3 Ways to Get Your Grit On

Josh originally published this post as 3 Steps to Your Leadership Superpowers on his blog for veterinary professionals, and the tips are just as applicable to leaders and managers of animal sheltering teams. Be sure to register for Josh’s webinar, “Positive Perseverance: Leading During Crisis,” happening next Wednesday, September 2, at 3 ET/noon PT.

What’s one of the most valuable resources to activate in the middle of a pandemic? 

Grit, according to its leading expert, psychologist and researcher Angela Duckworth, is the stamina to persist in the face of challenge. When leaders have and show grit, especially in the face of crisis, it tends to “rub off” on their teams. As a result, the team is more likely to thrive through and beyond the adversity.

Here are 3 ways to get your grit on:

Give Your Grit a Meaningful Purpose

A meaningful sense of purpose strongly correlates with increased grittiness. When we feel like what we’re doing has a positive purpose, our Grit Superpower activates and energizes. As a leader you can maximize this for you and your team. Make the purpose of the work you are doing front and center vividly and frequently by considering, sharing, and talking about some key questions:

  • What we are working on right now – who is it benefiting? How?
  • Who would be impacted if we didn’t work on this?
  • How does this work, right now, match up with my values? Our values?

Grow Your Grit

When we hold the belief that we can grow and improve – that we are not defined by the challenge itself but rather by what we learn from it – we do much better. This relates to a phenomenon psychologists call post-traumatic growth. It turns out, quite often, when we experience and survive a significant setback or crisis, we tend to grow resilience resources. For example, cancer survivors often talk about the strength and connection they developed as a result of their illness. This can happen in teams and organizations, too. You can activate grit by:

  • Taking note of what your team, and the organization have learned from in real time.
  • Sharing these lessons genuinely and routinely with your team.
  • Rewarding (by recognition, appreciation, or a tangible reward of some kind) “learning behavior” in the team over actual results.

Support Your Grit

The social support we have is one of the strongest foundations of a gritty, resilient response to life’s challenges. Here are a few ways to give and get support:

  • Err on the side of over-communicating. The goal is to keep your team as fully informed as possible. This builds trust, and boosts oxytocin (a social bonding neurotransmitter) in both you and your team. 
  • Counterbalance the stress of the situation with an abundance of appreciation. Gritty leaders recognize the best in their team during times of crisis and call it out genuinely, regularly, in real time.
  • Seek your own support. Gritty leaders aren’t solo heroes – they actively find social support of their own. Sometimes that support even comes from their team.

Learn More

Register for Upcoming Webinar, September 2: Positive Perseverance: Leading During Crisis
Register for Upcoming Webinar, September 23: The Practices of Purposeful Leadership
Q&A with Josh Vaisman: Leading During Crisis


Josh Vaisman

The founder of Flourish Veterinary Consulting, Josh Vaisman, CCFP, MAPPC, believes all animal welfare professionals deserve to feel fulfilled by their work, each and every day. Through his company, he combines more than 20 years of veterinary experience, a master’s in Applied Positive Psychology, and education in Positive Leadership and Positive Organizational Scholarship to help them do just that.


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