About the Author(s)

Lieli Suharti Email symbol
Department of Management, Faculty of Economics and Business, Satya Wacana Christian University, Salatiga, Indonesia

Rakhel P. Kurniawati symbol
Human Resources Department, Satya Wacana Christian University, Salatiga, Indonesia


Suharti, L., & Kurniawati, R.P. (2023). Mental toughness and competitive performance of Indonesian hotel supervisors. SA Journal of Human Resource Management/SA Tydskrif vir Menslikehulpbronbestuur, 21(0), a2244. https://doi.org/10.4102/sajhrm.v21i0.2244

Original Research

Mental toughness and competitive performance of Indonesian hotel supervisors

Lieli Suharti, Rakhel P. Kurniawati

Received: 15 Feb. 2023; Accepted: 23 June 2023; Published: 28 Aug. 2023

Copyright: © 2023. The Author(s). Licensee: AOSIS.
This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Orientation: Employees need mental toughness to perform in crisis and increasingly competitive environments. Mental toughness is a psychological construct that arguably motivates individual to perform well and confidently.

Research purpose: This study aims to investigate the impacts of self-esteem and perceived inclusion on mental toughness, the impact of mental toughness on competitive performance and the role of coaching in moderating the impacts of self-esteem and perceived inclusion on mental toughness.

Motivation for the study: Mental toughness from the human resource management (HRM) perspective remains understudied. This study is expected to contribute to the literature on individuals’ positive behaviours in organisations.

Research approach/design and method: This study is an explanatory research with 174 supervisors of Indonesian hotels as the respondents selected using a judgemental sampling technique. The data are analysed using partial least squares structural equation modelling with the SmartPLS 3.0 programme.

Main findings: The findings show significant effects of self-esteem and perceived inclusion on mental toughness. Further, mental toughness affects supervisors’ competitive performance. This study also finds that coaching moderates the association between perceived inclusion and mental toughness. However, coaching cannot moderate the effect of self-esteem on mental toughness.

Practical/managerial implications: Organisations can develop their employees’ mental toughness by bolstering their self-esteem, promoting an organisational culture that embraces inclusion and implementing regular and continuous coaching for employees.

Contribution/value-add: This study analyses mental toughness from the HRM perspective. Accordingly, the implementation of the findings in organisations arguably contributes to individuals’ workplace positive behaviours.

Keywords: mental toughness; self-esteem; perceived inclusion; competitive performance; coaching.



Organisations need mental toughness as a character to survive a crisis. Mental toughness refers to a psychological construction that enables to shape individuals to perform well and confidently (Ruparel, 2020). Further, the mental toughness can also be defined as an ability to be persistent in carrying out tasks, stay in control under various situations, bounce back from adversity, be confident and perform well consistently in a dynamically changing situation (Ruparel et al., 2023).

There have been various studies proving that the mental toughness is a factor determining individuals to cope with stress (Lin et al., 2017; St Clair-Thompson et al., 2015; Weinberg, 2013). A character of mental toughness enables individuals not to panic easily and be competitive in any situation (Strycharczyk, Clough & Perry, 2021). It allows individuals to proactively seek opportunities for personal growth because they have high self-confidence (St Clair-Thompson et al., 2015). Sowislo and Orth (2013) stated that self-esteem is resistant to the effects of stress that affects mental health and is a protective factor against depression and anxiety symptoms. Aryanto and Larasati (2020) supported the finding by stating that self-esteem is positively correlated with mental toughness.

In addition to personal and infernal aspects, one prominent factor in developing employees’ character is an organisational culture (Marchalina et al., 2021). A previous study proved that an organisation culture that prioritises inclusion can become an advantage for a company in maintaining its performance in the midst of a crisis (Dixon-Fyle et al., 2020). Inclusive organisation provides employees with equal rewards and opportunities for self-actualisation so they contribute and actively involve at all levels of the organisation (Shore et al., 2018), treats employees fairly and gets them involved in important decision-making (Nishii, 2013). According to Chen and Tang (2018), the inclusion can be seen as a group’s willingness to embrace individuals into the group. This situation raises a perceived inclusion where a person feels accepted in the group and builds up a sense of belonging and authenticity (Jansen et al., 2014).

