What organizations need now more than ever are resilient leaders willing to be bold and lead their people through change. Times are disruptive. Employee morale may be at its lowest level in years. We are all still recovering from the effects of the pandemic.
Unfortunately, the burden rests on the shoulders of leaders. But you can lead your people through these unprecedented times by developing and displaying the qualities of resilient leaders throughout the ages.
Harvard Business School Professor Nancy Koehn states:
“Resilience is the capacity to not only endure great challenges but get stronger in the midst of them. This is such an extraordinarily important capability because we live in a world that’s one nonstop crisis—one calamity, one emergency, one unexpected, often difficult surprise—after another, like waves breaking on the shore.”
By becoming resilient you communicate power and commitment to your people and enable them to do more than they could on their own. Let’s look at the qualities you need to become a bold and resilient leader.
Characteristics of Bold & Resilient Leaders
Everyone is watching you. Are you watching yourself? One of the most difficult tasks of leaders is to be self-aware. When surveyed, people think they have high levels of self-awareness, but when tested, the percentage of people with true self-awareness is low.
Self-awareness makes you an observer of your actions and emotional responses. You take back a measure of control over how you respond to the events that happen in your life. The most interesting outcome of self-awareness is that it actually makes you more open and empathic to others, allowing you to communicate with them more effectively.
Self-awareness is a key trait in becoming more resilient because you understand how you respond to stress and recognize the stressors in your life. Knowing your stressors allows you to build systems to manage their impact on your performance.
Delegates to Develop
In order to accomplish great outcomes and inspire the people around you, you must focus on your strengths and what the organization really needs from you. This will require you to delegate those tasks to keep you from doing those high-priority-focused actions.
Delegation is difficult because we are fearful others won’t do the tasks up to our standards. Guess what? They won’t be. In fact, it may be better, and it will always be different. Don’t despair over this. Rather than delegating to remove work from your plate, view delegation with a second purpose — team development. You allow your people to develop new and deeper skills when they take on your tasks. Yes, they may not do it perfectly the first time, but you can coach them through the task and have conversations on how to improve.
Once your people develop the skills to tackle tasks that once distracted you, you’ve increased your own workload capacity and the teams.
Confronts with Compassion
Confrontation is a necessary part of leadership. While there may be a handful of leaders who relish the opportunity to prove themselves right and put others in their place, the majority of us dread those difficult conversations. In fact, the leader who finds joy in “toxic” confrontation creates a culture of fear and easily diminishes morale throughout the organization.
Rather than going into a difficult conversation without preparation, it is helpful to have frameworks that you can practice and role-play. When we work with clients in confrontation training, having a framework you can fall back onto when having a discussion creates confidence, and immediately empowers the conversation. Also, remember to make confrontation a conversation where you hold accountable but seek to understand. The goal is to change behavior and hold responsible but due so with respect and honor, so the relationship stays intact.
When you read biographies on great leaders throughout history, you rarely find one who isn’t a reader and continuous learner. Building on the other competency of self-awareness, part of focused learning should always be to enhance areas of weaknesses. Being curious and willing to expand your knowledge base even outside your industry and areas of expertise. Often the best ideas related to innovation come from interacting with spheres outside our normal work.
Being a continuous learner also means having a growth mindset. Rather than living in a fixed world where no improvement can occur, you deeply believe change is possible in yourself and others. This motivation is what drives you to explore and continue to learn.
Learn to see every challenge and obstacle as the ability to grow and become stronger, more resilient, and bold in action.
It may be an urban legend, but Albert Einstein is reported to have said “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results.” This accurately describes why leaders are willing to change and take risks. Even the best plans and operational strategies miss the mark. Everyone may be working productively and following plans at a high level, but metrics don’t seem to move. You aren’t getting closer to your objectives.
This is where leadership is needed. Leaders must step in and make the best decisions to shift course. This is often seen by those inside the organization as risky, but staying put and doing the same unproductive action is a greater risk.
Taking risks and communicating those changes clearly to your team is the hallmark of a great leader. Sharing a vision of where the new changes will take them and how it will improve their own performance will garner support and build motivation.
Resilient leaders are optimistic regarding their people and the future of the organization. This is not pollyanna positive thinking where you ignore reality with fake smiles. That type of positive thinking can easily be labeled as “toxic positive”. You place a veneer of optimism on a bad situation without taking action to make things better.
The true optimist has a vision of a better tomorrow, recognizes the challenges, and makes the necessary changes to get to that vision. Communicating this type of optimism is magnetic and encourages people to follow your lead because you are supporting them to reach their goals regardless of the obstacles they may encounter.
Communicates with Clarity
In a recent Interact/Harris poll, 91% of 1000 employees believe their leaders lack good communication skills. The biggest problem with communication is we all tend to make it one way. For communication to have the clarity it needs to persuade, inspire, or instruct it must be part of a conversation. You have to understand to be understood.
Most of us know this but in the rush to distribute instructions or deliver information we often communicate with the assumption that we are being understood. To communicate with clarity, we must always check to see if our message is being heard. This can only happen through conversation.
People are your number one asset in your organization. Just like any asset, it can grow or possibly become a liability. A resilient leader builds a resilient team by deepening the skills and talents of the team.
Relationships can drive progress toward objectives. You bring others along your resilient journey by building trust and being open to differences. When you deepen the relationship with your people, they will be willing to make dramatic changes and accomplish outcomes they could never have done on their own.
The Fierce Summary
Becoming a resilient leader can dramatically improve the quality of your employees and team members. You become the example they mirror. Your resilience and boldness begin to rub off and create a culture that becomes stress-proof and focused on achieving growth and objectives.
As we researched the qualities of the resilient leader, we noticed something and if you followed Fierce you might have noticed as well. Many of those qualities embody the Fierce leader that is the focus of all Fierce programming and the Leader’s Journey we help organizations build.
If you are looking to build resilience in yourself and your team, check out the resources inside our Leader’s Journey.