Resilient Leadership



Setbacks and roadblocks are inevitable in business, just as they are in life. The ability to quickly recover is essential for leaders, allowing them to keep their teams moving forward, feeling empowered, and working constructively.


Resiliency is one of the defining characteristics of great leaders, but it sometimes feels elusive when the stakes are high, the deadlines tight, and the resources limited.


The Victim Mentality

Some leaders respond with a "victim mentality," thinking it's unfair to suffer the hardships inflicted upon them when faced with adversity. They feel that everything is happening to them rather than feeling able to resolve a situation. But this fixation on fairness results in blaming others, focusing on the problem rather than the opportunity, and unproductively shifting attention away from resolution.


More importantly, it prevents businesses and teams from succeeding. When leaders embrace a victim mentality, their teams never rise above mediocrity. They never hold one another accountable, and they never aspire for personal and professional growth.


Leading with Resiliency

Resilient leaders, on the other hand, approach adversity with calmness, clarity, and conviction. They remain focused with energy, self-discipline, and strength. Setbacks and roadblocks become teaching moments for both them and their teams. Communication is the channel for resolution, and shared leadership blazes the path forward. Resilient leaders also acknowledge that failures lead to change and that learning how to adapt builds agile teams and organizations.


Consider your leadership qualities and traits. How resilient are you? Be wary of these three pitfalls that play to the victim mentality and three opportunities to boost your resilience IQ.


Don't Give Up, Persevere.

When facing challenging times, some leaders justify a decision to surrender by telling themselves, and others, they were dealt a bad hand, and there was no other option or way out. So, they give up. Others may not surrender, but they mentally check out, putting their egos and emotions before their team and business needs. They lick their wounds, sapping the energy of all those around them. This dysfunction creates feelings of despair as the problem deepens, and it can eventually spiral into being forced out of a leadership position or losing a business.


Perseverance provides a healthier mindset:

  1. Allow yourself to have negative feelings. It's okay to feel overwhelmed, angry, frustrated, and let down. But process those emotions in a healthy manner that allows you to move forward.

  2. Take stock of the situation and identify all the pitfalls, opportunities, and potential outcomes.

  3. Talk to a trusted confidant. Explain the situation and ask for help. This help could be a sounding board, their experience from a similar situation, or more structured assistance with developing a plan. Once you've processed your feelings, viewed the problem from all angles, and sought help, you're ready to face adversity with confidence and resilience.


Don't Blame Others, Be Accountable.

Another common pitfall of leaders facing major setbacks is pinning the challenges or the trauma they're experiencing on someone else. However, finger-pointing is highly detrimental and harmful. A revenge-seeking response to enormous difficulties is the most dysfunctional behavior of all, as it seeks to harm others. It prevents leaders from holding themselves accountable and finding the opportunity to learn from a challenge or failure.


Blaming others is also detrimental to teams. Leaders who blame build a belief system that scapegoating is okay. When everyone focuses on finding who is at fault to persecute them, nobody is prepared to see — and expect — the good in others.


Resilient leaders instead encourage everyone in their management team to celebrate the contributions of others while finding ways to fail forward. Employees who feel supported and who understand that mistakes are okay excel. Resilient leaders acknowledge their part when something goes wrong, accept it, and demonstrate how to move on — onwards and upwards! This type of leadership builds a company culture where people are recognized, supported, and celebrated.


Don't Dwell, Look for Opportunity.

Resilient leaders avoid victimization and vengeful response by choosing to see opportunities for growth and improvement — even in the most challenging situations, such as a pandemic, an international conflict, or economic collapse.


The most resilient leaders are also tenacious and empathetic. One of the world's most outstanding leaders, Nelson Mandela, is a lasting example of resilient leadership. After being imprisoned for 27 years, he became wiser, stronger, and more determined. Mandela's comeback took him to the Presidency of South Africa. Far from victimizing himself and exacting revenge on those responsible for his imprisonment, he learned how to persevere and lead with his experiences and learnings.


The key to resilient leadership is a simple belief — a shift in perspective from one of doom to one of opportunity. The enlightenment this brings can fuel your ambition, direction, and determination to face adversity as a leader who positively impacts others. Your leadership resilience will lead others away from desperation, doom, and dysfunction and toward enthusiasm, empathy, tenacity, and resolution.

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