Besides, the mental toughness is believed to have an effect on performance. This is supported by Cowden (2017) and Newland et al. (2012), proving that the mental toughness has a positive influence on competitive performance. A person with a high mental toughness is able to cope with stress (Kalinin et al., 2021) and survive working under pressure (Ruparel, 2020). Several studies also mentioned that the character of mental toughness enables a person to perform better (Cowden, 2017; Gucciardi et al., 2014) and succeed in competitions (Tangkudung et al., 2021). Therefore, developing employees’ mental toughness for their performance and welfare will simultaneously increase a positive impact on the company’s success.

Furthermore, companies supported by quality human resources can improve their performance and grow sustainably (Chen et al., 2021). One proven way to develop the quality of human resources is through the coaching method (Zuñiga-Collazos et al., 2020). Coaching is defined as a process that allows learning and development to occur to improve performance (Ellinger et al., 2003). In Human Resource Management (HRM), coaching is an approach that is related to employee training and development, and proven to have a positive impact on the employee performance, both directly and indirectly (Jones et al., 2016). According to Aryanto and Larasati (2020), coaching is one factor that can help a person to develop the mental toughness. Through coaching, that person can overcome the existed stress (Stamatis et al., 2021) and increase the mental toughness (Mahoney et al., 2016).

Previous studies on mental toughness have mostly focused on athletes from various sports (Caruzzo et al., 2021; Cowden et al., 2017; Güvendi et al., 2021; Newland et al., 2012). Meanwhile, workplace-related mental toughness remains relatively understudied. Lin (2017) emphasised the need for research on the benefits of mental toughness in motivating employees to achieve desired outcomes. Following Ruparel (2020), who advised further studies on the impact of mental toughness on employees’ performance, this study analyses mental toughness from the HRM perspective.

This study selects supervisors from Indonesian hotels as the research objects. The hotel industry was chosen as the research setting because this industry is one of the most heavily affected by the pandemic. There were over 1000 Indonesian hotels and restaurants that were permanently closed because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Hotel supervisors play a crucial role when organisations face difficulties. Supervisors cannot easily leave their firms during a severe crisis, but they are responsible for managing their organisations out of crisis (D’auria & De Smet, 2020).

Research objectives

Based on the existing research gaps, this study discusses the impacts of self-esteem and perceived inclusion on mental toughness and their impacts on competitive performance. This study also examines the impacts of coaching as a moderating variable in the relationship between self-esteem and perceived inclusion on the mental toughness of supervisors. Specifically, this study seeks to test: (1) the effect of self-esteem on hotel supervisors’ mental toughness, (2) the effect of perceived inclusion on hotel supervisors’ mental toughness, (3) the effect of mental toughness on hotel supervisors’ competitive performance and (4) the role of coaching in moderating the impacts of self-esteem and perceived inclusion on hotel supervisors’ mental toughness.

Literature review
Mental toughness concept

Mental toughness is defined as individuals’ capacity to consistently meet their goals or achieve optimal performance despite numerous obstacles and challenges (Gucciardi et al., 2014). Mental toughness is a multidimensional personality that enables one to cope with pressures, stress and difficulties (St Clair-Thompson et al., 2015; Weinberg, 2013) and perform consistently amidst dynamically changing situations (Ruparel et al., 2023).

In a sporting setting, mental toughness is an indispensable characteristic of a successful person; it has been acknowledged as one of the most fundamental traits underpinning performance and excellence (Gucciardi et al., 2014). Mental toughness is made up of a number of tangible attributes. Suggested definitions include an individual’s ability to persevere in the face of adversity and challenging situations, an individual’s ability to bounce back effectively from failure and an individual’s ability to try their self-esteem and mental toughness best every time and to maintain concentration and confidence after a loss.

According to Maher (2016), the three most important attributes of a mentally tough person were as follows: firstly, having an unshakeable self-belief in one’s own ability to reach their goals; secondly, having an unshakable self-belief that you possess greater ability and qualities than your opponents; and thirdly, having an unquenchable internal desire and motivation to succeed over their opponents.

Self-esteem and mental toughness

Mental toughness is defined as individuals’ capacity to consistently meet their goals or achieve optimal performance despite numerous obstacles and challenges (Gucciardi et al., 2014). Mental toughness is a multidimensional personality that enables one to cope with pressures, stress and difficulties (St Clair-Thompson et al., 2015; Weinberg, 2013) and perform consistently amidst dynamically changing situations (Ruparel et al., 2023).

