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Got game?

In a recent Forbes piece, Christine M. Riordan, the dean and a professor of management at theUniversity of Denver’s Daniels College of Business, writes about the importance of mental toughness, equating the kind of toughness needed by a CEO with the kind needed by championship athletes.

In speaking with business leaders, Riordan found that “just as with athletes, they don't rely only on knowledge, skills, ability or past success to traverse difficult situations. They draw on an attitude, a toughness that allows them to push through hard situations and face adversity with confidence. As businesses look to the future, their top people need to think about whether they have game-ready leaders who not only have technical skills in business but mental toughness as well.”

Riordan suggests that “there are at least six markers of mental toughness from sports psychology that apply equally well to business situations.” They include:

Flexibility - “the ability to absorb the unexpected and remain supple and non-defensive ... Just like a quarterback faced with a broken play, a leader may have to decide quickly on a different way to get the ball down the field.”

Responsiveness - “Game-ready leaders are able to remain engaged, alive and connected with a situation when under pressure. They are constantly identifying the opportunities, challenges, and threats in the environment. They understand that they need to think differently about how their environment and business operate.”

Strength - “Game-ready leaders are able to exert and resist great force when under pressure and to keep going against insurmountable odds. They find the strength to dig deep and garner the resolve to keep going, even when in a seemingly losing game.”

Courage & Ethics - “Game-ready leaders do the right thing for the organization and the team. They suppress the temptation to cut corners or to undermine others so they come out on top. They have the courage to make the hard but right decisions for the organization.”

Resilience - “Game-ready leaders rebound from disappointments, mistakes and missed opportunities and get right back in the game. They have a hardiness for enduring the downs of a situation ... They resolve to make things better and are experts at figuring out ways to do more with fewer resources.”

Sportsmanship - “The behavior exhibited by game-ready leaders after losing or being attacked by others or the situation sets the tone for the rest of an organization.” In other words, civility wins.

Riordan closes, “We all need these same markers of toughness to succeed and lead in today's business environment. We cannot succeed on technical skill alone ... Game-ready leaders go into today's business environment with their best mental game and with the attitude of ‘Bring it on!’”

And that’s my - actually Christine Riordan’s - Friday Eye-Opener.

- Kevin Coupe
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