How do leaders maintain a level of resilience during times of change?
In preparation for our upcoming resilience workshop on 9th October, I have immersed myself in the topic of resilience. Having interviewed several people over the last few days it keeps coming back to the early work Bridge did on leadership with ‘are leaders born or are they made?’ This age-old question has been asked by many people over time. And to those who have a keen interest in EI and NLP, the answer is simple: Both.
This same question applies to resilience. Some individuals seem to have an inherent ability to overcome challenges, change and sometimes even turbulence much easier and faster than others. In the study of great leaders, that seem to have this superpower, it is important to really get under the skin and find out just how they do it. Clearly, they must have either conscious or unconscious techniques that they draw on to assist in their ability to overcome life stressors.
I believe that when it comes to ‘Resilience’, it is important to look for those people that possess this gift. Look closely at their behaviour, listen to their language and take time to ask them deeper questions on how they see and manage their world. I used to think that to be resilient meant that you just need to toughen up, roll with the punches, be positive, and just embrace change, as that is what others tell you. To just get on with it!
Yes, this is all true and very good advice. However, this only scratches the surface and must be supported with the ‘HOW TO’ achieve this. For a leader to say to one of their team to just remain positive and roll with the punches during times of worry about change to the company culture and work environment, is not helpful. This whole concept of ‘just leave it at the door’ does not promote the needed wellness in both mind and body that is required for both the leader or the team to manage our busy and complex work/life balance.
I think that resilience is something that I have been blessed with. As I delve deeper into my own level, I have to ask myself where did it come from? I do know that my mother was, and still is, a wonderful teacher and example of a person that is highly resilient in challenging times. So with this, I started to learn many of my techniques and ability for balance from an early age. It is not to say that I live in a stress-free zone and always manage this pressure perfectly, but life and study have taught me a few tricks. Here are three conscious ways that I have learned to overcome life’s challenges and embrace change with better resilience.
Find time for yourself to recharge and refocus
Downtime is a very important part of being resilient, as we need this private space to find calm, balance and perspective. In this stillness, it allows our heart and mind to slow and with this better blood flow which is a key requirement in the support of our emotional intelligence. Over the last few months, I have taken 15 minutes at midday to do a meditation. I find my quiet space – put in my earphones and just stop. This daily ritual allows me dedicated time to just find balance in the busy day. On days when I find my resilience being tested, I may add in a second, as I believe that if required it is better to recharge than burn out.
Know your limits and when it is time to ask for help
It is too easy to just keep plugging away and pushing your limits to manage all that needs to be done in life and work. It is in this pressure cooker that sits all the stress and health risks. I often see leaders dashing from one meeting to the next and I ask: ‘Why are so many people busy trying to look busy?’ So often it stems from a lack of confidence in their own ability to manage either their role or the risk of being more active with those that they lead. I see this as a silent killer as on the surface it looks like leaders are ‘on it’ while the reality is they are burning out. It is okay – not to be okay, and it is okay to say: ‘I need help as this is more than I can take on’. It is not weakness to not know how to do something.
Live in the present and focus on your future plan
When I begin to feel that I am becoming overwhelmed by all the various challenges, I take out my notebook and do this exercise: On the left I write ‘Where am I now?’ and under this heading I list out all of my stressors, emotions and tangible things that may be impacting on my emotional state. On the right-hand side of the page, I write ‘Where do I want to be in (insert time)?’ Under this heading, I write down all the things, feelings and vision that I want in the future state. Then between these two lists, I write: ‘What am I going to do about it?’ Under this heading, I write down all the things, feelings and vision that I want in the future state. Then between these two lists, I write – what am I going to do about it. It is here that I write down all the actions, big or small, that are within my control and that I have the ability to take on. It is in this list that I find focus and my power state.
In conclusion, remember that the art of resilience sits in all of us but often takes a conscious effort. It is not just a matter of being positive on command, as this positivity is drawn from perspective and this is not a simple thing to muster when you are immersed in a world full of stress, uncertainty and challenge. For some, it appears to come more easily but for all, it is learning the masterful techniques that allow for focus and the personal power to prevail.
Learn more at our Resilience Workshop, 9th October 2018.