Self-esteem is individuals’ positive or negative attitudes and overall evaluation of their own thoughts and feelings towards themselves (Rosenberg, 1965). Self-esteem is a part of self that refers to self-worth and self-respect (García et al., 2019; Gnambs & Schroeders, 2017). According to Monteiro et al. (2022), self-esteem is a component of self-concept. Self-esteem is related to self-confidence and better mental health (Kim et al., 2021). Besides, individuals with higher self-esteem can exert self-control and recognise when to quit (Baumeister et al., 2003). Sowislo and Orth (2013) documented that self-esteem is resistant to the effects of stress that affects mental health and is a protective factor against depression and anxiety symptoms.

Individuals with higher self-esteem respect themselves, exhibit positive self-image and manage their stress better. They also have better psychological welfare (Parent-Lamarche & Marchand, 2019). Individuals that can fulfil their psychological needs develop their functions to cope with stress optimally, including their mental toughness character (Mahoney et al., 2014). Aryanto and Larasati (2020) also observed the positive correlation between self-esteem and mental toughness development.

H1: Self-esteem affects significantly hotel supervisors’ mental toughness.

Perceived inclusion and mental toughness

Shore et al. (2018) argued that inclusive organisations offer their employees equal rewards and opportunities to optimise their potential, actively contribute and participate at all organisational levels (Chen & Tang, 2018; Downey et al., 2014; Nishii, 2013; Shore et al., 2018). Employees are appreciated for their opinions, regardless of their various backgrounds.

Perceived inclusion exists when employees consider themselves inseparable from their organisations and have access to information, resources, social relationships and security from the organisations, which develops their capacity to influence decision-making (Jerónimo et al., 2022). The extent to which employees are recognised for their roles in the organisation’s work systems, for being influential in the decision-making process, for their work contributions, for involving in teamwork, and for providing ideas and suggestions, regardless of their diverse backgrounds and perspectives, indicates their perceived inclusion.

Amidst the COVID-19 pandemic crisis, a study documents that inclusion culture strongly affects organisations’ ability to perform. Firms that consider inclusion and diversity culture as their strength and opportunities can develop employees’ self-confidence through their perceived inclusion. Besides, Bozani et al. (2020) indicated that an inclusion culture develops employees’ self-esteem and self-respect. Several studies explain that higher perceived inclusion enables employees to cope with pressures (Brimhall et al., 2017).

An inclusive culture is considered to positively affect mental toughness by providing environments that optimally boost employees’ motivation and psychological functions. Several studies observed that psychological welfare positively affects persistence or perseverance, achievement and adaptive coping (Duchesne et al., 2017). Accordingly, the following hypothesis is proposed:

H2: Perceived inclusion affects significantly hotel supervisors’ mental toughness.

Mental toughness and competitive performance

Rai & Tang (2010) defined competitive performance as the ability to outperform competitors. According to Keskin et al. (2021), firms’ survival performance depends on how they can exhibit their competitive advantage. In this respect, firms must develop competitive strategies to acquire competitive advantages.

Employees with greater mental toughness arguably perform better than those with lower mental toughness (Cowden, 2017; Gucciardi et al., 2014). Mental toughness is considered a mechanism to improve striving, surviving and thriving performance (Mahoney et al., 2014) and help leaders survive stresses in their firms (Ruparel, 2020). Kalinin et al. (2021) documented that individuals with greater mental toughness can cope with stress, anxiety and depression, leading to better performance. Several studies demonstrated that mental toughness affects individuals’ performance (Afdani et al., 2018; Cowden, 2017; Newland et al., 2012). Strycharczyk, Clough & Perry (2021) defines mental toughness as the capacity to improve competitive performance in all situations.

H3: Mental toughness affects significantly hotel supervisors’ competitive performance.

The role of coaching in moderating the effects of self-esteem and perceived inclusion on mental toughness

Coaching is an approach that positively contributes to the development of employees’ knowledge, skills and ability that facilitates them to develop their potential optimally (Hussey & Campbell-Meier, 2021). According to Ellinger et al. (2003), coaching is an activity to facilitate and offer learning environments for performance improvements to develop and grow employees. Coaching enables employees to improve their performance, contributing to their organisations’ competitive advantages (Utrilla et al., 2015).

