Are You A Resilient Leader?


Resilience is defined as “an ability to recover from or adjust easily to misfortune or change” according to Merriam-Webster.  Are you a resilient leader?  How do you respond and react when faced with a difficult situation?

No matter how successful you are personally, you’ve faced challenge.  Even the most successful organizations have failure somewhere in their history.  The difference between winners and losers is not difficulty itself but the response to it.  Your team is watching your responses, measuring your attitude, and reacting appropriately.  If you break under pressure they will fold.

Resilience, and leadership itself for that matter, is about attitude and the way your attitude affects your reactions, your responses, your recovery from setbacks, and your reputation.

How do you react?  Confident leaders believe they can handle any challenge that comes their way.  Instead of a “woe is me” or a fear reaction they respond internally with “I can deal with this” or “I can overcome this setback.”  Your personal internal reactions often become the reactions of your organization.  Believe your team can deal with any challenge.  Believe they can overcome any setback.  Your belief and positive attitude will empower them.

How do you respond?  Your response is triggered by your thought patterns.  A knee jerk response indicates you’ve spent very little time thinking about the overall impact of the situation.  You have not strategized or problem solved.

Rather than a quick response or an excuse, resilient leaders take control of the situation and think quickly to find a forward moving response.  They may not find a solution to the situation on the first attempt, but they move quickly away from blame which paralyzes to creativity which energizes.  How can you improve your response?

  • Listen and Ask Questions:  Responding in a full statement shuts down all creative problem solving.  Your team will instead move to implement your solution and hope you have the right answer.  Respond instead with a “what if…” scenario or a request for ideas.  Listen closely to the responses with an open mind.
  •  Consider the Situation and the People Involved:  Every problem and challenge has a context.  Avoid making the assumption that the current setback is part of a pattern.
  •  Think Before You Act:  Urgent situations seem to call for urgent solutions, but decisions made in the heat of the moment tend to compound the problem.  Take a step back and consider the options before responding.

How do you recover?  There’s a lesson in there somewhere.  Learning the lesson as an organization will build and improve your team.  It’s not about looking around to find out who messed up, assign blame, and move on.  Instead it’s about making positive changes in your organization based on the experience.

Want a strong foundation in the face of challenge?  Use the lessons of setback to encourage your team.  Every challenge they overcome builds a foundation as strong as concrete.  Every problem resolved is a weakness in your organizational structure that is overcome and corrected.

Resilience is about your reputation.  Every organization faces challenges and adversity.  Your reputation is built on your organizations ability to react, respond, and recover in a positive way.  You don’t have to talk about it.  Your customers and your competitors will see it and witness the organizational strength your resilience represents.  Some will admire you quietly.  Others will try to become like you, following your lead.

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