There have been few individual sporting feats more impressive than tennis player Emma Raducanu’s recent success in the US Open. She got over the barrier of being just 18 years old, the barrier of having precious little experience in major tournaments, the barrier of having to play qualifying matches to reach the tournament proper… I could go on and on.

As well as her tennis talent, it was an immense amount of grit that helped her to get over these barriers and, ultimately, win.

On the mindset flipside, I remember sitting in on my first lesson as a trainee teacher, with re-sit students not much younger than Emma, who looked as if life had already well and truly beaten them. The body language and lack of any kind of engagement was contagiously depressing. The combined level of grit in the students in that classroom was, at that moment, absolutely zero.

I never saw those students again, but if things stayed that way they would almost certainly not have ‘won’ at their re-sits.


So what is grit exactly, and is it worth developing?

Dr. Angela Duckworth – the world’s most prominent expert on the subject – describes grit as passion and perseverance for long-term goals.

As a leader or manager in the workplace, can developing your level of grit help you to win your own personal US Open? You bet.

It would be naïve to believe that you will achieve any meaningful level of success in your working life without any setbacks or challenges, and your level of grit is a significant factor in how these setbacks or challenges affect you.


How can you develop your level of grit?

A great place to start your journey is by reading Dr. Duckworth’s book – Grit: Why passion and resilience are the secrets to success. Also investigate the Six Personality Attributes of Grit model, introduced by Buzzetto-Hollywood & Mitchell and based on years of research by the authors. You will find out the vital importance to your grittiness of working on:

  • Self-regulation
  • Self-discipline
  • Resilience
  • Dutifulness
  • Conscientiousness
  • Low impulsivity


Which way will you go?

So, have you decided to be more like Emma Raducanu or my old re-sit students?

Honestly, the working world as an entity doesn’t care either way. But it also doesn’t care how young or old you are, where you come from, etc.

If you are great at what you do and you develop the grit to pull you through the setbacks and challenges you will undoubtedly face, you will win.


Written by Darren Ward – Management & Leadership Assessor