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It's All About Grit

Updated: Jan 30, 2021

Some call it determination.

Some call it stick-to-it-iveness.

Some call it resilience.

I call it grit.

When you think about what tends to set one organization apart from another, it is usually that one is willing to go farther than the other.

For example, when I stop by one of those pop up carnivals that appear in mall parking lots during the summer, I figure they know just as much about safety as the folks at Disney. They certainly understand what customers want and that keeping them safe is important. That said, I feel must safer on a Disney or Universal Studios ride than I do at a traveling county fair. Some of that is perception and some is reality - and growing up in small town Indiana, I had my fair share of run ins with poorly maintained carnival rides. in fact I remember a malfunctioning seat belt on "The Spider" that had my dad holding me in my seat so that I didn't plummet 25 feet to the ground.

So mostly it comes down to the grit to do the things that others won't for the good of your customers and business. Think of it as the effort you are willing to give each day to do the hard stuff, the boring stuff, and the stuff that helps propel you the extra yard to victory.

This something that we can all adopt - whether you are starting a searching for a role, starting a new role, beginning a new business, or doubling down on your current career.

Sometimes you just have the muscle through the tough stuff and push harder than the person next to you.

Let's talk about how to frame up your priorities when it comes to strategic grit and determination.

Safety must be your top concern

Safety isn't glamorous, but having spent many years in restaurants, I've seen its importance. And now in the era of Covid-19, the stakes are progressively higher.

I have seen people not take safety seriously and injure themselves in a way that was life changing. Safety can't be a nice-to-have, it must be an integral part of your service strategy. It must be woven into everything your business does and be a core value of your organization. Look at your commitments, standards, and corporate beliefs and make sure that safety is included prominently. This is also one of those tenants that must be embraced by your executive leadership as well as those who directly lead teams to ensure organizational alignment.



You must manage performance in a meaningful way

It takes determination to drive performance, which in turn drives execution and consistency.

In most organizations low performers are permitted to stick around much too long.

They poison your culture, drain enthusiasm, and suck energy from the team. Low performers can also drain managers of their visionary mojo if allowed to operate unchecked (diverting attention from the ultimate customer experience). You will have to have those tough conversations with low performers and address where they are falling short. You will have to plot a course forward that pushes them to improve or try their fortunes elsewhere. You must also inspire your high performers with rewards and recognition. Celebration is also performance management - you have to ensure repetition of the positive behaviors while changing or eliminating the negative ones.

Finally, consider your impact on the organization through your actions

There are special opportunities each day to model the behaviors you seek from your team. This takes grit as well to never take the short cut and to be an example to those you lead. This megaphone of leadership you have can be far more impactful than any email, bulletin, or webinar when it comes to inspiring your team. When you go above and beyond for a customer, say hello to your team each day, and wear your name badge, your team sees it matters to you enough that you even do it yourself. When you move beyond telling to showing, it becomes obvious to everyone what matters most. The best part is that it has compelling impact upon our multi-generational workforce and drives results.

So do the tough things.

Do the dull things.

Do the things other leaders aren't willing to do.

There is still a vast landscape to win for organizations that lead with grit and determination.

Your customers will notice and will reward you with their loyalty. If you are seeking a new role right now, employers want to hear that new team members and leaders are flexible, resilient, and agile in this evolving market.

Thanks for keeping your customers at the center of everything you do.


Tony Johnson, CCXP Customer Experience (CX) Leader | Author | Speaker

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