A study observes that coaching can develop the psychological welfare and performance of managers and their teams during the COVID-19 pandemic through safe, less judgemental and mutually supportive environments (Jarosz, 2021). Coaching increases self-esteem and self-confidence (Gencer, 2021) through positive interaction between coaches and coachees. Individuals with higher self-esteem exhibit better psychological welfare (Parent-Lamarche & Marchand, 2019). The above arguments suggest that coaching offers environments that enhance individuals’ self-esteem and psychological welfare. In turn, individuals whose psychological needs are met can develop their functions in coping with stress optimally, through mental toughness character (Mahoney et al., 2016).

Another study demonstrates that coaching offers various perspectives on inclusion and diversity culture. This study explains that coaching highlights the importance of gender, cultural and racial diversity (Motsoaledi & Cilliers, 2012). Whitmore (2009) established that coaching enables firms to develop their inclusion and diversity-sensitive leader talents. Coaching is believed to affect mental toughness positively. Concerning the self-determined theory, coaches arguably facilitate the development of mental toughness through improved mutual trust, mutual respect, positivity and challenging activities (Mahoney et al., 2014).

The above arguments imply that coaching arguably provides learning environments that strengthen the impacts of self-esteem and inclusive culture on employees’ mental toughness.

H4: Coaching moderates (strengthens) the effect of self-esteem on hotel supervisors’ mental toughness.

H5: Coaching moderates (strengthens) the effect of perceived inclusion on hotel supervisors’ mental toughness.

Research design

Research approach

This study is a quantitative explanatory research. Explanatory research is undertaken on a previously under-researched issue to establish priorities, create operational definitions and yield a more thoroughly investigated model. This study will test a number of hypotheses to find out the influence of inter-variables that include the variables of self-esteem, perceived inclusion, coaching, mental toughness and competitive performance.

Research participants

The population of this study consists of supervisors of star hotels on Bali and Java Indonesian islands. The judgemental sampling technique is used to select the sample based on certain criteria or judgements. In this respect, the sampling criteria are (1) those who work in at least a three-star hotel on Java or Bali Island and (2) hold a supervisory or managerial position.

The authors obtained 174 respondents that meet the criteria. The data indicate that 104 respondents (60%) are three-star hotel supervisors, 55 respondents (31%) are four-star hotel supervisors and 15 respondents (9%) are from five-star hotels. Regarding hotel location, 141 respondents (81% of total respondents) are from hotels located on Java Island, while the rest are from hotels located on Bali Island. Respondents are hotel supervisors/managers who work in various hotel departments, including Guest Relations (23%), Sales and Marketing (20%), Food and Beverage (16%), Human Resources (13%), Finance (8%) and other divisions (14%).

Measuring instruments

This study measures the variables using a measuring scale from prior studies. The Mental Toughness variable is measured using a 12-item scale designed by Ruparel et al. (2023) that consists of four characteristics: persistence, control, resilience and self-confidence, with three statement items each. The Self-esteem concept was measured using the scale developed by Kielkiewicz et al. (2020), which refers to Rosenberg (1965) Self-Esteem Scale consisting of 10 question items. The Perceived Inclusion concept is measured using the Inclusion Scale developed by Downey et al. (2014), which consists of five question items. This study measures the Competitive Performance concept using Edgar’s (2020) scale. This scale examines employees’ behaviour in executing their firms’ competitive strategies from the dimensions of quality enhancement, cost reduction and innovation. It consists of 12 question items. Lastly, the Coaching concept is measured using the behavioural measurement scale developed by Ellinger et al. (2003), consisting of eight question items. The research model and variable measurements can be seen in Figure 1 and Table 1.

FIGURE 1: Research model.

TABLE 1: Variable measurement.

Average variance extracted (AVE) is a summary measure of convergence among a set of items representing a reflectively measured latent construct. It is the average percentage of variation explained (variance extracted) among the items of a construct (Hair et al., 2019).

Cronbach’s alpha is a measure of internal consistency reliability that ranges from 0 to 1 and assumes equal (unweighted) indicator loadings. When structural equation modelling (SEM) is used with reflectively measured constructs, composite reliability is considered a more suitable criterion of reliability. But, Cronbach’s alpha is still considered a conservative measure of internal consistency reliability (Hair et al., 2019).

