Career Advice

This Thing Called Grit

Kim Padmore Posted by Kim
min read
Hu Chen Fz0qzj Vf  C Unsplash

​The newest addition on the high-in-demand attribute list.

Over the years, the highly desirable attributes that organisations have been keen to see in potential candidates have included commercial nous, hit-the-ground-running and learning agility.

Today, the common catch-cry is for this thing called grit.

So what exactly is Grit?

Well, to start, how come some people accomplish so much more than others? We all pose ourselves this question at some point in our lives – and our responses will vary from wealth to education to just plain luck – but it turns out that external factors play less of a role in success than we may have given them credit for. In assessing the differences between those who succeed and those who don’t, it appears that this character trait known as grit plays a big part.

The Oxford Dictionary defines ‘grit’ as: courage and resolve; strength of character. It’s a word most of us associate with toughness and steely determination.

It was the title of a well-known move in 1969 (True Grit) and – it turns out that grit has made its way to the top of the ‘highly desirable attribute list’ for the modern workplace of today. Research even suggests that hiring employees and managers who show grit as a character trait, will greatly enhance a business’s odds of success.


Dr. Paul G. Stoltz, author of GRIT: The New Science of What it takes to Persevere, Flourish, Succeed believes grit can be defined according to this acronym: Growth, Resilience, Instinct, and Tenacity.

Hiring people who display these traits are in high demand across all industries. Apparently, 98% of employers would prefer to hire an employee with GRIT than one who is otherwise perfectly qualified but lacks these characteristics.

To why is grit so important in the workplace, let’s zoom in on some of the character traits associated with grit.

Courage – Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather acceptance of it as part of a process. A courageous employee will manage their fear of failure and understand that valuable lessons can be taken away from defeat.

Achievement-oriented – An achievement-oriented employee will work tirelessly to complete tasks, but will also step out of their comfort zone occasionally to succeed in their job. It contrasts with a
dependable employee who shows up every day and performs their job duties, but never takes risks or shows initiative.

Perseverance – Without long-term goals, very little would be achieved in this world, but setting goals is only part of the process. An employee must be able to follow through. Long-term goals provide a framework that give small everyday tasks meaning, enabling us to look at the bigger picture and work toward success on a larger scale.

Resilience – Failure is an unavoidable part of life. How a person copes with their failures says a lot about their character and their potential work performance. A resilient employee will take failure in stride, learn from it, and move forward.

Excellence – An employee with grit strives for excellence rather than perfection. Perfection is an ideal that is by nature, almost entirely unattainable. A perfectionist employee will be anxious and unforgiving of failure. In contrast, excellence is an attitude which prioritises progress over perfection.

Spotting Grit

There’s no doubt that education and experience are important, but by focusing on grit during the hiring process, you will make sure that new hires will have the desired characteristics to succeed.

Here are some questions that you could weave into your interviews. Answers to these questions will provide a good idea of what an individual could bring to the company in terms of their strength of character.

Tell me about a dream you turned into a reality? This can help identify potential leaders who are willing to take calculated risks, seek out growth opportunities and follow through on achieving them.

Tell me about a time you failed and how you bounced back? A potentially successful employee will discuss lessons learned rather than deflecting and assigning blame.

Tell me about an idea you had to improve your workplace, and how you implemented that idea? This is to see if potential new hires have the initiative, problem-solving abilities, and
communication skills to do something proactive.

Tell me about a long-term project you worked on, and how you stayed engaged throughout? Today’s workplaces are full of distractions so staying on task can be difficult. You want employees who have tenacity and strategies for keeping themselves and others focused.

For more information on how our team can help you or your organisation, you can contact us on 1300 121 727.