In leadership terms, we define Resilience as the ability to adapt in the face of multiple changes while continuing to persevere toward strategic goals. In our very dynamic work environment, we as leaders must build resilience in ourselves as well as in our employees.
As a leader, you actually become different based on the changing environment. Most people, after a period of adjustment, bounce back to their previous level of happiness no matter what happens to them. There are also several studies that support the idea that after a period of adjustment, people return to their prior level of happiness.
Think about someone you have worked with that you respected but they did not navigate challenge well. It may have been tough to watch but not much you could do about it. Here is a story of one of my clients.
I worked with a very talented leader who had some issues with resilience. Under pressure he tended to get angry and controlling because he did not have a system to manage the stress. He became short with his staff and caused them to become disengaged because they felt unsupported. He would obsess about what others had done and get defensive. He was becoming unhappy in her job – more unhappy than was reasonable based on her situation. As we worked together, over time, he developed stronger coping skills and has a much greater capacity to manage the same level of stress. Some of the things he did were: start a reflection process while driving home from work, become aware of and manage his self talk – remembering that his boss really is on his side. All of these activities contributed to improved physical health and also greatly improved her ability to motivate her team and produce higher quality work and enjoy working with their leader again. He also developed a much stronger relationship with the senior leadership team.
We break resilience into four primary categories:
- Maintain Physical Wellbeing
- Direct Mental Perspective
- Fulfill Life Purpose While Living Your Values
- Harness the Power of Connection
All of these categories are interlinked, none of them can be ignored for long-term resilience. An example, tt is hard to think clearly if you are physically unhealthy and so on. As you think of yourself as a leader, it is important to remember that maintaining personal resilience is as important as building other business or organizational skills. In my coaching practice I often hear that leaders are too busy to take care of themselves. I fully understand the delicate balancing act we all play and yet, building and maintaining resilience are quite important to your success. One of the biggest challenges for leaders is balancing the time requirements for competing commitments. Resilience is yet another one of those. The good news is, as we improve our resilience, we will think more clearly and have a more positive impact with our interactions with others. We will impact measures such as employee engagement, so an investment in resilience will likely drive improvements in your effectiveness as a leader.
Maintain Physical Wellbeing
According to Gallup, “Those with high physical wellbeing simply have more energy to get more done in less time. They are more likely to be in a good mood, thus boosting the engagement of their colleagues and customers.” This category is one we often best understand and yet give limited focus to. Some basic elements include:
- Get enough sleep
- Exercise 6 days per week
- Eat well
- Limit caffeine
- Eliminate nicotine
- Meditate & relax
- Take time in nature
One of the key goals in maintaining physical wellbeing is managing the amount and impact of stress. Key to body resilience: Build daily routines that help your body recover from stress
Mental perspective of resilience is based on our attitudes, beliefs, and assumptions rather than knowledge. Negative and inflexible thinking prevents the ability to see the big picture and to find creative and alternative routes toward a goal. The key to mental resilience: Question assumptions, attitudes and beliefs, and actively manage your thinking consistently.
Dr. Susan Kobasa’s research findings published in 1988 on AT&T executives indicated three major factors distinguish people who display stress hardiness and resilience:
- Attitude toward CHALLENGE is positive
- Believing that you have CONTROL over your own life
- COMMITMENT to a belief that gives experience meaning and value
Read about Fulfill Life Purpose While Living Your Values and Harness the Power of Connection in our next post.
If you are interested in learning more about resilience, or building your resilience, take our resilience assessment, attend a resilience class, attend the ASQ conference or contact a coach.
Photo credit: Positive Attitude: Auntie K
Thanksgiving is a wonderful holiday to remind us that a gratitude practice can be very powerful tool for improving health and well being as well as mental clarity. This practice is so beneficial it is part of my daily practice, just like healthy eating. It is an important part of building resilience.
Advanced research at theInstitute of HeartMath and elsewhere has provided evidence that gratitude is not simply a nice sentiment or feeling. Sustained feelings of gratitude have real benefits, including the following:
- Biochemical changes – Favorable changes in the body’s biochemistry include improved hormonal balance and an increase in production of DHEA, the “anti-aging hormone.”
- Increased positivity – Daily gratitude exercises can bring about a greater level of positive feelings, according to researchers from the University of Miami and the University of California, Davis who studied this process in 157 individuals over 13 days.
- Boost to the immune system– The IgA antibody, which serves as the first line of defense against pathogens, increases in the body.
- Emotional “compound interest” – The accumulated effect of sustained appreciation and gratitude is that these feelings, and coherence, are easier to recreate with continued practice. This is because experiencing an emotion reinforces the neural pathways of that particular emotion as it excites the brain, heart and nervous system. The downside is that you also can reinforce negative emotions.
TheInstitute of HeartMath is helping more people experience the benefits of the sincere feelings Thanksgiving celebrates by providing the following helpful appreciation exercise:
- Instructions: Take a few short appreciation breaks during the day. During each break take one or two minutes to breathe deeply through the area of the heart. While doing so, try to hold a sincere feeling of appreciation in your heart area. This can be appreciation for a family member, friend who helped you with something or even a wonderful vacation, etc.
- Why it works: The exercise of activating a positive feeling like appreciation literally shifts our physiology, helping to balance our heart rhythms and nervous system, and creates more coherence between the heart, brain and rest of the body.
The Heartmath Institute provides tools to measure the physiological impact of gratitude on your body. I have used the emWave Personal Stress Reliever tool for two years now and have found it to be very helpful in monitoring my heart and stress level.
Gratitude is a simple and effective practice and the benefits are real and attainable. It creates a healthier, happier and more fulfilling state of being for anyone who takes a few moments to feel and reflect on it.
Photo credit: libookperson
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