4 Traits of Resilient Leaders

Over the last few months, how has your resilience been tested? Most of us couldn’t imagine at the beginning of 2020 how 2020 (so far) has evolved. One of the best and funniest videos I’ve seen on the incredible disruptions we’ve collectively experienced is in “April Julie” talking to “January Julie” and then “June Julie” talking to “April Julie”. It’s a funny take on how limited our thinking was just a few short months ago about all the unprecedented events that have happened so far this year.

Resilience is commonly defined as the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties. Most of us believe that our resilience and ability to respond positively have been tested in ways we couldn’t have expected – as leaders, parents, students, and members of our society at large. How do we recognize and enhance our ability to be resilient and help our teams manage uncertainty and ambiguity? In our work, through research and experience with clients, we’ve found that there are 4 common traits of a resilient leader:

  • Curious Learner who sees disruption and new information as positive and is able to be open to new information & experience
  • Focus on a better future by understanding purpose and connecting themselves and teams back to purpose and meaning
  • Persistent focus on progress – especially in times of high ambiguity and stress
  • Positive connector & collaborator who inspires and contributes through authentic relationships

As you think about your own resilience, here are some key reflection questions to help you identify ways you can increase your ability to be more resilient:

  • How well am I able to lead through periods of high uncertainty, ambiguity, and change? What are some things that get in my way and are obstacles for my team/ organization?
  • How well do I use iterative & adaptive planning, especially to anticipate upcoming changes to my plans?
  • Am I making time to be a continuous, iterative learner – seeking new information & ideas as well as understanding how new information may change my plans?
  • Am I adaptively able to manage my teams based on what they need in addition to what we need to accomplish?
  • Are there new ways that I can be more agile/ nimble ways in my approach to address emerging ideas?

Sheri Browning is a Partner at PeopleResults. You can reach her at sbrowning@people-results.com or on Twitter @sbPResults