I interviewed Niels Van Hove who discussed Why Mental Toughness Matters for S&OP and Supply Chain.







It's great to speak with you again, Niels. I'm looking forward to hearing your views today on why mental toughness matters for S&Op and supply chain. Can you first provide a brief of yourself?


Yes, of course, Dustin.Thanks for having me back. I have 20 years of supply chain experience. I’ve worked in different industries and countries. It was all in management positions as a consultant. I'm an author of the blog Supply Chain Trends as well, which focuses on supply chain and behaviors and mindset, and I've published some articles in renowned magazines like Foresight and Journal of Business of Forecasting. I'm also an accredited mental toughness coach and founder of Mental Toughness Online. So that's where I explore mental toughness in supply chain.


Great. Can you first define what is mental toughness?


It's a personality trait, or characteristic, which determines, in large part, how individuals perform when they're exposed to stress, pressure, and challenge. So it's really... And people, the mentally tough, can deal with situations better than the people that are mentally sensitive.


It has a genetic component as well. We know it can increase or decrease, or it's developable, and it's very significant. And in terms of the origins, it goes back to the elite sports. 30 years ago, Jim Loehr, an American performance psychologist, realized it was an essential quality in the mind of winners. But over the last 10 years, Professor Peter Clough, which is a psychologist from the UK, really took the concept further, and it's now accessible, not only for elite sport, but practically for every walk of life and also in business.


And Peter Clough defined the four C's of mental toughness, which is...Control — you really believe you can do something; Commitment — you promise to do it. You set a goal. You make it happen. It is Challenge — you take a challenge, and you're driven to do it.And it's Confidence. You have the inner strength and belief you can do it.


So those four C's. They make up the definition of mental toughness.


Why is it important for supply chain and S&OP?


Well, if we first just go from a people perspective, actually, for mentally tough, they're healthier. So it's better for your wellbeing. They actually sleep better. They show less anxiety and stress. There is a strong correlation with emotional intelligence as well. The mentally tough, they perform up to 25% better as well. And that also comes back to team performance, where mentally tough teams are more open for challenge and also make better decisions under pressures.


We know supply chain. We live in this VUCA world— volatile, uncertain and complex world — and we see increased pressure and stress all around us in supply chain —shortened life cycles, increasing competition, increased customers requirements, and change is the only constant. And the mentally tough are open for that change and ready for new challenges and perform better in these environments.


And from an S&OP perspective, I actually did some research myself in my S&Op [inaudible 0:03:48] check. It shows that participants who joined my survey, they score a higher effectiveness of S&OP, almost double, where they see attributes of mental toughness in their environments versus participants who don't see that. So in terms of...I've seen some data that shows S&OP is more effective in a mentally tough environment.


How can it be developed?


It can be developed. We know that, and it's proven. And Professor Peter Clough actually made a questionnaire, which is called the MTQ48. These are 48 questions which actually measure your mental toughness across those four C's. And often it's the first rating that awareness. So if you take this survey, it's about understanding how you think, actually. Mental toughness really describes how you think about your environment, about yourself. Once you have this awareness, you can start working to improve yourself, and it can be with self-help. There's self-help guides out there, and I wrote one myself as well. But you can also get a coach to improve certain attributes of your mental toughness. And it's often about changing the way you think about yourself and the world. Positive psychology plays a role there. But it's small intervention and changing small habits, which can, if you sum them up, have a big impact.


Do you have any final recommendations?


Yeah. From a business perspective, I really think that improving mindset and mental toughness should be on every CEO's agenda. There's a lot of research out there that it improves wellbeing and performance of employees. They make better decisions under pressure. They deal better with pressure and the challenges of this day and age. It's also my mission to get it on the agenda of CEO's. I look specifically to supply chain, S&Op. I've looked at some data that sort of suggests that it improves performance in those areas as well. So I think, together, it's enough reason for CEOs and executives to start embracing mental toughness and improvement of the mindset in their organization.


Thanks, Niels, for sharing today. And I look forward to staying in touch if you want to have another discussion in the future.


Yeah. Thanks. It was a pleasure, Dustin.



About Niels Van Hove






Niels Van Hove


Coach | Consultant | Author


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