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Resilience provides us with an effective psychological buffer that helps to protect us from unexpected setbacks,
What makes a Leader a Resilient Leader?
It’s all in the mind.
The mindset of the resilient leader is drastically different to the mindset of less resilient colleagues, and it makes all the difference.
Resilience provides us with an effective psychological buffer that helps to protect us from unexpected setbacks, serious life events, ongoing stress, pressure at work and burnout. A growing body of research shows that people build resilience by learning and using skills that help to develop a positive mindset. This resilient mindset guides decisions and behaviour that enable people to thrive under pressure and maximize performance.
Resilient leaders have certain ways of thinking about themselves, about their role in life and about adversity, which are remarkably different to the ways less resilient people think about such things. Their pro-resilience mindset affects their feelings, and in turn, their feelings affect their decisions and their behaviour.
1) Resilient leaders are realistically positive as well as understandably troubled during difficult times.
When they face challenges and setbacks, less resilient leaders tend to feel overwhelmed by negativity, they expect more things to go wrong, and they focus on their bad experiences. Resilient leaders are different – they admit to feeling bad when unwelcome events happen, but – as well – they think optimistically, feel relief that, for example, things aren’t even worse, and feel positive emotions. In time they will often see a silver lining even in their most difficult experiences.
2) Resilient leaders prioritise energising activities within their busy lives.
Just as Olympic athletes recognise the need to take time off from working on achieving their goals by having regular periods of rest and relaxation, resilient, successful leaders also respect their own need for restorative activities. They make decisions to ensure that they regularly incorporate whatever energises them – such as physical exercise, interests, and social contacts – as part of their routine. Less resilient people allow the pressures of work to squeeze out these all-important activities, often claiming lack of time or energy. In contrast, the pro-resiliency mindset includes a clear awareness that it is precisely when it seems that there is no time for such activities that it is crucial to make time for them as this is when they are needed the most.
3) Resilient leaders have a survivor mentality.
When faced with adversity, setbacks and challenges, they expect that they will get through the difficult period of life and adapt to any changes they experience. They recognise that life evolves and that change is inevitable, sometimes in predictable, welcome ways but at other times changes will be in unpredictable and demanding. The pro-resilience mindset is a realistically optimistic mindset, and includes a clear expectation that – no matter how challenging – the crisis will have a beginning, a middle and an end, and in all likelihood, the person facing it will have the capacity to survive and cope.
4) Resilient leaders know how they can take charge of a situation
Even when it seems that circumstances or other people are controlling their situation, resilient leaders know they can make choices which affect what happens. They don’t waste time, energy or emotion wishing they could change other people – that’s impossible! Instead they put their efforts into changing their own response to the situations they face. They draw on skills to manage the intensity of their emotions, as well as making use of their strong problem-solving skills. They are also aware that if they need to develop more coping strategies, they seek to learn and strengthen their resilience skills.
5) Resilient leaders value their social connections.
Having a pro-resilience mindset includes being willing to being open with friends and family when things go wrong or when pressure is tough to manage. A support network is one of many resources available to people. Resilient leaders are clear about who they can call on for support when times are tough, they connect with such people to express their emotions, to gain other perspectives on their difficulties and to discuss solutions – in the knowledge that they would themselves be available as support if needed.
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.