Leadership with Tenacity

Authored by: Shri Ram School – Aravali: Azzam Mohammed Asim & Mishka Lepps

According to Forbes, tenacity is a fierce blend of determination, persistence, and grit. For leaders and their organizations, it is an attribute that can mean the difference between failure and success, and can take a team from “doing all right” to “thriving”. Round Square describes tenacity as the ability to persevere when confronted with a challenge, and the ability to learn from mistakes with a readiness to try again. Tenacious people bounce back from disappointments and difficulties by drawing on a strong physical, mental, and emotional spirit that enables them to keep going in the face of hardships and limitations. They develop and demonstrate discipline, determination, grit, and resilience which pushes them beyond their perceived limits. The purpose of this paper is to explore the importance of tenacity in leadership, using online surveys, interviews and group discussions conducted with students and teachers.

According to students at Shri Ram School, Aravali, tenacity is important in leadership because a leader cannot lead a group of people if they have flimsy values. For our students, determination, a clear mind, and grit are all essential qualities. A leader must be able to persevere towards achieving a goal, have strong opinions, and be confident. Tenacity is the driving force that provides motivation to achieve one’s goals.

Various studies corroborate the positive effects of tenacity. In 2013, the U.S. Department of Education published a commissioned study to explore a survey widely used to measure the construct of grit. They expanded the survey to include tenacity and perseverance and noted that these were non-cognitive factors critical for success for 21st-century learners (Shechtman et al.). Another study surveyed a Mexican organisation and concluded that tenacity increases knowledge exchange. (Dirk De Clercq et al.) In their article, Overcoming the dark side of task conflict: Buffering roles of transformational leadership, tenacity, and passion for work class tenacity and passion for work as a personal resource, De Clercq and Belausteguigoitia state that tenacity, when paired with transformational leadership, can help employees cope with task conflict and increase job satisfaction. This is shown in this conceptual diagram in the same article (see fig. 1).

There are a variety of examples of tenacity at our school. It is a quality that has been inculcated in students ever since Grade 5 in the form of the Junior School Student Council, and further imbibed in the students over the years in Middle and Senior school (through Form Representatives). Tenacity is an important quality that enables students to effectively connect with their peers and teachers.

In the Senior Student Council tenacity is displayed as pushing for proposals and plans in school requires a lot of determination and perseverance, and one has to learn how to effectively deal with all kinds of setbacks. Captains of the various sports teams at school all require high levels of tenacity as their determination and spirit to win motivates players around them to perform. On a classroom level, tenacity is also required when it comes to effectively executing group projects and class assignments. Leaders are assigned in each group and are tasked with the job of carrying out the work given to the best of their abilities by confidently and successfully organising their classmates.

Despite the abundance of leadership positions offered at school, not every student can get the position that they try out for. But not being selected or winning the election for a post does not stop them from continuing their work and following their passion. Many students have genuine intentions when they start social initiatives. During the COVID-19 lockdown, many students took the initiative to provide relief, food, and masks to the underprivileged. This not only shows the tenacity these students have, it also displays other values, including their innate sense to serve and help people out which has been highlighted by their tenacious spirit.

A highly anticipated and celebrated part of our school experience is the annual Sports Day. On this day, members of the four houses – Vasundhara, Sagar, Srishti and Himgiri – compete in track and field events to compete for the Sports Cup. It is also a great opportunity for students to show tenacity and leadership. Each house is led towards victory by charismatic captains and vice-captains. Their exuberant character, contagious spirit and tenacity inspire students to participate in events and cheer-on their fellow house members. The athletes also contend with fiery grit and determination to win their respective events. Even if a student isn’t athletically inclined, they still make efforts to help their house by making posters and slogans and by encouraging the weary athletes to keep pushing to the finish line. All of this culminates in an atmosphere of passion and unity within each house and healthy competition.

Through our research, we have come to the conclusion that tenacity is not just an important characteristic in a leader, but one without which effective leadership cannot be achieved. Throughout our school life, there are numerous instances where tenacity and determination play a key role in a student’s achievements, and even without formal leadership positions, students strive to bring about a change through their grit and perseverance.


Works Cited

Christensen, Rhonda, and Gerald Knezek, “Comparative Measures of Grit, Tenacity and Perseverance.” International Journal of Learning, Teaching and Educational Research, vol. 8, 1 Oct. 2014, www.researchgate.net/publication/268207633_Comparative_Measures_of_Grit_Tenacity_and_Perseverance. Accessed 18 Mar. 2021.

De Clercq, Dirk, and Imanol Belausteguigoitia. “Overcoming the dark side of task conflict: Buffering roles of transformational leadership, tenacity, and passion for work.” European Management Journal ·, July 2016, pp. 1-3, www.researchgate.net/profile/Imanol-Belausteguigoitia/publication/304779227_Overcoming_the_dark_side_of_task_conflict_Buffering_roles_of_transformational_leadership_tenacity_and_passion_for_work/links/5b8d8a5c92851c6b7eba794c/Overcoming-the-dark-side-of-task-conflict-Buffering-roles-of-transformational-leadership-tenacity-and-passion-for-work.pdf. Accessed 18 Mar. 2021.

Shechtman, N., et al. “Promoting grit, tenacity, and perseverance: Critical factors for success in the 21st century. U.S.” Department of Education Office of Educational Technology.