R2 values are the amount of explained variance of endogenous latent variables in the structural model. The higher the R2 values, the better the construct is explained by the latent variables in the structural model (Hair et al., 2019).

Research procedure and ethical consideration

The questionnaire was created as a Google Form and delivered online via social media such as the WhatsApp application, Instagram messaging and e-mail to respondents associated with the Association of Indonesian Hotels and Restaurants (PHRI). The data collection from respondents conforms to the code of ethics. This study was approved by Universitas Kristen Satya Wacana (No. 009/KOMISIETIK/EC/01/2022).

Statistical analysis

The data are analysed using the PLS-SEM (partial least squares structural equation modelling) that consists of two main parts: the measurement and structural models through SmartPLS software. SmartPLS is a milestone in latent variable modelling. It combines state-of-the-art methods with an easy to use and intuitive graphical user interface. SmartPLS adds a number of new and useful ‘bells and whistles’ to the software’s capabilities and, of course, to the researcher’s ability to better understand measurement issues and structural patterns. The partial least squares (PLS) path modelling method, also called PLS-SEM, was developed by Lohmöller (1989). In essence, the PLS-SEM algorithm is a sequence of regressions in terms of weight vectors. The weight vectors obtained at convergence satisfy fixed-point equations.


According to the PLS test results, the outer loading table demonstrates that all dimensions and indicators exhibit factor loadings of greater than 0.50. Thus, all dimensions of the entire variables are the constructs of the measured variables. The measurement model tests indicate that the entire estimation results have met the ideal convergent validity.

Further, the AVE measurement model indicates that the AVE convergent value is greater or lower than 0.5, and the composite reliability score is greater than 0.6, implying that all latent variables are sufficiently valid. All variables (mental toughness, self-esteem, perceived inclusion, competitive performance and coaching) have met the convergent validity criteria. The discriminant validity test indicates that the loading factor values of each indicator for all variables are greater than their cross-loadings. Hence, the constructs of all variables exhibit ideal discriminant validity.

The reliability evaluation using the composite reliability score indicates the Cronbach’s alpha value of each research variable: mental toughness (0.89), self-esteem (0.80), perceived inclusion (0.78), competitive performance (0.88) and coaching (0.85). The results imply that all variables are reliable because their Cronbach’s alpha values exhibit composite reliability scores greater than 0.7.

Figure 2 illustrates the results of the PLS structural model test. The figure indicates an association path between self-esteem and mental toughness, an association path between perceived inclusion and mental toughness, an association path between mental toughness and competitive performance, a moderation path of coaching on the association between self-esteem and mental toughness, and a moderation path of coaching on the association between perceived inclusion on mental toughness.

FIGURE 2: Partial least squares outputs.

Table 2 displays the results of the hypothesis test as indicated by the path coefficients.

TABLE 2: Path coefficients.

The hypotheses testing indicates that self-esteem significantly affects the mental toughness variables (β = 0.347; t-statistic 4.899 > 1.96), implying that self-esteem contributes to respondents’ mental toughness. The direction of the association between self-esteem and mental toughness is positive, as indicated by the coefficient path of 0.347. Therefore, hypothesis 1 was accepted.

Perceived inclusion significantly affects the mental toughness variable (β = 0.302; t-statistic 2.813 > 1.96), suggesting that perceived inclusion contributes to respondents’ mental toughness. The direction of the association between perceived inclusion and mental toughness is positive, as indicated by the path coefficient of 0.302. Thus, hypothesis 2 was accepted.

Further, mental toughness significantly affects the competitive performance variable (β = 0.823; t-statistic 28.516 > 1.96), indicating that mental toughness contributes to respondents’ competitive performance. The direction of the association between perceived inclusion and mental toughness is positive, as indicated by the path coefficient of 0.823. Therefore, hypothesis 3 was accepted.

Coaching cannot moderate the association between self-esteem and mental toughness (β = -0.103; t-statistic = 1.446 < 1.96), implying that coaching cannot moderate the association between self-esteem and mental toughness. As such, hypothesis 4 was rejected.

However, coaching moderates the association between perceived inclusion and mental toughness (β = 0.141; t-statistic 2.019 > 1.96), suggesting that coaching moderates the association between perceived inclusion and mental toughness. Thus, hypothesis 5 was accepted.

