What Is Mental Toughness and Do You Need It for Success?


What is mental toughness, and is it something you really should work on? Few of us wake up in the morning with the intention of being a hero. Instead, we hope to get by without any major stumbling blocks and aim to do what is expected of us.

It’s only when confronted with obstacles that threaten to derail our routines and plans that we don the armor and go into battle. As they say, “When the going gets tough, the tough get going.”

Here’s something to think about: What if we’re missing opportunities to get what we want  ̶  and help others get what they want  ̶  by not seeing obstacles early enough?

In the work I do coaching executives, I’ve noticed a big difference in the way successful people think and prioritize their plans. Successful people don’t limit their worldview. They aren’t imprisoned in their mind by circumstances. They see a universe of possibilities. They don’t want to simply “get by,” but rather they have the mental toughness to ask for more, no matter the barriers. Read More »

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Under-Managing: 8 Dire Consequences


Are you undermanaging your employees? For a long while, it seemed that many of my coaching clients complained frequently about bosses who micromanaged them. Nobody likes it when they’re told what to do and how to do it every step of the way. But now, however, I hear from clients that they actually want and need more direction, support and feedback.

I’ve been writing about the Rainmaker Thinking Inc. Under-management Epidemic Report 2014. (See my previous posts about this here.) I’ve come to believe that not enough quality management is being delivered to direct reports. Maybe it’s because in an effort to give people more autonomy, managers have become too hands-off. Maybe it’s because everyone is too pressured to do more work with less resources.

I’ve come to believe that under managing is worse than over managing. Why? Because without frequent quality management conversations, problems are left to grow until they become full blown crises. Read More »

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Manager Challenges: Dealing with Attitude Problems

Attitude-Problems-the-EntanglerManagers face challenges to get people to perform at their best but often encounter attitude problems. Most managers I talk with report a huge chunk of time spent sorting out interpersonal conflicts due to bad attitudes.

I’m currently reading about such manager challenges in Bruce Tulgan’s book, The 27 Challenges Managers Face: Step-by-Step Solutions to (Nearly) All of Your Management Problems. Many conflicts happen because of problem attitudes and behavior styles. Often managers don’t know how to deal with such people so they avoid them and end up under managing.

Tulgan’s research identifies six types of common attitude problems that have a negative impact in the workplace. Perhaps you are familiar with people like these?

  • Porcupines
  • Entanglers
  • Debaters
  • Complainers
  • Blamers
  • Stink-bomb throwers

Read More »

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The Engaged Manager: How to Manage a Porcupine

Manage-a-PorcupineI’ll ask this question again: Are you an engaged manager? I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how many managers I meet who struggle with people: with empowering them without neglecting them vs. motivating them without micromanaging. There are some managers who’ve steered away from over managing to the extent they are now under managing. In fact, survey data report 9 out of 10 managers are under managing, something that Bruce Tulgan calls the “under management epidemic.”

Recently I wrote about the lack of meaningful communication between managers and their staff, and how under management can be solved by holding regular high-structure, high-substance conversations. But let’s face it, some employees will resist no matter how much you try to engage with them. Sure, they’ll do their jobs; they’ll be compliant to the minimum requirements as long as they know they’re being held accountable.

In Tulgan’s book The 27 Challenges Managers Face: Step-by-Step Solutions to (Nearly) All of Your Management Problems, “management challenge #14″ is how to deal with someone with an attitude problem.  I agree with Tulgan, even though this is one of most difficult challenges managers face. If you have the guts to coach them meticulously, persistently, they will either shift their attitude, get better or leave on their own. Read More »

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The Engaged Manager:
Managing in One Hour a Day

Mentor helping person achieve good enough better and best improvAre you an engaged manager? Or are you hands-off? Many managers I know think they’re empowering their people but they’re not really managing at all. They’re undermanaging. I wrote here about how 90% of managers don’t do enough basic managing for fear of micromanaging.

What do engaged managers do? How do they get the most out of their people, foster good relationships, and get all the stuff done with good business outcomes and fewer problems?

Engaged managers are those who practice “Management 101.” They provide employees with the five ‘management basics’: Read More »

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Under-Managing: 4 Energy and Time Drains of the Busy Boss


I’m following up on my series of posts about why 90% of managers are under-managing. We hear a lot about micromanaging and busy bosses who command and control, but survey data tell us “hands-off” managing is pernicious and the foundation of  poor employee engagement.

Author Bruce Tulgan, (The 27 Challenges Managers Face: Step-by-Step Solutions to (Nearly) All of Your Management Problems) says that in the ten years since his research firm first investigated under-management, they’ve begun asking about “management engagement”.

The key factor affecting employee engagement was and remains the relationship employees have with their immediate supervisors. That’s why we had been asking a different question of business leaders: “Are your MANAGERS ‘engaged’ or not?” ~ The Under-management Epidemic Report 2014: …Ten Years Later

So if managers are practicing ‘hands-off’ management, what are they doing with their time? Here are four energy and time drains that tie up managers and get in the way of good management conversations with their people. Read More »

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9 Out of 10 Managers Are Undermanaging

Bad ManagementWhat is going on? I know many of my clients complain about micromanagement and controlling jerk bosses, but this report says there’s an undermanagement epidemic.

In 2004 a research study from RainmakerThinking, Inc. revealed an epidemic of undermanagement throughout the workplace. Now, 10 years later their on-going study shows undermanaging is still rampant.  A full 90% of all leaders and managers are not providing their direct-reports with sufficient guidance, support and coaching.

Undermanaging is defined as when a leader with supervisory authority fails to regularly and consistently provide employees with the ‘management basics’: Read More »

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Work Surveys: “We Want Better Communication!”

Better-CommunicationIt’s quite remarkable: Survey after survey shows that most employees want better communication at work. And managers report similar wants from their direct reports: “more” and “better communication.” Apparently 60% of people want improved communication at work.

You’ve got to see the irony: there’s an awful lot of communication at work, too much email, too many meetings, a lot of touching base, texting, checking-in and just plain shooting the breeze! That’s what attracted me to Bruce Tulgan’s book, The 27 Challenges Managers Face: Step-by-Step Solutions to (Nearly) All of Your Management Problems.

According to consultant and author Tulgan, “There’s a lot of communication in today’s workplace. It’s just mostly low-structure and low-substance. And so it’s not accomplishing very much. That’s why people crave more and better communication.” Read More »

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How to Boost Motivation with
Motivational Conversations

MotivationHere’s a suggestion for boosting motivation among staff: conduct a motivational outlook conversation. Ask your people to identify what motivates them to do their work. The goal is to help them see which motivating factors have maximum impact and energy for them.

Most people identify several reasons why they do the work they do. There are many motivational levels ranging from external and short term, such as money or status, to internal and profoundly meaningful, such as values and ideals in service to a higher purpose.

Take a look at this video trailer for Fowler’s book Why Motivating People Doesn’t Work:

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Motivate People without Over Managing or Micromanaging

Micromanaging-with-carrotsI don’t doubt that most managers truly want to motivate people to peak performance; it’s the way they go about it that backfires. In a fervent desire to teach people what they know to be true (after all, it worked to get them promoted to management, right?), some managers enthusiastically over-manage.

Over-management can also manifest as micromanagement. When a manager tells someone what to do, how to do it, when to do it, why their way is better, they undermine the person’s ability to think for themselves.  Instead of someone feeling as if they have some control over the way they work, they begin to feel powerless and controlled. They many even start to doubt their competency. Their relationship with their manager becomes fragile, since it is based on compliance and conformity. Read More »

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