Corporate managers can draw some important lessons from those who manage in hostile environments. Major Whitefield of the British Army suggests that managers in the UK are slaves to regulation and could benefit from a more flexible approach to deal with challenge. Whitefield states that ‘having things laid down in black and white is supposed to protect the more vulnerable, not to inhibit employers’ ability to be dynamic. Regulation is often an excuse to say no!’
This theory certainly holds true for members of the Armed Forces who have developed a high level of mental toughness to deal with hostile environments and can therefore afford to be more flexible. This may not be the case with many managers!!
Martin Thomas, a non-executive of Sport England agrees with this viewpoint. He writes ‘organisations with a looser mindset, are far more capable of responding to changes and reacting to demands.’
Change is often feared by those who are low on mental toughness, this is one reason why corporate managers are likely to lag behind Army officers in dealing with uncertainty. Thomas declares ‘when things go wrong, we revert to the autocratic way.’
The uptight management style of many corporations is a style which certainly seems to display a lack of confidence and mental toughness both of which are basic requirements for dealing with a “hostile environment” such as we are facing at the moment. We could certainly learn some lessons from the army about developing Mental Toughness!!