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Resilience—for both individuals and organizations—will be an essential attribute as we move through this crisis and into the future.

As I write, towards the end of 2020, we have already witnessed a year of a ‘never-before’ pandemic in recent decades. We are well down the path toward a new normal—learning which business practices will continue to make sense and which still need to change. The most obvious challenge, of course, is deciding how and where work gets done. But most businesses face deeper questions about how they can survive—and thrive—going forward.

This is where Leadership plays its prime role. One that spells calm, clarity, astuteness, quick decision making, compassion and possibly many more undoubtedly ‘all-rolled-into-one’?

Yes, we need Leaders who are RESILIENT! Nothing more, nothing less!

A resilient leader is the one who is never put off by any failure and sees opportunity in every adversity. Resilience is an important leadership as well individual trait. Research states that most resilient leaders have a greater appetite for risks and make quick yet informed decisions. To be a resilient leader you should be open to taking people along with you. This may not come right away but with practice and mindfulness, this trait can be developed. For leaders who are trying to be resilient, improvement in the following areas will help:

  1. Communicate effectively: Effective communication plays a pivotal role in an organization’s success. Signaling lets your team know of your intentions. Most resilient leaders are willing to help others understand a new strategy or direction. Effective communication helps others understand changes, expectations and new directions.
  2. Are coachable: Resilient leaders are open to feedback and often ask their peers for perpetual feedback. They are keen learners and make a sincere effort to improve once they receive a feedback. It is often observed that younger employees are more open to learning as compared to older employees. However, resilient leaders continue to ask for feedback and learn throughout their careers.
  3. Build positive relations: Resilient leadership rests on the pillars of strong relations culminating in to the ultimate success of any team. By building trust and being open to differences, these leaders are able to create high performing teams.
  4. Are risk takers: Resilient leaders are bold risk takers and are willing to try novel ideas. It is easy for individuals to get stuck in the same rut, working in the same mundane manner, year after year till the world changes, requiring organizations to either change or die. Resilient leaders always welcome changes with open arms.
  5. Develop Others: Resilient leadership are not only interested in their personal development but are also concerned about the development of their team members. Resiliency is needed when we encounter failure. As people learn from their mistakes, they widen their horizons to learn new things without any hesitation.
(Image courtesy: Lahardan Financial)

To Handle Increased Stress, Build Your Resilience

Managing stress over the long-term requires cultivating your own resilience skills before seeking external solutions so that you can turn changes, stresses, and challenges into opportunities. These skills include adaptability, a healthy relationship to control, continual learning, having a sense of purpose, and knowing how to leverage support and appropriate resources.

To manage the way, you deal with stress and cultivate resilience, there are a handful of things you can should consider:

Reframe how you think about stress

How we perceive stress can be just as important to how we handle it as the amount of stress we’re experiencing.  Shift your focus from eliminating the day-to-day pressures that you face to changing your perception of them. You might ask, “How can I use the energy created by feeling stressed about this new task to better prepare for it?” or “What can I learn from the stress about my increased workload that will help me better prioritize my time?” Pay attention to the early warning signs that you might be burning out, whether it’s back pain, headaches, or sleepless nights, short-temperedness or relying more heavily on “comforting habits” like drinking or excessive eating. Become familiar with your own distress signals and take note when occasional signs become more frequent.

Create a healthy relationship to control

Being able to separate out what you can and cannot control is essential. When you’re overwhelmed, it’s easy to assume you can’t change your situation. Research studies say that leaders who believe their success is primarily their responsibility tended to take on too much ownership for events in the external world and in doing so created significant stress for themselves.

There are things that may always be outside of your control: other people’s behavior, this pandemic, a financial crisis, or just bad timing. Ask yourself, ‘Do I have the skills, information, resources, or relationships that enable me to change or influence this situation?” Make a note, either mentally or in written form of what’s within and outside of your influence.

For things that you can’t control, recognize that you do have the ability to choose how to interpret or frame them.

Understand the root causes

Take time to reflect on your personal context as well as the larger business context to better understand the root causes and possible ways to alleviate and avoid future stress. For instance, did you grow up in a family or work long in a company culture where disagreement or conflict was avoided? If so, that’s likely to exacerbate your discomfort and stress when confrontational situations arise. Be aware of your habits and instinctive responses and possibly seek additional support to build skills to more comfortably navigate conflict.

Link learning with action

We can choose to see difficult circumstances as learn­ing opportunities rather than as a time to shut down. When we ask “What can I learn from this?” instead of “Why me?” we can shape the challenge to our advantage.

Start by jotting down three possible ways in which you might be able to learn something from the stress you’re experiencing. It might be something related to identifying or managing your emo­tions, or new interpersonal or technical skills. Reflecting in this way will help you avoid going after fixes or “options” that may temporarily ease your discomfort but don’t address the root causes.

With stronger internal resilience, we can be proactive and intentional about how we use technology and other external tools to improve the quality of our lives and our work and find solutions to the business and social pressures we face. When it comes to handling stress, start with yourself: we are our own most effective, powerful resource.

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