Thank you for listening to The Champion Forum Podcast with Jeff Hancher. Ever wonder why nothing seems to rattle great leaders? The best leaders are tough-minded; they keep moving toward their goals regardless of the ridicule or conflict they may face. Mental toughness is not necessarily something all leaders born with, but it is always something that you can learn. If you are going to excel and transcend in leadership, allow your tough mind and tender heart to work together. Remember, you cannot be too much of one thing and not enough of the other. You must find balance in everything—in your personal life, in business, and especially in effective leadership.
“In any moment of decision, the best thing you can do is the right thing, the next best thing is the wrong thing, and the worst thing you can do is nothing.” – Theodore Roosevelt
Great Leaders Are:
Tough-minded on focus and tenderhearted in flexibility.
Tough-minded on values and tenderhearted in appreciation.
Tough-minded on standards and tenderhearted about purpose.
Tough-minded on accountability and tenderhearted in admiration.
5 Habits of Tough-Minded leaders
1. They manage their emotions
Mentally tough people never wear their emotions on their sleeves. They wait until it is safe to share their feelings.
They choose to open up with people they trust and whose support they can count on.
They can control their emotions in situations where it might be seen as a sign of weakness and turned against them.
Tough-minded leaders are laser-focused on the mission, not the problem.
Q: What situations tend to make you the most emotional? Do you find it easier to dissociate from challenges at work or at home? Describe a strategy that you use to maintain control of your emotions.
2. They have self-confidence
Most tough-minded leaders are not born confident. They develop confidence over time by moving beyond their fears.
Building confidence will require you to push through discomfort and do things you have never done before.
Self-confident leaders take calculated risks.
Q: What are some qualities that you see in confident leaders? Describe a time when you were led by a leader who was not confident. How did that impact the group’s performance?
3. They choose their friends and confidants carefully
Mentally tough people hang out with other positive-thinkers and trailblazers who share similar goals.
They support one another and celebrate each other’s achievements.
Whenever they are surrounded by negativity, they tune it out.
This takes practice, but it is the only way to prevent negative people from draining your valuable time and energy.
To be tough-minded, you must surround yourself with successful, like-minded people. These relationships will help you guard your thoughts and sanity when you are faced with overwhelming negativity.
Q: What differences do you see in yourself when you are working with positive or negative people? Which situation do you prefer and why? Why do you think it can be hard to separate yourself from negative people?
4. They say “no”
Many people say “yes” even when they do not want to do something. Then they regret it and complain afterward.
Tough-minded people have learned the value of saying NO.
They can say no without feeling guilty, hedging their answers, or making excuses. This proves that they are not pushovers and should not be approached with unreasonable demands.
Don’t ever let the fear of losing someone in your organization cause you to compromise this principle. You will lose people over this, and it is ok.
However, if you lack standards and boundaries, you will be controlled by your employees and customers. This is not the way business should work!
Be a leader that is fair, firm, and consistent at all times. This creates a brand and a leadership culture that will help you avoid many unnecessary discussions and explanations about your standards.
Q: Why do you think that people have a hard time saying “no”? Have you ever said “no” even when you felt pressure to say “yes”? What was the result of the situation?
5. They don’t compare themselves to others
Leaders who develop mental toughness do not pay attention to what other people think about them.
They are motivated and driven by their goals, not how well they measure up to others.
You should respect others’ opinions, but you also need to take full responsibility for your decisions.
Mentally tough leaders measure themselves based on their personal development over time.
Q: Do you compare yourself more to strangers, co-workers, or yourself? Which comparison do you think is the most helpful? Why? What can you do to make sure that you are comparing yourself with the right people or person?
One of the reasons people don’t feel like they are making progress is because they have not identified what progress looks like. Sit down and write down what you think it would look like for you to be mentally tough. Be specific and try to use measurable indicators, not just feelings. Then, look at where you are now. Are there any areas where you are doing better than you thought? Where is your biggest opportunity for growth? Set a reminder to look at your list three months from now and see where you are improving!
Your circle of close friends and co-workers will determine how you perceive your situation and influence your reaction. Take inventory of your friends. Are they encouraging you and pointing you toward your goals? Or are they complainers? Do they point out the worst in every situation? If you find that some of your friendships are not helping you, choose to be less vulnerable with them. Find people who are solution-oriented and who can see beyond your temporary challenges.
Do you think that you are too tough or too tenderhearted? Good leaders know how to balance the two. If you think that you are too tough, take some time to consider how you can be more tenderhearted. A good way to start is by keeping track of how your employees or team members are doing personally. This way, you will be able to respond appropriately if they are experiencing external stress such as the death of a family member, challenges at their child’s school, or other personal issues. Then, you will be more aware of when a tenderhearted approach is necessary and be able to plan accordingly.