The Bounce Factor – Eight Tips for Increasing Leadership Resilience

Overscheduled. Exhausted. Overwhelmed.

Can you relate?

Bill Hybels, minister and author of Simplify, says these are the three words he hears most often from leaders across professions when he asks them how they are really doing.

Whether it’s a slow descent or a rapid fall into depletion, most leaders experience this. But resilient leaders avoid staying there. They develop “bounce.”

The bounce factor

Bouncing_ball_strobe_editRetired U.S. Army Major General Bob Dees describes leadership resilience as the ability to bounce back after a “personal body slam.” Those who are resilient bend but don’t break under pressure. They grow from pressure, challenges and setbacks. They bounce back even stronger and more effective on the other side of trials.

Here are eight tips to help you build bounce before a storm hits, weather the storm when it hits and bounce back afterwards.

Building bounce

What can you do to get ready for storms and maybe even avoid some?

  • Get fit. Take a lesson from Bob Dees and U.S. Army research and get fit: physically, mentally, spiritually, emotionally and relationally. Many of us are fit in one or two of these realms, yet all are critical. They are intertwined, and they all affect our overall well-being and ability to lead with well-rounded perspective, energy and empathy. Do you need a fitness plan in one of these areas?
  • Say No. If you don’t have room in your schedule to accomplish your most important priorities – including staying fit – then maybe it’s time to start saying “No” and taking control of your schedule.
  • HALT. Another tip from Dees is to HALT when we’re hungry, angry, lonely or tired because we’re more susceptible to underperform or make poor decisions when we are in these states.

Weathering the storm

Family challenges. Health crises. Conflicts with key people at work. Financial pressure. Downsizing or organization changes.

Fit or not, leaders cannot avoid storms completely. What can you do when the storm hits you?

  • Breathe. Reams of research support the simple act of pausing and taking a few slow and deliberate breaths as a way to help reduce stress. (Click here for breathing tips.)
  • Remember your purpose and value. This may mean anchoring back to the business purpose of your new initiative when you get push-back. Or remembering the contribution you bring to the table when your boss tells you it’s time to look for a new table. Or anchoring to your bigger picture purpose and values when someone you thought had your back lets you down or when you’re not “feeling the love.”
  • Call 911.Too much independence and self-sufficiency is a recipe for loneliness, excessive pride and limited perspective. If you don’t have others whom you can ask for help and support when you need them, then now’s the time to find someone(s).
  • Refuel. When your gas tank is empty, do what you need to do to refill your tank. Leaders, especially, are prone to minimize their need to refill the tank.

Bouncing back

The real test of resilience is what we do at the fork in the road after a body slam.

  • Choose the high road. Will I get up and try again or give up? Will I offer forgiveness or seek revenge? Will I learn from the setback or continue on a path that makes it likely I’ll experience it again? Will I develop a plan to get fit or continue to neglect a key area of life?

If “overscheduled, exhausted, overwhelmed or body-slammed” are words that describe you, you have a choice. Choose to build some bounce.

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Joe Baker is a Partner with PeopleResults. As a leadership consultant and executive coach, he helps leaders and their teams build the resilience they need to weather storms. You can reach him at or on Twitter @JoeBakerJr.