What is Resilient Leadership?
Resilience is born out of more than just adversity. These 5 qualities of a resilient leader provide a more holistic view and practical guidance on how to become one.
Resilient leaders are some of the greatest leaders, identified by their ability to persevere through the tough times and maintain energy levels under pressure. Resilient leadership helps people manage disruptive changes in an organization and adapt to challenges.
One of the highlights of resilient leaders is their ability to see failure as a temporary setback. With resilient leadership, a leader can transform a crisis into a breakthrough. At WDHB and Experience to Lead, our Resilient Leader Experience embraces these 5 principles of resilient leadership:
Resilient Leader Principles
1. Aligns Vision & Purpose
Vision and purpose are the keys to self-assuredness. But when external circumstances are highly challenging, it’s hard to stay true to the vision and to maintain one’s confidence. How can a leader balance and maintain a common vision and team alignment around a shared purpose while also adapting to the circumstances?
2. Manages Self Through Uncertainty
Just like athletes, corporate leaders are expected to perform at all times which generates a lot of stress— especially in times of uncertainty. Instead of clinging to the predictable, how can leaders develop coping mechanisms to better regulate stress and leverage emotions towards positive outcomes, for themselves and their teams?
3. Builds Awareness and Anticipation
A widely accepted trait of a great leader is the ability to plan and anticipate. At the same time, leaders are expected to show discernment and make the right decisions in the moment, particularly in high-stakes or high-tension situations. How can leaders build an understanding of the context in all its complexity and make it evolve continuously as things unfold? And how can they convey that dynamic thinking to a larger team?
4. Overcomes Challenges with Tenacity
The tenacity dimension of resilience refers not only to the effort needed to win, but to the ability to accept failure as part of the learning process. From a leader’s standpoint, being able to overcome life’s and work’s challenges, obstacles and setbacks is a discipline that can be consciously practiced and implemented.
5. Adopts a Growth Mindset
A growth mindset is a deep belief in people’s ability to develop— starting with yourself. For athletes and leaders, acknowledging strengths and weaknesses, mapping the path to growth and building on adversity as a driver of improvement are key elements of resilience. Resilient leadership takes this even further by developing the ability for growth in others.
9 Ways to Enhance Resilient Leadership
Resilient leadership is about bringing others along in the organization’s journey. Though leaders need to act independently, they should also let others know their plan of action. By explaining a new strategy or direction, the transition process will be much smoother. Leaders should communicate crucial information in various formats to make sure it’s heard.
Cultivate Positive/ Trusting Relationships
Leaders should focus on building trust and embracing the differences within their team. Building positive relationships will lead to a stronger team that is more adaptable and successful. Without those relationships, it will be harder for the leader to make changes. Even drastic changes are possible with the right team dynamics and relationships.
Adapt New Perspectives
Even if certain strategies and workflows have worked year after year, there may come a time when they no longer work. New perspectives and understandings can be applied in times of change. For this reason, leaders need to be open to learning and implementing new behaviors and skills. These perspectives can be gleaned from training and development sessions, connections in one’s network and more.
As Albert Einstein famously said, “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results.” Resilient leaders are willing to take risks and make bold changes to overcome adversity. What worked in the past may need to be changed to solve problems today. Taking risks may be scary, but it’s a part of resilience and bouncing back from hardships.
Learn & Grow Continuously
Learning new technologies, techniques and strategies is essential to staying competitive. Like any skill, resilience can be sharpened and developed over time. Challenges in organizations can present learning opportunities for open-minded leaders. Every time a leader navigates a crisis, they grow in their resilience and perseverance. Obstacles are bound to happen, so it’s important to learn from them.
Acknowledge & Appreciate Small Things
The brain is a muscle that can be trained and rewired. By practicing gratitude for the small things that bring us happiness at work, leaders can be more positive overall. When leaders appreciate small wins, team morale is boosted. Leaders shouldn’t wait until a big win to praise their team. Instead, give praise frequently to encourage the team and uplift them. The team comes to trust a leader who appreciates their small wins, especially when it’s time to face tougher moments.
Resilient leaders must be open to change themselves and be willing to provide leadership to facilitate change. For a leader to foster change, they need to have a vision around the organization’s direction. They also need to have the courage to spearhead change, even when it might be uncomfortable. Balancing a vision with the reality of an ever-changing landscape is a large part of being a resilient leader.
Leaders need to empower others and set them up for success. Encouraging others sets up a positive environment on a team where people feel comfortable making mistakes and failing. By encouraging employees to embrace failure and move forward, leaders will help them develop creative solutions and problem solving for the future. When someone is struggling, help them by pointing out ways to improve and acknowledging their efforts.
Create & Maintain Networks
When facing stress and feeling overwhelmed, “talking out” issues with trusted friends and colleagues can help. Trusted peers can be a crucial source of strength and guidance for resilient leaders. Having an extensive network of people with different perspectives and skills can help drive key projects forward.
Growing one’s network with people from different backgrounds can help leaders build resilience and encourage others to do the same. People with strong support systems are often the most resilient.
Take resilient leadership skills on your team to the next level with the virtual live Resilient Leader Experience, inspired by the on-location Gold Medal Leadership Experience. Glean leadership lessons from elite athletes and coaches competing at the highest level. The Resilient Leader Experience helps teams acquire new skills and mindsets to achieve desired outcomes. During the program, you will learn practical ways to use adversity as an improvement driver and develop a path for personal and team growth that will have lasting impact.
Our Resilient Leader Experience empowers your people and helps them become more resilient leaders. Learn to cultivate a growth mindset and power through a variety of challenges. By overcoming obstacles to success, aligning vision with purpose, managing yourself in uncertainty, adapting a growth mindset, and building awareness, any leader can become more resilient.
Read more about Resilience in our Blog:
Resilient Leadership FAQs
Why is resilience important in leadership?
Having flexibility, adaptability and willpower to adjust when things are changing rapidly is essential. Difficult situations can be a catalyst for learning and growth. Without resilient leadership, leaders can burn out and get stuck.
What are the 7 C’s of resilience?
According to Dr. Kenneth Ginsburg, the essential pillars of resilience are competence, confidence, connection, character, contribution, coping and control. These traits can help people of all ages and backgrounds learn from adversity and become more resilient. The 7 C’s of resilience can help leaders be present mentally, physically and emotionally.
What are examples of resilience?
There are many common examples of resilience in the workplace. For example, you learn to receive feedback without taking it personally and feeling inadequate. Instead, you use the criticism positively to get better at your job. Another example could be handling the news of a co-worker getting a promotion that you were seeking. Bouncing back and staying positive are key components of resilient leadership.
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