Many leaders have spent their entire professional lives developing grit: the mental toughness to face obstacles and overcome them with discipline and drive. But more and more, we’re seeing the necessity of another ingredient: grace. Grace is the forgiveness, compassion and empathy that enables powerful relationships and connection to those around you. And to thrive in the workplace, you need both.

Research proves that when we learn to combine both grace and grit, women can truly be at their best. That’s why we are excited to announce a session called ‘The Balance of Grit & Grace’ at our 16th Annual Central Exchange Leadership Lyceum on April 23, 2019, designed to help you harness both qualities in a transformative style of leadership. Read on to discover why having both grit and grace is essential for your professional success!

Playing the grit game — and why it matters

Both stereotypically and historically, the perception of success is rooted in grit. The presumption that tough bosses get results — and fast — compared with gentler leaders is widespread, and rooted partly in the published life stories of successful CEOs. Anecdotally, there are plenty of examples of grit-driven leaders who produced results. Think Steve Jobs and Bobby Knight. Sink or swim, dog eat dog, tough it out . . . with phrases like these embedded in corporate culture, it’s no wonder we prize grit.

Angela Duckworth, author of Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance (2016), discovered that grit matters more than talent. She found that those with a strong sense of passion and commitment for their work are able to maintain higher motivation and energy over long periods of time, even if they encounter challenges and setbacks.

A study on elite athletes found that mental toughness — or grit — is one of the best psychological indicators of success. What made these high-performers most successful was their commitment to learning, willingness to make mistakes, desire to conquer a challenge and determination to work on their weaknesses while also playing to their strengths.

The not-so-subtle power of grace

While grit is scientifically proven to predict career success, it comes with potentially harmful results when grace doesn’t follow. Without the emotional intelligence of grace, professionals may be self-absorbed, poor team players who are so driven they push others away. Grit is undoubtedly important but falls flat without the connection and relationship skills of grace.

The 2018 State of the Workplace Empathy Study by Businessolver reveals a number of exciting insights in favor of bringing more grace into your career. The study shows that 87% of CEOs see a direct link between workplace empathy and business performance, productivity, retention and general business health. In fact, 87% of CEOs believe a company’s financial performance is tied to empathy in the workplace.

Inc Magazine called the graceful skill of forgiveness the secret of great leadership. Dr. Shawne Duperon founded the Project Forgive Foundation to teach leaders the the importance of forgiveness in a professional environment. “Forgiveness is a bold leadership skill,” she says. “When fostered in business and leadership environments, you cultivate greater loyalty, adventurous creativity, and increased productivity.”

How to grow in both grit and grace

Notice a grace or grit gap within yourself? No sweat: both are traits you can learn. It’s possible to up your grit factor with practice. A good first step in building grit is to compete with who you were yesterday. Stick with a boring task even if you don’t want to. Do a slightly tougher workout. Challenge yourself professionally by taking on a project slightly outside your wheelhouse — and if you hit a wall, stick with it.

Like grit, grace can be built over time as well. Empathy and forgiveness can also be developed if you find yourself wanting more grace in your life. One way to practice a graceful attitude is to genuinely listen. Our neurons kick in strongest when we notice someone else’s emotions. Close your laptop, put away your phone and get rid of distractions. Get laser-focused on not only what your colleague is sharing with you, but how. Notice body language to tap into emotion. Ask open-ended questions and reserve your judgment.

Does uncovering how to get just the right amount of grit and grace in your career feel like rocket science? End the self-doubt and find clarity by joining us at ‘The Balance of Grit & Grace’ Lyceum session! Our expert speakers Kim Yates and Wendy Reynolds will lead you through implementing this powerful leadership skill in your workplace. Register for Lyceum today!

  • April 23, 2019 | Overland Park Convention Center 
  • Tickets: Member $125 | Public $299 | Registration closes April 12
  • Sponsorships & group packages:
  • What to expect: Three keynotes, two breakout sessions, breakfast, lunch, connections, inspiration and more! Discover more >>