Jo Geraghty


Guest Article – Using Resilience to Pressure-Proof Talented Leaders

Date added: 29th Sep 2015
Category: Leadership

Resilient leaders relish and thrive on (or at least cope with) challenges, adversity and crises

Challenges, adversity, crises, uncertainty…how do you react?

All leaders face pressures in their personal and working lives. That’s normal. The important issue is not that they face pressures but how they react to them – whether they respond in ways which exacerbate problems or whether they use resilience skills which help to shield and ‘pressure-proof’ the leader from potential negative effects of pressure.

Resilient leaders relish and thrive on (or at least cope with) challenges, adversity and crises. Overcoming such pressures leads to a high level of confidence, self-respect and a sense of being in control of emotions. Resilient leaders do not feel daunted and overwhelmed by challenges, instead they are realistically positive about their ability to cope. Consequently they make good decisions which lead to success.

However, leaders who have not learned how to build resilience, or who have developed resilience but failed to sustain it, often risk destructive levels of frustration, anxiety and/or depression when they face adversity. They feel vulnerable to pressure, to change, to others’ decisions and they feel there is much happening which is beyond their own control.

The main threats to thriving in corporate life come from the following:

  • High and unremitting workloads that can lead to burn-out
  • Disappointment and failure from not meeting targets or deadlines, missing out on a promotion or job application
  • Fear of failure leading to seeking the ‘safe’ option and staying in one’s comfort zone, resulting in a lack of progress and lack of success
  • Damaged self-esteem, ego and self-worth from being criticised in public or from a poor performance review, leading to a lack of confidence
  • Conflict and aggressive colleagues resulting in frustration, helplessness and anger
  • Feelings of being isolated or rejected by colleagues from being excluded from key conversations, high profile teams or meetings
  • Fears of, or actual, organisational change exacerbating anxieties regarding the unpredictability inherent in facing change
  • Feelings of insecurity regarding the potential loss of responsibility, status, or job role and fear of the consequences of these events
  • Loss of confidence resulting in self-doubt and ‘imposter syndrome’.

You may well have experienced some – or all – of the above.

Your options as to how you respond to such pressures will depend on your skill set. If you have a wide repertoire of resilience skills to draw on, you’re in an ideal position, as applying resilience skills to address such events is constructive. Resilience helps to pressure-proof leaders. It enables you to redirect and leverage pressure into positive, creative drive. Developing a pro-resilience mindset helps you to thrive under pressure, remaining very focused and productive.

Encouragingly, resilience can be learned, and even if a person is already resilient, it is almost always possible to develop it further and increase its effectiveness and positive impact. Key to becoming more resilient is to monitor your thinking, your feelings and your behaviour, as the way we think affects how we feel and what we do. People often unwittingly develop thinking habits which promote a passive, negative mindset resulting in weak decision-making skills and poor outcomes. It is crucial to become aware of this vicious cycle if it is occurring, as we can only take control of, and change it if we are aware of it. Once your awareness is raised, skills can be developed to retrain your thinking habits in order to be more resilient and – crucially – to make decisions and take actions based on your increased resilience. As a result, you will face and deal with pressures differently and you will be more pressure-proof as a leader.

Rose Aghdami is an expert on resilience and helping people change their lives. She provides a range of opportunities for individuals, teams and companies to benefit from her expertise. She helps leaders build resilience to prevent burnout, thrive under pressure and maximise their performance. Companies benefit from her strategies to help them dramatically reduce the costs associated with staff burnout.  She is leading an event on 13 November  –Click Here  for more information and to book 

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