In today’s rapidly changing, complex and dynamic world, resilience is a critical success skill.
The more resilient people are, the more successfully they respond and adapt to change. Add to this the increases in creativity, productivity and performance that have been linked to resilience, and it is easy to see why this essential leadership skill is a must.
The good news is that resilience is a package of skills and behaviors you can learn and develop whatever your age, circumstance or experience.
Highly resilient people follow a pattern:
- Crisis brings out the best in them.
- They turn challenges into opportunities.
- They take control and accountability.
- They are curious and enjoy trying out new things and experiences.
Resilient people have a powerful purpose that gives meaning to their actions. When you know your why and all your choices are aligned with your values and purpose, the how will look after itself.
Some of the essential elements and dimensions of resilience are
- Optimism and vision
- Solution orientation and effectiveness
- Responsiveness, openness and flexibility
- Supportiveness and managing stress and anxiety
Optimism and vision
Optimism encourages people to feel positive about themselves and other people. Optimists see the good in everything and everyone, and they believe things are getting better all the time. As a result, they feel good about change and tend to be more confident that they will be able to cope with what lies ahead. They look for the lesson and gift in every situation rather than being paralyzed by it. When things go really wrong, they look for ways of reframing the situation. Optimists have a strong self-belief, a can-do attitude and a positive approach to the most adverse circumstances. Optimism is an energizing force.
Three keys to developing an optimistic mindset are
- Managing your thoughts
- Managing your words
- Managing your physiological/emotional state
A visionary leader is one who provides a clear, coherent and compelling picture of the future, thus installing optimism and a sense of direction throughout the team. Vision is critical, especially when the marketplace is complex and dynamic. Vision provides a sense of purpose, something to work toward and a feeling of stability in ambiguous times.
Solution orientation and effectiveness
People with a solution orientation mindset are good at anticipating challenges. They see them coming a long way off and start planning how to avoid or eliminate them. Undaunted by the unfamiliar, they focus on the approaching challenge to find the best possible solution. They have the ability to make decisions, influence others and manage performance.
People who demonstrate individual accountability feel a strong sense of self-worth and self-regard. They are impeccable with their word. They are excited by challenges and view difficult situations as steppingstones rather than roadblocks. They strive to be the master rather than the victim.
Empowering leaders encourage freedom within a framework. They set people up to succeed rather than throw them in at the deep end. They develop strong positive cultures; they stretch and coach people; they delegate interesting and rewarding work to their teams; and they encourage people to take accountability, while always remaining ultimately accountable themselves.
Responsiveness, openness and flexibility
Resilient people are open-minded and flexible. They have the ability to tolerate and thrive in ambiguous situations. They learn from success and failure, and they listen well and empathize with others’ points of view. They are open to the idea of multiple paths to success rather than buy into the idea of only one right answer.
Supportiveness and managing stress and anxiety
Stress is a force, which, if not managed, neutralized and eliminated, can seriously impact a person’s health, and therefore his or her ability to perform. Up to a certain level, stress is a positive motivational source. It’s an energizer that encourages us to act, stay out of danger’s way and make things happen. Beyond this, it runs the risk of being debilitating. Acute and chronic stress make up 80% of visits to the doctor.
Supportive leaders recognize that change can be stressful. They understand and recognize the pressures team members face and help them cope with these pressures. They listen and help people manage their anxiety. They are compassionate and believe in the power of recovery time and work-life balance.
This blog is adapted from the 2018 MDRT Annual Meeting presentation “The resilience advantage: Essential elements for success in today’s marketplace.” Also available in audio. Both are exclusive to MDRT members only.
Julie Lewis is a world-class adventurer who changes and challenges the way people think, act and dream. She is the author of “Moving Mountains.”