5 Facets of Resilient Leadership

Leadership is an action not a position.
Resilience is the ability to bounce back or recover from something quickly.

Resilient Leadership = the action of a leader who bounces beyond whatever set him or her back. Resilient leadership is transitioning to new roles and adjusting to new circumstances with confidence. Resilient leadership is inspiring your team to be productive even when it seems impossible.

Leaders face changes and daily challenges that can hijack emotions, drain energy, and redirect attention. Leaders constantly make decisions and try new things. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. For successful leaders, resilience is essential.

Here are five facets of Resilient Leadership:

  1. Facing Fear – “I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.” Nelson Mandela. Feel the fear and do it anyway! Leadership is not easy. Impossible choices and agonizing decisions must be made. The key is in the triumph over the fear as you repeatedly face it and conquer it each time.
  2. Realistic Optimism – seeing the glass exactly as it is while recognizing the possibility of adding ice, mixers or whatever else you want to the glass! This is especially important in strategic planning. Believing something will get done just because the leader wants it done may be optimistic but not realistic. We’ve worked with leaders who pile more and more and more on their teams because of their overly optimistic perspective.
  3. Helpful Habits. Resilient leadership involves intentional habits that create excellence. For example, start every day with a decision about the most important thing that must be done and commit to do it. Or block out regular thinking time, or create an intentional morning routine. Evaluate your habits and determine whether they are creating excellence or excess.
  4. No Rumination. Going over and over and over something in your head is not helpful. You can’t change the past, so focus on the future and what you WILL do, not what you could have done. Resilient leadership means handling difficulties in ways that foster strength and growth, not frustration.
  5. Celebrate Learning – rather than focusing on failing fast, resilience involves learning from both success and failure. Leaders with a growth mindset look at challenges and change as a motivator to increase effort and learning. Carol Dweck’s work on growth mindset taught us about the importance of believing you can always get better. Brains and talent are a starting point, but lasting abilities are developed through dedication and hard work.

Resilient leadership is a practice. Improve your capacity to deal with change and challenge by increasing your resilience through the application of these five facets. Don’t just bounce back, bounce beyond the change and challenge.

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