The Key to Success: Resilience!

There is no question that these challenging times have caused all of us to step back and re-calibrate our lives, both personally and professionally.

I speak, on a regular basis, about great leadership in today’s environment. I was just featured on the TV show Washington Business Tonight and the anchor asked me what I saw as the greatest challenges in this current business environment. I shared with him that I was constantly hearing about one thing- over and over again… change. And there are three things I know for sure about change:

  1. The one thing constant is change. 
    Our organizations, our nation and the world have experienced enormous change in the past few months and will continue to see more change in the days to come. Why? The existing infrastructure and systems that our institutions, organizations and government have been using for decades now have basically outgrown the complexities and major shifts of our environment. Therefore, we are seeing more management intensity; leaders trying to get their hands around the “new” changes and attempting to re-build their systems to support the change. And, organizations that look at this time as an opportunity to re-invent themselves will become more effective and efficient to be stronger and more competitive in the future.
  2. With great change comes tremendous uncertainty. 
    There is no predictable future or recognized path to follow today. That’s why we are seeing less of the traditional strategic planning and more scenario planning. Organizations are re-defining their growth plans and realizing that the traditional ways of taking a product or service to market may no longer create a competitive advantage. New approaches requiring new skill sets are often threatening to those who are comfortable with the status quo. As a result, we are also seeing more stress, burnout and tremendous wariness within the workforce as a result of the uncertainly and lack of security for themselves and their families.
  3. Change creates the need to engage and retain our top talent. 
    This is when organizations need to fully engage their workforce to ensure a high level of accountability, focus and commitment. This is also when an organization’s retention strategies will be tested. Will they be able to retain their top talent and avoid those regrettable losses in order to maintain the muscle and institutional knowledge they need to be successful now and in the future?

These challenges require that leaders today create an environment of innovation and resilience. This means that leaders need to demonstrate the ability to re-invent themselves and their organizations, as well as give and provide the right support for their employees to do the same. I call this person the resilient leader.

How do you know when you see a resilient leader? My definition of resiliency is having the ability to re-coop from or adjust to misfortune or unpredictable change. The key characteristics of resilient leaders are flexibility, attitude of optimism, openness to learn and change, and the ability to overcome adversity.

There are 3 steps that I share with others for how to be resilient:

  1. Commitment: Get and stay clear about what is important to you. This can be driven by your values or based on an important goal or a vision that you have. Stay true to your commitments and focused on them through the challenging times.
  2. Action: Know you can control your own environment. Don’t wait for someone else to hand over the instruction booklet with the “how to’s” for you to accomplish or deal with something. Put a plan together and execute the plan. Pick up the phone and schedule a lunch with someone you know can provide some good advice or someone who should know about you, your value and how you can help them. Go back to school and take a course that will help you to get out of the old way of thinking. By taking small steps forward, you will personally feel more in control and won’t have to rely on someone else for your success. After all, you are the one who has all the answers.
  3. Challenge: Look at a challenge as an opportunity. Walk into the storm knowing that the future will be different and better. My personal experience is that the greatest challenges I have faced have created my greatest growth, and have strengthened both my competence and confidence. Challenge provides the opportunity for us to tap into our creative side where the best ideas reside.

Part of resiliency is knowing your strengths and recognizing what is holding you back. Resiliency is about understanding your “sticky floors”- those behaviors, beliefs and assumptions that can unknowingly be self-limiting, holding you back from achieving your greatest potential. Learn to lead with resiliency. You will need it to be successful and it will enable YOU to create the future!

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