The Secret for Today’s Leadership – Being Resilient!
By Rebecca Shambaugh
It’s pretty clear that in the past few years, organizations, institutions, and their leaders have been challenged to steer through unpredictable and turbulent circumstances. Our current business environment calls for a different kind of leader than in the past – one who can weather any kind of storm while effectively transitioning themselves and their organizations through times of great change and uncertainty. This calls for a leader that embraces and demonstrates the characteristics and traits of resilience.
What Is Resilience?
In my book, Leadership Secrets of Hillary Clinton, I define resilience and break it down into several core leadership dimensions that are based on my company’s sixteen years of leadership research and coaching experience with hundreds of executives who have had to navigate through challenging times, complex change, and severe adversity.
My simplest definition of resilience is the capacity to bounce back from misfortune, disruptive change, and failures. Being resilient is driven by our intrinsic qualities, attitudes, and behaviors. Everyone experiences disappointments and setbacks in their life. When these occur, the resilience factor is what gets us back in the game and keeps us pursuing our goals instead of becoming discouraged and giving up.
When tapping into your own resilience or looking at ways to cultivate a more resilient culture within your organization, try some of these secrets.
Secret No. 1: Understand Your Authentic Self
When you are faced with a great challenge or misfortune, what gets you through it successfully is knowing your true self, abilities, and desire to self-manage your own beliefs, assumptions, and behaviors. The more self-aware you are, the more true to yourself you can be. Identify your leadership values and principles and share them in a meaningful way with others in your organization. Align your words and actions so they demonstrate and support what is most important to you, and before you know it, you’ll have created your leadership “brand.”
Secret No. 2: Embracing Change
The one thing that is constant in life is change. Having coached many successful leaders, it’s clear what differentiates them from ineffective leaders is their ability to accept and adapt to change. When you are faced with change in your life it’s important to embrace it rather than rely upon old behaviors and ways of thinking and assumptions. Pay attention to how change can bring new opportunities for greater possibility – for you and your team. Avoid accepting the status quo and get curious. Why, what, how and who are the questions that you want to be asking. What’s the new vision? Who are the key stakeholders? How do they feel about the new change? And, how can I help implement the change and ensure it is sustained.
Secret No. 3: The Importance of Making Your Words Count
To inspire a more resilient workforce and achieve key results in our existing business climate, leaders need to ensure that everyone can easily understand and communicate the vision in terms of what it is, why it is worth the time and energy, and how they are going to make it happen. To do this they need to connect to people’s hearts and heads and inspire them to feel engaged around a powerful and shared vision or key goals. And when a difficult conversation needs to happen – have it! Resilient leaders have the courage to speak the truth. When you avoid speaking up you disempower your own leadership. The longer you wait to have a hard conversation the more emotional the conversation will be.
Secret No. 4: Build Bridges for Results
Today’s great leaders understand the importance of connectedness as an opportunity for dynamic and productive partnerships that can address both the challenges and the promises of this new century. They are successful by being able to create an incredibly broad and diverse sphere of relationships around them that represent six degrees of separation with so many other people they have around them. Be willing to get out of your comfort zones and reach outside of your usual circles and expand your networks by spending time outside your comfort zone Sometimes the best connections are the least expected.
Secret No. 5: Gaining Smart Power
Resilient leaders and their teams must be able to draw on a wealth of knowledge and experience and apply these insights to new situations and then decide wisely. Smart Power means the ability to continuously learn new things and adapt to new situations while capitalizing on the knowledge and intelligence of others around you. Determine those few things that are ultimately most important and decide how you define “success.” Then, step outside your vacuum and take prudent risks to embrace new challenges, learn new things, and increase the breadth of current skill sets. Ask the right questions about any given situation in order to be better prepared to speak about something, make a smarter decision or act with greater confidence.
Disruptive Change is a Fact of Life
Regardless if you are at the top of your organization, leading a team, or volunteering in your community, you are sure to face a difficult situation or disruptive change. It’s just a fact of life. And you will have the choice to become discouraged and avoid the difficult situation or embrace it as a professional growth opportunity and face it head on. Resilient leaders will do the latter and will courageously take on these challenges while developing greater competence, confidence, and wisdom in the process. I do believe that human beings have more control of our destiny and success than sometimes we think we do. This control starts with our own self-knowledge and is supported by both our connections and our willingness to be a continuous learner. It also calls for deep thought, careful planning, intentional action and awesome communication.
So begin today by determining how these leadership secrets can help you to become a resilient leader. And then be the torch for others to follow your example!
Rebecca Shambaugh is President and CEO of SHAMBAUGH, www.shambaughleadership.com, and the author of Leadership Secrets of Hillary Clinton and It’s Not a Glass Ceiling, It’s a Sticky Floor.
To view the article online at Anita Borg, click here