Article: Effective leadership through resilience


Effective leadership through resilience

Resilience is an individual competency and leaders who are resilient have some unique traits. They see failures only as temporary setbacks from which they can recover quickly. During periods of turbulence they maintain a positive attitude and a positive outlook with a strong sense of opportunity.
Effective leadership through resilience

Resilience: [ ri-zil-yuhns, -zil-ee-uhns ]


the power or ability of a material to return to its original form, position, etc., after being bent, compressed, or stretched; elasticity.

the ability of a person to adjust to or recover readily from illness, adversity, major life changes, etc.; buoyancy.

the ability of a system or organization to respond to or recover readily from a crisis, disruptive process, etc.


Resilience is an individual competency and leaders who are resilient have some unique traits. They see failures only as temporary setbacks from which they can recover quickly. During periods of turbulence they maintain a positive attitude and a positive outlook with a strong sense of opportunity. And when faced with ambiguity in a VUCAD environment, they find ways to move forward and avoid getting stuck with baggage. Many studies have highlighted the importance of resilience as both an individual leadership trait as well as an overall organizational characteristic. Needless to say, when comparing the leadership effectiveness of the most resilient leaders to the least resilient leaders, the bar graph for the most resilient leaders showed a significant spike with an approximately 75% differential.

Let’s look at 7 ways by which effective leaders demonstrate resilience

They communicate powerfully

Some people often choose to act individually and do not inform others about what they intend to do or are trying to do. Imagine this, when driving down the highway, we always appreciate it when people signal before they change lanes or overtake. Signalling as an act lets other drivers know your intentions and give them a sense of security and safety. Similarly, the most resilient leaders are effective at proactively communicating their intentions to others. They are willing to help others comprehend a new strategy or understand a new direction. This strong and effective communication of theirs’ helps others understand upcoming changes, expectations and new directions thereby subsequently managing it.

They are open and receptive

Openness and receptivity are two differentiating traits of a resilient leader. Resilient leaders are humble, they are open to feedback and they often ask others for feedback, across hierarchies. They also demonstrate openness to learning. Plus, once feedback is given to them, they also demonstrate a real zeal and sustained effort to improve their skills and abilities in the gap areas. Leaders who are open and receptive consequently develop a high level of self-awareness. All of these traits make them coachable throughout their careers which further fuels their productivity and their leadership effectiveness.

They invest in lasting relationships

Great leaders bring people together. Resilient leadership happens when leaders bring others along. They are able to create strong teams by continuously building trust, being open to differences and developing strong relationships with all stakeholders. This becomes a differentiating factor in ensuring effectiveness because while an individual person may be willing to make a dramatic change, it requires strong positive relationships to get all stakeholders to support any change.

They take bold risks

Resilient leaders are inclined and ready to try new ideas and take bold risks. While it is easy for many leaders to be comfortable placed in an ivory tower in which they continue to conduct work in the same way year on year, it is an approach that rarely works well when the business environment changes, requiring leaders and organizations to do or die. In the context of a VUCAD business environment, resilient leaders are not afraid to take bold risks and usher in bold changes.

They develop others

There is mounting evidence that the most resilient leaders are not only interested in their own development but they are equally concerned about the development of others. They not only own their own development but that of others also.  Resiliency is most needed when we encounter failure. Hence developing others helps everyone to learn from their mistakes and take course corrective actions. Noticeably it has been observed that leaders who want honest feedback for themselves are more likely to give constructive feedback to others and act their coach.

They champion change

In today’s business environment disruptive change is a business reality. Resilient leaders are amenable to change and demonstrate willingness to change. Owing to the embracement of the above, they are able to provide the requisite leadership to ensure that the organization also adapts to the change happening in the environment. To provide this kind of leadership, one needs clarity of vision and courage to steer the entire organization towards change.  

They are firmly decisive

Decision making is a complex paradox which is difficult to unravel. It is so because no person has all the data or the comprehension of all the data or an understanding of all possible eventualities. However the truth is also; that organizations cannot move forward until a decision gets made. The most resilient leaders are effective at making decisions and moving forward by sticking to the decision. They do not suffer from decision paralysis. And, in case they realize they have made a wrong decision, they are quick to make a different decision and move in another direction. The proverb by Cato "Swift and resolute action leads to success; self-doubt is a prelude to disaster” fits well for them in ensuring effectiveness.

Resilience is a critical characteristic of high-performing leaders who are out there to create a tangible business impact and leave a legacy behind. It is highly imperative that all leaders must cultivate resilience to grow and thrive in a VUCAD environment.

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Topics: Leadership, Leadership Development, Leadership Solutions, #GuestArticle

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