Seven Traits of a Resilient Leader
Every successful leader has encountered a challenging scenario at some point in their career. The unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic, however, has forced leaders to face unforeseen new challenges. With the pandemic’s colossal impact on operations, workforces, profits and supply chains across the globe, all eyes are on leadership to guide their businesses through this crisis. Resilient Leader
Resilient leaders are generally seen as more effective, making them an asset to any business; but what is resilience and how can it be applied to your management skills?
What is Resilience?
Resilience is the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties; it is a further evolution of stress management. This makes it a “no brainer” as to why resilience is such a popular concept in today’s business environment. Many businesses are pushing the concept of resilience as a way of helping workers better cope with the stresses and strains of the modern-day office and unlock their performance potential.
In this article, we look at seven essential qualities that characterise resilient leaders, and how to increase your resilience. In general, resilient leaders:
- Show empathy
- Are adaptable and able to improvise
- Are self-aware and open to feedback
- Take calculated risks
- Keep a positive attitude
- Develop others
- Communicate effectively
1. Resilient Leaders Show Empathy
COVID-19 has generated one of the greatest challenges and, simultaneously, one of the greatest opportunities for resilient leaders – at all levels. According to a Gallup U.S poll, six in 10 people are “very” or “somewhat worried” that they or a family member will be exposed to COVID-19 (Gallup, 2020). During this crisis, emotional management is even more crucial than ever. According to studies carried out by Development Dimensions International (DDI), empathy is the most critical leadership skill. Leaders who display compassion, authenticity and vulnerability – and are capable of apologising when they’re wrong and handle criticism without blame – create strong emotional bonds with their teams (DDI, 2020).
The most resilient (and effective) leaders can demonstrate empathy and a high level of emotional intelligence. When your team feels understood, they feel more motivated and more confident to contribute cultivating stronger conversations, ideas and debate. As Mark Cuban shared in a recent interview: “How you treat your employees today will have more impact on your brand in future years than any amount of advertising, any amount of anything you literally could do” (Just Capital, 2020).
2. Resilient Leaders Are Adaptable
With COVID-19 infecting approximately 311,641 people in the UK alone, health officials suggested using hand sanitiser as the easiest way to prevent the spread of the disease. Consequently, these announcements led to panic buying (Euronews, 2020). In this type of situation, a resilient leader should be able to visualise this action as an opportunity – for example, dozens of spirit manufacturers across the UK started to produce hand sanitisers (i.e. BrewDog and Leith Gin). This is a classic example of an instant attitude adjustment – looking at what they can do as opposed to what they can’t (Telegraph, 2020).
When faced with change, resilient leaders can focus on the things within their business that they can still control. Whether impacted by new technologies, environmental challenges or even ethical dilemmas, the modern business landscape is always changing. A resilient leader needs to be flexible and adaptable to succeed. Is flexibility part of your leadership style?
3. Resilient Leaders Are Self-Aware and Coachable
According to Health Care Business Today, self-awareness and coachability are “The Two Most Important Leadership Traits” (Health Care Business Today, 2019). We think so, too. Resilient leaders are self-aware, confident, and most of all, able to recognise their strengths and overcome their weaknesses. Resilient leaders are open to feedback, ask for feedback and are always demonstrating a real effort to improve.
4. Resilient Leaders Take Calculated Risks
Successful leaders earned their success through taking calculated risks. When Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos launched AmazonFresh, he was scrutinised by others because he didn’t choose a successful delivery or supermarket executive to run the venture. Instead, Bezos selected a team that had previously run a web-based food delivery service in the ‘90s (which collapsed after two years in business). Why? Bezos knew that the team had learned from their failure, which made them the perfect choice to succeed with a new project.
Resilient leaders like Bezos take calculated risks while accepting that failure is a by-product of innovation and success. They learn to become comfortable with being uncomfortable, and flourish as the world changes around them.
5. Resilient Leaders Can Keep a Positive Mindset
The impact of COVID-19 is tough to manage. It is vital to have a positive mindset that can influence fellow professionals and raise team morale while maintaining business momentum.
Under the challenging circumstances posed by the COVID-19 crisis, a resilient leader needs to be enthusiastic, offer praise for success, and give credit when it’s due. American psychologist Carol Dweck has stated in her book “Mindset: The New Psychology of Success” that “a change of mindset must happen before other positive transformation can occur.”
Resiliency is needed when we encounter failure. As a resilient leader, you shouldn’t view failure as final, but as a necessary step to move further along your journey.
6. Resilient Leaders Develop Others
The most resilient leaders are concerned about the development of their teams. Developing others helps everyone to learn from their mistakes. We continue to find that leaders who want and accept honest feedback for themselves are more likely to give productive feedback and coaching to others.
7. Resilient Leaders Communicate Effectively
Effective communication helps teams understand changes, expectations and new directions. This understanding is the key to the success of any team. The most resilient and best leaders always communicate their intentions effectively to others and are willing to help their teams understand a new strategy or direction.
The COVID-19 pandemic is proving to be the ultimate test for business leadership. In times of crisis, only certain individuals can adapt and stand tall amongst the crowd. When it comes to leaders, being able to implement resilience tools and strategies will not only make you a better leader but help the company overall.