We use cookies to improve your experience. By using our site you are accepting our cookie policy. 
Read our privacy policy to learn more.

Go to HR, Organizational Development & Coaching

Does your organization have the determination to succeed? How to cultivate ‘mental toughness’

15th September 2015 | Peter Clough

Professor Peter Clough promises to explain that ‘mental toughness’ is actually far more subtle and nuanced than is generally thought.


In my session at WOLCE, I will be exploring the concept of mental toughness and how it can be applied to the workplace. At the core of this talk will be an emphasis on the complexity that underpins this sometimes misunderstood concept.  Mental toughness is often viewed in very stark ‘black and white’ terms.  However, like nearly all psychological phenomena, it is much more nuanced than that, and issues and questions relating to mental toughness will be highlighted.


For example, two key questions are ‘What is mental toughness’ and ‘Do people need to be tough’? The answers are perhaps not as clear-cut as you would expect.


The talk will focus on the model developed by myself and my colleagues over the last decade.  The ‘4 Cs model’ is now widely used within business, education and sport across the world. The 4 Cs are:


  1.       Commitment: Describes to what extent you will ‘make promises’ and then do what it takes to keep these.
  2.       Control: Describes to what extent you believe you shape what happen to you and manage your emotions when doing it.
  3.       Challenge: Describes to what extent you believe that challenge is an opportunity rather than a threat
  4.       Confidence: Describes to what extent you believe you have the ability to deal with what will face you and the inner strength to stand your ground when needed


You cannot fully understand mental toughness without thinking about, and defining, the opposite

A number of models suggest that the opposite of toughness is mental weakness.  The 4 Cs model does not and the presentation will explore this false and damaging dichotomy further.

My approach will be pragmatic, to demonstrate how a better understanding of mental toughness can benefit your organization. In addition, ways of increasing organizational toughness will be described and explored.  The nature vs nurture debate is certainly live and lively when it comes to mental toughness!


The 4 Cs model is not simply an idea; it’s an empirically supported concept

Finally, the importance of a solid research foundation when developing models will be discussed.  The 4 Cs model has been rigorously scrutinised in the academic literature.  It is not simply an idea; it is an empirically supported concept.  The research base will be briefly described, not to detract from the practical focus but to help you to better understand the concept of mental toughness and be aware of its strengths – and its weaknesses.

Peter is co-author, with Doug Strycharczyk, of Developing Mental Toughness: Coaching Strategies to Improve Performance, Resilience and Wellbeing. You can order at a 20% discount when you enter code TOUGHW20 at the checkout on www.koganpage.com


HR, Organizational Development & Coaching

Keep up to date with innovations and best practices in human resource management, organizational development and coaching for both professional and academic success. We publish books, articles and online resources by leading industry experts, and are the publishing partner for the CIPD. FREE UK/US delivery on all orders.

Go to zone