Home>Leadership Development, Organizational Development, Team Performance>What Makes Leaders Resilient in Times of Adversity?
Elena_Pastore

Elena Pastore
Marketing Project Manager
May 14, 2020

What Makes Leaders Resilient in Times of Adversity?

In any organization, the leader is always the one people look up to, whether it be in times of success, times of failure, trial periods, or times of crisis. Since leaders train, learn, and practice to ultimately obtain their role, they are prepared to “have the answer” in most situations. During a crisis like Coronavirus, no one has the answer. No one has trained and practiced to lead their people through this period, so leaders shouldn’t pretend to “have the answer” when they are confronted about the future. Rather, the best inspiring leaders should address the challenges they face through the lens of resilience.

So, what is resilience?

The best that leaders can do, or that anyone can do, is to lead with resilience. What exactly does it mean to be resilient? Resilience can be seen in different lights, depending on the context. It has everything to do with how leaders respond to the challenges they face. It has to do with having the strength to push through the harsh realities of today to see the light at the end of the tunnel. Leaders should channel their emotional intelligence to see eye-to-eye with employees and motivate them to continue to work hard during tough times.

Resilience at work reflects leaders’ abilities to motivate and encourage their teams that are facing setbacks. Resilience may be harder for others that are not innately optimistic or positive or that cannot think long term and see the big picture. We are all bound to know people like this. Rather than dismissing them, we should help them to see the faith that lies in the future. 

In a sense, resilience can be compared to mental toughness. However, mental toughness excludes elements that are what make resilience so powerful: hope and light. Toughness can keep us afloat through the storm, but hope is what allows us to know brighter days are ahead and how we should prepare for them. In crises, mental toughness in the absence of resilient leadership cannot get the job done.  

Resilient leadership inspires teams to work through harsh realities. For some, this means pay cuts. For many, this means furloughing. For companies at large, this means struggling to pay bills to stay afloat. Employees need to feel like these struggles are worth the pain. Make sure your people feel cared for and have what they need. Organizations should impose a top-down approach for leaders to check in with their individuals frequently. Resilient leadership also means ensuring people feel supported and backed by their manager and by the company as a whole. 

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Companies should also encourage practicing resilience among team members. They can use resilience as a means of holding each other accountable to continue to have a healthy work-life in the face of adversity. As most of us have experienced, when one person on the team is down, it can cause everyone to become demotivated. We are all better off when we adapt to change and address situations together. 

How can you improve resilience in teams?

  • Support through transparency
      • It’s OK to admit to people that you don’t have the answers. Employees would much rather hear that than receive false information or feel that information is being kept from them. Let your people know that leadership can’t have all the answers for tomorrow, today. However, the employees in the organization will be supported and will not be misguided. 
  • Find strength through each other 
      • Everyone is at a loss in some way, shape, or form. Utilize each other as resources to help your team come out stronger. Have everyone share tips on what they’re doing at work and at home to promote life balance. This will not only give people tips to be more productive with their time, but it will help the team build stronger relationships and trust each other.
  • Act on long term gains
    • In challenging times, people and organizations tend to base decision making off of short term logic. Short term logic typically comes from a place of weakness or desperation. Great companies are not built on that. Even when there is a great deal of uncertainty, decisions should be made with the long term success of the company in mind. Long term decisions are the best way to set up the company for long term future success after the pandemic is over.  

Great leaders will always find ways to work on building resilience throughout their organizations. Being resilient costs us nothing and delivers us great value and even potential monetary long-term gains. Resilience is among one of my practices of effective leadership.

As a solution for finding and building resiliency in your own leadership and organization during these unprecedented times, Churchill is offering our Sustaining Your Resilience During Corona – Adapt With Ease program. The program is done virtually to accommodate your work from home and remote teams.

Please visit our COVID-19 Solutions page if you would like to see all of our leadership and virtual solutions.

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About Elena

Elena is a double gator with a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration and a Master’s degree in International Business from the University of Florida. She holds roles in marketing and business development with her involvement in different organizations. She is passionate about helping others develop their soft skills and interpersonal capabilities for an enhanced and optimized workplace environment. Her top 5 Strengths are Includer, Woo, Connectedness, Belief, Responsibility.

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