Most leaders genuinely want the best for their people, specifically when it comes to mental health. But when asked, “How are you intentionally showing your employees that you want more for them, than from them?”, it encourages deeper reflection.      

IMG_0556At its heart, this question is a call to action for leaders to take inventory of what they do in their organization to build the mental strength of their people. How strong we feel mentally influences our responses when things inevitably get hard. My intent is to share the opportunities we have as leaders to positively impact the mental strength of our people. It is not intended to downplay or omit contributors to mental health that are outside of our control. I’m not a mental health professional, but I’ve dealt with my own challenges and want to share a bit about my journey. 

For me, a difficult chapter in my mental health started with a divorce during the height of the pandemic, followed by the transition for myself and my kids into separate homes. The stress I felt was compounded by the effects the pandemic had on the business world, and if that wasn’t enough, the two years that followed the pandemic were like looking for an island in the fog. Uncertainty in the economy and editing my personal story to move forward hasn’t been easy, but we all undergo trials and tribulations that test our mental strength. 


So, what do I mean by mental strength? 

Mental strength, in its simplest terms, refers to how effectively we deal with challenges, pressures, and stressors in everyday life.

Being mentally strong doesn't mean that you never experience moments of doubt, irritation, frustration, or sadness, rather that you have the skills to cope with these emotions when they come to the forefront. 

mental strengthThere were many moments in my journey when the weight of anxiety and worry made me feel like I was sinking in quicksand—we call it “being stuck.” What got me through? The mental strength I accumulated before the storm. During this very difficult period of my life, my mental strength reserves were greater than the emotions I faced. I developed the skills to go through, not around, what I was facing. Experts like my wise friend Dr. Luana Marques know this is at the core of a concept called “emotion regulation,” which teaches us that experiencing our emotions is better than avoiding them. It prevents us from getting stuck or worse—being paralyzed by them.

To get you thinking about how to build mental strength on your team, here are a few questions to ask to get you started. Let these questions help you assess your organization for ways you can intentionally do the same for your great people.  


1. How can you start building the mental strength of your people by making them feel seen in the first steps of your selection process?

At PG, we ceremoniously flip the resume over in our first two interviews so that we can assess a person for who they are, not how they show up on paper. We strive to make a potential employee feel that we want to know who they really are by designing questions that help us understand their story. This signals to them that who they are is more important to us than the public information everyone sees on LinkedIn about what they do.  

We all crave to be seen and understood—it’s our greatest societal hunger because it attacks loneliness, a contributor to poor mental health. Making your employees feel seen builds a stronger sense of identity for people, and in turn, they bring that unique story to our community, feeling worthy and excited to share it.        

IMG_53282. What skills are you teaching during your welcome to help your employees get through the hard things they’ll face at home and work?  

At PG, we focus on making great people better. Every employee we select undergoes two assessments: DISC & The Working Genius. We want them to know how they are wired and to understand their communication style. The better they know who they are, the stronger their sense of appreciation is for their strengths.

We want them to understand the kind of work that brings them the most fulfillment and joy, which helps us better guide them in a way that ignites engagement. Within the first month, we teach them how to build trust with others and how to have hard conversations—both are critical mental strength-building skills needed to get through difficult situations in their personal and professional lives. 

3. How open are you about your biggest problems and how do you create joy in solving those? 

Things are going to go wrong, so we want to empower our employees to solve the problems they like to fix. We want our people to bring their best skills forward, and we consistently seek those out as we speak openly about the areas we need to fix as an organization and our annual priorities. We publish a list of our biggest projects every year and seek out the employees best suited to work on them, even when the project is outside of their team. This goes a long way towards making employees feel empowered and valued.  

IMG_5213There’s a Latin saying; veres acquirit eundo. "We gather strength as we go.”    

As a leader, we must invest in areas that contribute to the mental strength reserves of our people. We must teach them the skills to go through those moments when emotions are tested, not around. Employees will engage in direct proportion to your investment. This signals to them that you want more for them than from them.  

The skills required for those emotionally charged situations—inside and outside the walls of your organization—are priceless. Most leaders unintentionally overlook this, but good leaders lean into these shared desires to make their people stronger—one of leadership’s greatest joys.