In leadership terms, we define Resilience as the ability to adapt in the face of multiple changes while continuing to persevere toward strategic goals. In our very dynamic work environment, leaders must build their resilience and they must also help their employees become more resilient.
As a leader, you actually become different based on the changing environment. Most people, after a period of adjustment, bounce back to their previous level of happiness no matter what happens to them. This seems hard to believe but had been proven true (and if you're curious about how resilient you are, you can take a quick online assessment by CLICKING HERE).
Think about someone you have worked with that you respected but they did not navigate challenge well? How does the undesirable behavior impact you and your ability to function? Here is a story of one of my clients.
I worked with a very talented woman who, when under pressure tended to get sick because she did not have a system to manage the stress. Additionally, she berated her staff regularly causing them to become disengaged. She would obsess about what others had done and over a short time be out sick. She was very unhappy in her job, more unhappy than was reasonable based on her situation.
The good news is over time she developed stronger coping skills and she has a much greater capacity to manage the same level of stress. Some of the things she did were: work out regularly, start meditating, begin a regular practice of reflecting on her behaviors and thoughts at the end of each day, and build stronger relationships with her boss, her colleagues and her subordinates. All of these activities contributed to improved physical health and also greatly improved her ability to motivate her team and produce higher quality work and enjoy working with their leader again.
We break resilience into four primary categories:
- Maintain Physical Wellbeing
- Direct Mental Perspective
- Fulfill Life Purpose While Living Your Values
- Harness the Power of Connection
Each of these categories is interlinked with the others. It is hard to think clearly if you are physically unhealthy and so on. As you think of yourself as a leader, it is important to remember that maintaining personal resilience is as important as building other business or organizational skills.
Maintain Physical Wellbeing
According to Gallup, "Those with high physical wellbeing simply have more energy to get more done in less time. They are more likely to be in a good mood, thus boosting the engagement of their colleagues and customers." This category is one we often best understand and yet give limited focus to.
One of the key goals in maintaining physical wellbeing is managing the amount and impact of stress. Key to body resilience: Build daily routines that help your body recover from stress. These routines should include the following:
- Get enough sleep for your body
- Exercise 6 days per week
- Eat a healthy diet
- Limit caffeine
- Eliminate nicotine
- Reflect & relax
- Take time in nature
Directing Mental Perspective
Mental perspective of resilience is based on our attitudes, beliefs, and assumptions rather than knowledge. Negative and inflexible thinking prevents the ability to see the big picture and to find creative and alternative routes toward a goal. The key to mental resilience:
- Question assumptions,
- Manage attitudes and beliefs,
- Manage your internal conversations,
- Maintain a positive attitude toward challenge,
- Believe you have control over your own life,
- Commit to a make sense of your experience in a way that gives them meaning and value.
Fulfill Life Purpose While Living Your Values
Having a strong sense of life purpose and aligning your activities with that purpose creates a strong foundation for wellbeing. Emotional intelligence accounts for 85-90% of the difference between outstanding leaders and their more average peers. Emotional intelligence is a major factor in accomplishing life purpose. Key areas of focus:
- Social awareness
- Relationship management
Keys to purpose and emotional resilience: Have a clear life purpose, develop skills in self-management, and appreciate and work with your emotions regularly.
Harness the Power of Connection
The ability to interact with other people with awareness, empathy, and skillfulness and to experience closeness is vital in building resilience. Keys to connection: invest time in key relationships and build the necessary skills to relate with others such as communication and empathy.
According to Gallup "Those without a best friend in the workplace have just a 1 in 12 chance of being engaged. Social relationships at work have also been shown to boost employee retention, safety, work quality and customer engagement." This research represents a significant shift in views of friendships at work and the importance of developing strong connections, yet the research is clear – investing the time in connection improves our work and our work environment.
By tending to all four categories of resilience concurrently, you will have a much greater capacity to deal with the challenges that come your way. You will be a better leader and a better participant and you will feel physically stronger and more at ease emotionally. And again, to gauge your level of resilience, CLICK HERE to take a quick free online assessment to see how your resilience behaviors stack up).
- Maureen Metcalf at thoughtLEADERS, LLC