We might have an idea in our mind about what a resilient leader looks like. We might think they're never fazed by anything – or that they just know what to do in crisis without even having to ask for support. Not true. Leaders aren't resilient as a result of some intangible secret sauce; what sets resilient leaders apart are the things that they do differently. Asking for help? Check. Putting people first? Check. Reflecting on their mistakes and missteps? Check. Here are four habits of resilient leaders which help them to tough out even the most challenging circumstances…
1. They don't let setbacks derail them
You might think resilient leaders just don't get affected by things in the same way as others. That's not strictly true. Of course, leaders will run into setbacks, make mistakes, and even – whisper it – fail from time to time. However, a lot of their resilience is built into their approach and how they view the world. Is it a problem…or is it an opportunity? Resilient leaders know that they're always going to encounter bumps in the road. But they don't allow them to set them off course, because they know challenges and change can often be the catalyst for another great thing: resilience.
Don't just take our word for it. Harvard Business Review conducted a survey on resilience in the context of the pandemic, which found that the more change people were exposed to within the context of the pandemic the more resilient they became. Resilient leaders know that the only way they can stay nimble is by continuing to face challenges head-on, and that's what they do.
2. They prioritize people
Leaders have had to make many tough decisions over the past few months. However, we're mistaken if we think those decisions should be made without considering others. Empathy is a biggie for employees, with some reports saying that 82% of workers would leave their job for a more empathic organization and 78% saying they'd work longer hours for an empathetic employer. The message is clear: if you don't care about your talent then they won't care about you either.
What resilient leaders do is build teams of people who feel valued and, in turn, are more resilient. They know their people are their biggest asset and so they bring empathy to any difficult conversation. They give time and space to hear out concerns rather than dismissing them, connect decision-making to the organizational 'why', and do everything with a little more kindness.
3. They look back – as well as forward
Leaders should always be forward-looking, right? In many ways, of course they should, but there's actually a lot to be learned in looking back. If we skip that part then we may simply find ourselves making the same mistakes again. In fact, one podcast series on the theme of resilience makes an important point on the power of self-analysis – using the example of football players.
Why football players? Well, they watch replay after replay in order to understand themselves and their opponents better, don't they? Imagine if all of us didn't simply move onto the next task but instead spent time reviewing what went right, what went wrong, and how our approach could differ next time. Spending more time reflecting means we're less likely to drop the ball in future.
4. They value difference
At Insights, we're big believers in the power of self-awareness in unlocking your potential. However, it's not enough to simply look inwards; self-awareness also has to underpin your interactions with others. That's when you start seeing the real value in collaboration; in surrounding yourself with a high performing and expert team who are good at all the things that you're not so good at.
Leaders who are less resilient may think they know best. They may be less willing to hear different perspectives or they might not even ask for help for fear of looking weak. Resilient leaders are the opposite; they know that differences in their teams covers blind spots and makes them better as a result. As the saying goes; a champion team will always beat a team of champions.