mental health costs Australian businesses $10 billion per year in lost productivity and $4.7 billion in absenteeism and $6.1 billion in presenteeism. It has become even more important for us to build not only our own resilience and mental toughness, but also identify how our teams are managing.

When individuals have higher levels of mental toughness we see:

  • Improved productivity
  • Improved attitude and behaviour
  • Increased wellbeing
  • Increased ability to manage stress
  • Better sleep
  • Improved ability to manage change
  • Reduced absenteeism
  • Greater engagement
  • A more “can do” attitude
  • Volunteering for challenging work tasks.

So, what are you looking for to identify if your team has high levels of mental toughness?

Emotional Control

  • They feel they shape what happens to them
  • Are able to manage their own emotions
  • Understand and recognise other people’s emotions and know how to manage them
  • Difficult to provoke or annoy
  • Do not get anxious or angry easily.
  • Stay calm in a crisis
  • Keep a broader perspective on things

Life Control

  • Believe they can make a difference
  • Are comfortable to do several different things at once
  • Good at planning and time management
  • Good at prioritising
  • Prepared to work hard to clear blockages from their path
  • Happy to take on multiple commitments
  • Believe they can define what needs to be done.
  • See the solution rather than the problem


  • Like setting clearly defined goals
  • Use goals to define what their success will look like
  • They set goals that are translated into something which is achievable
  • Tend to be more objective
  • Will break things down into manageable chunks
  • Maintain focus
  • Will prioritise effort and activities
  • Have a sense of purpose


  • See challenges as opportunities rather than threats
  • Can provoke change and continuous improvement.
  • Enjoy problem solving
  • Happy to commit to projects
  • Enjoy healthy competition
  • Work hard

Have Confidence in Their Ability

  • Have little need for external validation – an internal locus of control
  • Are happy to ask questions and seek advice
  • Provide full and clear responses
  • See feedback as a positive opportunity
  • See competence and excellence in others as a form of motivation
  • Draw their experiences into what they do.

Interpersonal Confidence

  • Will stand their ground
  • Will engage in discussion
  • Can be more risk oriented
  • Are happy to ask for support
  • Are not shy in coming forward
  • Enjoy working in a group of like-minded individuals
  • Engage easily

We have the opportunity to develop our own mental toughness and that of our team members. It can be learned but it does require practice and dedicated effort.

By combining use of the MTQ48 psychometric assessment (to measure mental toughness and provide self-awareness) with a programme of targeted interventions, staff will be better prepared for what life ‘throws at them’ and be able to bounce back from setbacks and gain confidence to thrive in the face of challenges.

Michelle Bakjac is a director of Bakjac Consulting. She is a psychologist, wellbeing strategist, leadership and wellbeing coach, speaker and facilitator.