Resilience allows you to weather the bumps of life. Leaders need to be resilient to help others become and stay resilient. I’ve been lucky in life that I had a number of leaders (many without a title) who helped me to be resilient and to pay it forward to others.
I grew up in a dysfunctional, addicted, and abusive family. I learned to get support from outside the immediate family to help me see that what I experienced could be overcome. My grandmother helped me to understand the importance of a post-high school education and my closest friends were college bound and cheering me on.
Because I knew that my education would be key to a better future, I worked hard at my classes, even the most difficult ones (like organic chemistry and physics!). My professors believed in me, helping me to discover that through hard work, I could do well my classes.
After college, I was hired into an organization that provided me with lots of opportunities for growth and development. I loved working there. When an acquisition occurred after many years at the company and I was part of a massive layoff, I somehow knew I’d be okay. I didn’t experience the anger or sadness that others did. With some perspective, persistence, and support, I was able to help others weather the storm.
I’m proud of how my past has shaped my present and will impact my future. My hardiness has come from inside, but it’s also been fostered and supported by others.
But wait! There are lessons for leaders in all of this personal rambling!
I’ve learned some lessons about resilience, and how a leader can foster it in their organization during tough times with:
Perspective: In almost every situation that can knock you or your employees off their feet, you can find perspective if you look for it. Ask yourself (even in the midst of a corporate restructuring, a job loss, or a dysfunctional organization), “What’s the worst that could happen?”. If you look beyond the immediate state of affairs you’re dealing with, you may even see that there is opportunity there. Better yet, your job is to help yourself and those you lead to envision something beyond the immediate tough times.
Persistence: When times are tough, you need to “lead the way”. This means that you don’t give up on yourself or on others, but use your strength and courage to guide yourself and those around you to forge ahead to a better future. You can’t go back to the past and the immediate situation may be unchangeable. When you are able to see ahead and lead others to what’s possible, they’ll thrive and become more resilient.
Support: You’ll need the support of a colleague, friend, family or coach. This is important for you and for the support you’ll need to provide to others who need you to lead at your best. Asking for help in tough times is a sign of strength, not weakness. Support from an empathetic, listening ear will help you to model the same to your employees when they need it.
You can make a difference by helping others to stay resilient in the bumps of life by modeling it yourself. Make sure you approach tough times with perspective, persistence and support to help others to weather the bumps.