A new criterion has been added to C-Suite searches: GRIT.

Angela Duckworth’s treatise on GRIT put forth in her book has spawned numerous Youtube videos on the subject (references at end of this post). If you have been hiding out somewhere and have not experienced the blitz on this subject, the premise is that:

Effort is twice as important as talent because:

  • Talent x Effort = Skills
  • Skills x Effort = Achievements

While Ms. Duckworth has created a Grit Scale, it is a self-evaluation and therefore insufficient for our purposes. My CEO Vistage members wanted to know how to put the criterion into practice. So we had a discussion about the questions to ask in interviews and the observations to note about c.v.’s and cover letters — questions for recruiters to ask finalists, questions for the CEO and direct reports to ask in interviews and of references.


In Duckworth’s own writings, Grit is further detailed as:

  1. Passion for a particular topic or goal
  2. Daily improvement of ability to pursue the goal
  3. A motivating purpose greater than the goal or the self – often serving others
  4. A growth mindset – believing that it is never too late to advance abilities

And in a helpful video, fellow coach Brendon Burchard offers these further admonitions:

  1. Get clarity about your passion both for the long haul and for the next 90 days
  2. Prime your enthusiasm for something in your day at the start of each day
  3. Block out time to work on your goal; no time blocked? No improvement likely.
  4. Enlist a team who all work toward the goal

On the latter point, in a prior post about Why CEOs Falter, I observed that one root cause for failure is the leader not enlisting all the appropriate resources in her or his ecosystem.


Here are a few of the topics on which our VISTAGE Peer Advisory Board CEOs would focus questions, digging into facts, candidate’s perceptions and emotions:

  1. Action in the face of continuous more powerful forces against pursuit of a goal
  2. Major job or career setback and the recovery
  3. Goal/development successfully pursued over an extended period of years
  4. Adaptation and continued pursuit when goal needed to be adjusted
  5. Examples of “all in” periods in pursuit of an objective on the way to the goal
  6. Instances of enlisting a sub rosa team/network
  7. Goal abandoned for whatever reason.
  8. How was time to work on the goal created and managed?

That’s just my view. What’s yours?

We will post again at a later date when we have more feedback from real world situations.

Meanwhile, some resources to consult for further edification:

Grit, by Angela Duckworth. Simon and Schuster May 2016, ISBN 9781501111105

Youtube video: Grit by Angela Duckworth: Animated Core Message (6:18)

Youtube video: How to Develop Grit (And What is Grit?) — Brendon.com (Brendon Burchard)


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What Made jack welch JACK WELCH

How Ordinary People Become
Extraordinary Leaders

by Stephen H. Baum (Random House)

Most leaders of American companies started out as ordinary people. What prepared them for the top job?

Countless more ordinary people of equal talent never developed the leadership core required to run the show. Why not?

"Lessons for life about the core leadership traits of character, risk taking decisiveness and the ability to engage and inspire followers."
--Jim Clifton, CEO, The Gallup Organization


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