Table 3 displays the results of the structural model test, as indicated by the R2 values as the goodness-of-fit (GoF) model test.

TABLE 3: R2 value.

Table 3 indicates that the R2 value of the Competitive Performance variable is 0.678, implying that the model is very good and can explain 67.80% of the phenomenon. Thus, 67.80% of competitive performance is determined by mental toughness, whereas other variables explain 32.80%. Further, the R2 value of Mental Toughness is 0.659, suggesting that Self-esteem, Perceived Inclusion and Coaching as the moderator explain 65.90% of the Mental Toughness variable, whereas 34.10% is explained by other variables not included in the model and errors. This study applied the GoF index as a complete model fit, which was measured at 0.633, further detailed in Table 4.

TABLE 4: Goodness-of-fit index.

Based on Table 4, the GoF index is 0.633. It indicates a satisfactory model fit and considerable predictive power.


The test result for hypothesis 1 indicates that self-esteem significantly contributes to mental toughness. The path coefficient also indicates the positive relation between the two variables. Hence, respondents’ self-esteem improves their mental toughness. The finding is consistent with the two previous studies by Parent-Lamarche and Marchand (2019) and Mahoney et al. (2014) that explain individuals with greater self-esteem exhibiting better psychological welfare. Supervisors who have reached their psychological needs will develop mechanism to cope with stress optimally, through mental toughness mentality. The hypothesis and findings of this study are predicated on the concept of organisational human resources’ mental toughness because of robust self-esteem levels. Supervisors in hotel industry will fulfil their psychological welfare when they are self-satisfied, confident in their quality, able to perform various tasks, proud of themselves, confident in their values and positive towards themselves.

The test result for hypothesis 2 indicates that perceived inclusion significantly affects mental toughness, too. The path coefficient also shows a positive relationship among two variables. Thus, perceived inclusion improves the mental toughness of the supervisors and managers in the hotel industry. The self-determined theory (i.e. the basic psychological needs theory) argues that individuals’ optimal psychological growth and positive characters result in mental toughness (Deci & Ryan, 2000). The finding in this study supports that human resources’ mental toughness is the results of the firms’ inclusive culture that leads to perceived inclusion. Supervisors will arguably optimise their psychological growth and positive character when they are given circumstance to be recognised for their roles in organisational work systems, be involved in the decision-making processes, be appreciated for their opinions, be involved in teamwork, and be able to contribute to ideas regardless of their backgrounds and perspectives. Several other studies also support the finding, such as studies by Chen and Tang (2018).

Hypothesis 3 is also empirically supported, that is, mental toughness positively and significantly affects competitive performance. Individuals with greater mental toughness exhibit higher competitive performance. The finding is consistent with Cowden (2017) and Gucciardi et al. (2014), who observed employees with greater mental toughness producing better outputs than those with lower mental toughness. In a similar situation, the result in this study is consistent with Mahoney (2015), who documented mental toughness as a mechanism for improving, striving, surviving and thriving performance. Besides, the result in this study complements a study by Kalinin et al. (2021), which demonstrated mental toughness mitigating stress, anxiety and depression, thus implying better performance and survival in workplace competition (Tangkudung et al, 2021).

However, hypothesis 4 predicting that coaching moderates the relationship between self-esteem and mental toughness is not empirically supported. In this respect, supervisors’ self-esteem and its impact on mental toughness do not depend on coaching from their leaders in the workplace. So far, no research has coherently investigated the relationships between coaching, self-esteem and mental toughness. Several studies analysed the association between coaching and self-development. For instance, Dahling et al. (2016) revealed that coaching develops employees’ professional, interpersonal and personal skills. Although the result of this study indicates that coaching cannot moderate the effect of self-esteem on mental toughness, the authors find that coaching directly affects mental toughness (t-statistics 2.833 > 1.96). The finding is consistent with Aryanto and Larasati (2020), Mahoney et al. (2014), and Nicholls et al. (2016), who described coaching in shaping the mental toughness character trait.

