There is a lot of focus now on becoming a resilient leader at a time when leaders are facing challenges that most of us didn’t know existed just a few short years ago. Large sections of our workforces have experienced a significant mindset change, for example, as a result of the Covid pandemic. Many workplaces now facilitate remote and hybrid working patterns and people want different things from their jobs than they did pre-pandemic.
These changes coupled with the same demands on leaders and managers for productivity place significant strain on a person’s resilience. These leaders are also expected to build resilient, high performing teams in the midst of all this challenge. In my previous blog post, I wrote about how a resilient leader is the foundation of a resilient team. In most cases, there can not be a resilient team, nor a high performing one, without a resilient leader.
It is the leader who sets the tone in the team. It is difficult to envisage a resilient team where the leader is flailing under the demands placed on him/her. So, there is added importance on becoming a resilient leader if you lead a team.
Yet, all these changes in working practices and employee mindset probably act as a drain on resilience, putting constant pressure on the leader to perform. So, given these resilience sapping challenges, how can we seriously talk about becoming a resilient leader?
Fortunately, it is possible to develop the skills needed to be a resilient leader.
What does a resilient leader do?
Becoming a resilient leader is something we can all work on and improve. It doesn’t have to be a daunting task, as many may think. Look at it this way, the reward for committing to becoming a resilient leader is that your team is much more likely to develop resilience and self-reliance if you lead the way. So, there is a lot to be gained by setting off on this journey.
Your journey to becoming a resilient leader may involve reframing some attitudes and developing or enhancing some very learnable skills. These skills may include learning how to deal positively with change, developing strategies to recover from setbacks and knowing how to keep pressing on in the face of adversity. Resilient leadership is about continuing to lead others with empathy, courage and conviction when in the midst of challenge and change.
Becoming a Resilient Leader
There are many things you can do to enhance your resilience as a leader. The list below is by no means exhaustive. They are simply some key development suggestions to help you on your way.
- Reframe obstacles as challenges
This requires a change in mindset. Many people will see obstacles as the end of their efforts as it appears, to them, insurmountable and time to give up. This mindset only serves to stifle your growth and undermines your resilience.
Learn to view the obstacle as a challenge to be overcome. A problem to be solved. While it may be a significant obstacle, it is still only a bump in the road to be navigated and learned from. This will develop your curiosity and creativity. You will become more innovative and resilient because you will learn that most obstacles can be resolved. You will also develop an interest in dealing with the obstacle, solving the problem and achieving the satisfaction of moving on beyond it.
- Enhance your focus and discipline
Part of this problem-solving approach will bring the opportunity to enhance your focus and discipline when in challenging situations. To develop this skill, look for ways to reorganise and streamline your work. For example, you can sit down with your team to discuss a major project. In this meeting, you should seek to clarify expectations and define roles in the project while also focusing on the project schedule. Your aim should be to manage this schedule with your team towards early completion of the project. This avoids last minute resilience sapping stress and upset.
- Develop wellness rituals
Your health is your wealth. A statement that we are all familiar with and one that should resonate with us all. If you are serious about becoming a resilient leader, then you need to give your own health and well-being some attention. This can be as simple as going to the gym regularly (develop a routine and try to stick to it), making your bedroom a rest haven and making sure you get good sleep, or going out for regular brisk walks. Or simply, get outside and get some fresh air.
Of course, wellness is not all about fitness. It is also about making sure you have sufficient ‘down’ time’ away from work and developing a healthy worklife balance.
- Redefine your work-life balance
Your work-life balance plays a key role in building your resilience, even though the term has almost fallen out of fashion these days. You constantly need to redefine your work-life balance needs as the demands on your time and resources change.
- Learn that stress can be positive
We have become conditioned to view stress as a negative experience and as something we need to either significantly reduce or eliminate from our lives. Either of these are difficult to achieve and can even lead to increased stress.
Instead of focusing on eliminating stress, try to reframe how you experience it. Learn to view stress as a challenge so you can use your strengths, experience and skill to overcome it. This will help you build resilience and develop self-awareness.
- Learn to regularly reflect
Self-reflection will allow you to explore and realise your strengths and development needs as well as developing self-awareness. Set time aside to regularly reflect on your actions, decisions and behaviour so you can learn from things you do well and your past mistakes. It’s a great way to fully realise your strengths and how to adapt your approach when facing challenging situations.
- Embrace continuous learning and development
Earlier in this article, I mentioned that resilience is a skill that can be developed and learned. It can be enhanced and strengthened over time or you can neglect it and let it diminish and grow weaker.
Leaders need to embrace continuous learning and development to build their understanding of the changing world around them and how they should respond and lead their team through these changes. By doing this, leaders can learn how to approach challenging and stressful situations more positively, sending a clear message to their team with a sense of direction and certainty.
- Delegate more
Delegate more but do it with two clear intentions. The first intention is to help you avoid multitasking with too many demands on your time, building in some time for you to reflect and recharge. The second intention is that you must delegate with the aim of building the knowledge and skills, and therefore resilience, of your team.
Of course, you need to clear unimportant, nonurgent work from your agenda. When doing this, however, consider who you are delegating it to so you are stretching and developing your team members whenever possible. Obviously, not all delegated tasks are going to be stretch tasks for others. Clear and honest communication about the task is needed.
- Learn to deal with reality
Optimism is important in becoming a resilient leader. However, you must not allow your optimism to distort reality. To move forward, you must deal with reality, adapting and responding and becoming increasingly resilient.
What are you doing to become a resilient leader? Click here to learn more about my 2-hour Resilient Leadership Masterclass.