Resiliency is the ability to bounce back from a difficult moment … a rough day … a big setback … a life-changing hardship. What should leaders know about it?
Resiliency is a “super skill.” Resilient people are flexible, durable and open to learning. They operate from greater positivity and optimism, which helps to fuel ideas, solve problems and be more effective. Resiliency allows you to be more effective in all that you do — and healthier, too. Without it, you’re likely to suffer burnout, fatigue, malaise, depression, defensiveness and cynicism.
Stress comes from rumination. The mental process of thinking over and over about something and attaching negative emotions to it — rumination — creates stress symptoms and is the enemy of resilience. Non-ruminators may have plenty of pressure or hardships in their lives, but they aren’t stressed by it.
Resiliency is a business issue. When people in leadership roles are angry, reactive or anxious (not resilient) it sets the tone for how others interact, react and get work done. They won’t perform at their best. They are more likely to call in sick (and actually be sick). They will be easily overwhelmed by the pace and uncertainty of work and find it hard to be motivated.
Resiliency can be learned. Learning to be resilient comes from modifying both thoughts and actions. It begins with recognizing your patterns and behaviors and trading habitual responses with new ones. With practice, the brain creates new neural pathways. The result: less stress, more energy, greater focus — and a stronger sense that you can pick yourself up, dust off and try again.
Clarify your Why. Find your sense of purpose. Why do you do what you do? What do you value? Being connected to your bigger self or larger mission will help you face life’s struggles. Remind yourself of your personal why every day.
Give yourself credit. You have the resources within you to be more resilient. How many times in your personal life or professional life have you already struggled, survived and bounced back? What did you do? What did you learn? Draw on these skills and insights.
Stop ruminating. Focus on where you are and what you are doing now. Don’t let your mind drift into worrying about the past or the future. Learn mindfulness or focusing techniques to train your brain to stop creating its own stress.
Embrace learning. Try new approaches, learn new skills, adapt your behaviors — especially when you know old ways aren’t working any more. Make an effort to learn each day, and notice when you are open to learning and when you resist it. Why?
Sleep more. Eat better. Exercise. Taking care of your physical health goes a long way toward boosting your mental and emotional health.
Want to learn more?
- CCL’s Leadership Development Program (LDP)® for mid- to senior-level managers addresses resilience as a key competency to handle the complexity of working up and down the organizational hierarchy.
- Wake Up! The Surprising Truth About What Drives Stress and How Leaders Build Resilience, a white paper from CCL’s Nick Petrie, gives a closer look at rumination and how to conquer it.
- The short guidebook Building Resiliency: How to Thrive in Times of Change offers insight and how-to’s.
- Leadership Resiliency: Handling Stress, Uncertainty and Setbacks and Getting Unstuck: Questions that Help You Move Forward in Tough Situations are related Leading Effectively articles.