Hypothesis 5 predicting that coaching moderates the effect of perceived inclusion on mental toughness is empirically supported. Thus, coaching strengthens the effect of perceived inclusion on supervisors’ mental toughness. Organisational leaders may utilise coaching to reinforce the positive effect of inclusive organisational culture on their supervisors’ mental toughness. Supervisors with better perceived inclusion are more persistent in their work as it is a reflection of their mental toughness in coping with workplace challenges and pressures. The finding in this study is consistent with Whitmore (2009) and Mahoney et al. (2016), who discovered coaching as an enabler of the organisations to transform talents to become tough in facing uncertainty and unpredictability. Besides, organisational leaders who provide coaching for their supervisors continuously create mutually constructive environments that help them achieve psychological welfare and eventually develop mental toughness.

Practical implication

The results of this study propose some practical implications for HRM. Firstly, amidst the economic uncertainty and severe business competition, supervisors have to possess mental toughness as their character trait so that they can survive working during crisis and under pressures. This study finds that employee’s self-esteem has a positive correlation with mental toughness. This translates that organisations provide character building to strengthen self-esteem of hotel supervisors before they focus on developing their mental toughness. Therefore, companies can boost the supervisors’ self-esteem by creating supportive atmosphere as the organisational culture and enhancing training and development programmes to suit the needs of self-esteem building.

Secondly, this study also finds that the inclusive culture within the organisation can improve supervisors’ mental toughness. So, hotel top leaders are encouraged to create organisational culture that prioritises inclusion in order to enhance their employee’s mental toughness. The inclusive practices such as equal employment opportunity, no discrimination, and respect others within organisation will encourage the character trait of mental toughness among supervisors.

Finally, coaching is proven to have the effect on mental toughness of the supervisors and strengthens the effect of inclusive perception on mental toughness. Various activities in coaching can stimulate the feeling of being respected and empowered, which will enhance the mental toughness among the supervisors. Therefore, organisational leaders are expected to provide coaching clinics regularly and continuously.

Limitation and recommendation

This study imposes several limitations that need attention for researchers in addressing the similar topic. This study was conducted only in the scope of the hospitality industry, and the respondents were supervisors or first-line managers. This hospitality industry was chosen as it was the most severely affected by the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic. Findings of this study may refer to the context of the hospitality industry during the pandemic. As the results of this study may not be coherent with the normal situation, it is cautiously expected not to generalise the results directly to other industries and other managerial levels in different situations. In reality, all levels of employees in various industries may have their own challenges that need mental toughness to encounter such problems in workplaces. Therefore, it is recommended for future studies to address this topic to different levels of employees in different industrial sectors.

As this study was conducted during the COVID-19 pandemic, limited mobility to collect the data was also the major hindrance, so the data collection method was using online surveys by distributing a Google Form to respondents. This limitation may cause some distortions in answering some statements in the questionnaire, especially for the variable of coaching. This study assumes that all respondents experienced coaching from their leaders. In reality, not all hotels may implement coaching practices for their employees. For future studies, it is highly recommended to develop different data collection techniques. One recommended method is by using a qualitative approach with an in-depth interview method to explore how different factors affecting the process of building mental toughness among the employees and how this mental toughness contributing to the individual and organisational well-being.


The results of this study offer several conclusions. Firstly, self-esteem positively and significantly affects supervisors’ mental toughness. Individuals with greater self-esteem exhibit higher mental toughness. Secondly, perceived inclusion positively and significantly affects supervisors’ mental toughness. Organisations that implement inclusive culture provide inclusive environments improve employees’ mental toughness.

Thirdly, this study empirically demonstrates that supervisors’ mental toughness positively affects their competitive performance, implying that supervisors with greater mental toughness exhibit better competitive performance. Next, coaching does not moderate the effect of self-esteem on supervisors’ mental toughness. Hence, individuals’ self-esteem and its impact on mental toughness do not depend on coaching that is provided by leaders in the workplace. Nevertheless, coaching moderates the impact of perceived inclusion on supervisors’ mental toughness, suggesting that various perspectives on inclusion and diversity through coaching strengthen the relationship between perceived inclusion and supervisors’ mental toughness.


Competing interests

The authors declare that they have no financial or personal relationships that may have inappropriately influenced them in writing this article.

Authors’ contributions

All the authors have made an equal contribution to this study.

Funding information

This research received no specific grant from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

Data availability

The authors confirm that the data supporting the findings of this study are available within the article and its supplementary materials.


All written statements in this submitted article express writer’s personal opinions and may not reflect an official position of the institution or funder.


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