To be effective and successful leaders need to be mentally tough. They need to set and communicate the vision, bring people with them on the journey, drive for results and seize opportunities from the inevitable setbacks and failures along the way. These responsibilities require effective leadership and effective leadership requires mental toughness.

Although I have a definite picture of what mental toughness in leadership looks like I always enjoy reading other writers perspectives. In this article, Steve Siebold , respected author and expert in the field of critical thinking and mental toughness training explains his view in the Huffington Post.

When you look at C level executives, you’ll usually see impressive educational credentials and years of solid business experience that helped them get to the top. Another essential characteristic of all great corporate leaders is mental toughness, and it’s what separates the great ones from the average ones.

Mental toughness may mean different things to different people, but ultimately, it’s about being able to control your emotions and persevere in the most difficult of challenges, no matter what life, the job or anything else throws your way. Corporate leaders have so much on their plate at once, are responsible for some of the largest companies in the world and still have to find the time to balance all of it with their personal lives.

The great ones make it look easy because their thoughts, beliefs and philosophies allow them to play the game better and more efficiently than others. The good news, however, is that while some people are naturally more mentally tough than others, it’s a skill that anyone can develop with a little practice.

World-Class Leaders Are Willing To Get Fired Everyday

Amateur thinkers make lousy leaders because they operate out of a fear-based consciousness. Fear-based leaders succumb to politics and pressure, which cripples their ability to lead. Professional thinkers operate out of love and abundance and fearlessly lead their people to become more than they every believed possible.

The world-class leader is neither dictator nor babysitter. Sometimes that means being unpopular and pushing people beyond their comfort zones, and other times it means being there for a team member who has hit rock bottom. World-class leaders are chameleons who are able to change and adapt to any situation, always with the same goal in mind: bringing out the best in people. Sometimes that means being tough and other times it means being tender. Champion leaders are always walking the razor’s edge, and are willing to take any risk necessary to achieve their objectives, even to the point of being fired.

Champions Are Obsessed With Productivity and Results

Average performers think of work in terms of time invested on the job. World-class performers think of work in terms of overall productivity, output and results. Middle-class performers are far more concerned with what’s for lunch than with the productivity of the business day. Their bodies are at work but their minds are somewhere else.

Professional performers tend to work in jobs and businesses they love. As a result, thoughts of how to be more successful and productive never leave their minds. The great ones have to force themselves into non-work activities just to give their mind a chance to rest and recover. Is it any wonder why the world-class controls over 90% of the wealth in America? The only people pros are competing against are other pros – about 5% of the workforce.

The Differences Are Extreme

If you look closely, the traits of world-class corporate leaders are quite noticeable. Here are a few more examples:

  • Champions embrace conflict for growth.
  • Champions are future-oriented.
  • The World-class has tremendous self-respect.
  • Champions take risks.
  • Champions know revenge is for amateurs.
  • Champions change their emotional response.
  • World-class leaders are bold and daring visionaries.
  • The world-class operates from objective reality.
  • Champions understand logic vs. emotion.
  • World-class leaders are decisive.
  • World-class leaders know world-class achievement requires teamwork.
  • The great ones avoid delusion and think big.
  • Champions thrive on world-class self-talk.

There’s a champion performer inside all of us just waiting to get in the game. If you want to ascend to the throne of the world-class, if you want to be a world-class C level executive, mental toughness is the ticket to becoming one of the great ones.

Link to huffingtonpost article

The comment about effective leadership “being able to control your emotions and persevere in the most difficult of challenges, no matter what life, the job or anything else throws your way” especially resonates with me as it sits well within Clough and Strycharczyk’s definition of mental toughness and the MTQ48 framework.

Contact us to learn more about the MTQ48 framework and effective leadership.

Published by Paul Lyons

Paul is an experienced chief executive, leadership coach and mental toughness professional and you can reach him at or

Subscribe To Our Newsletter

Subscribe To Our Newsletter

Join our mailing list to receive the latest news and updates from AQR and our partners at the end of every month.

You have Successfully Subscribed!

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This