Resilient Leadership

Is Your Resilience Impacting Your Ability to Lead Authentically?

Resilient LeadershipThis blog is number four in a series focused on building authentic leadership. In this post we will explore how resilience supports your ability to lead authentically and how it can inhibit your success if it is not attended to. We define resilience as the ability to remain flexible and focused in the face of ongoing change. To be an authentic leader, we need to attend to four key elements: our physical wellbeing, our thinking, our emotional intelligence and sense of purpose, and our connection to people who support us. We must be honest with ourselves and others about what allows us to be resilient. The other day I met with a client who, for the first time in her life, is struggling with health challenges. Michelle works for a large national nonprofit where leaders pride themselves on their stamina, persistence, and always achieving results beyond what others could deliver—which may be part of the root of the problem. At forty-one years old, she had been blessed with great health until back problems forced her to take a leave of absence from work. She was given surgical and non-surgical treatment options to address her back condition. The non-surgical choices involved managing her stress and lifestyle as well as a daily routine of exercise and stretching. While the non-surgical option may sound easier than the surgical option, her underlying dilemma is facing the fact that she cannot live up to her own expectations of herself. She is young and suffering stress-related physical problems that, if she does not get under control, will likely result in chronic pain for years to come. Now she must rethink who she can authentically be and face the reality of her physical limitations. Although most of us will face this at some point in our lives and careers, most of us never really think about it until a dramatic event forces us to reassess the choices we make and how we’re living. When we read about authentic leadership it seems so simple: be true to yourself. For Michelle, a primary condition of her authenticity is facing her physical limitations and being authentic with others about what she can and is willing to do to balance her work schedule with her personal health needs. In coming to terms with her humanness, she needs to figure out what it even means to be true to herself. Does she retain her stressful job in a field she loves, implementing a mission which she believes is her life’s work? What other avenue does she have to pursue her passion and make an impact on the world? How you can put resilience to work for you to become more authentic? Here are six questions to consider as indicators of your resilience as a leader:

  1. Am I taking the actions I need to take to remain physically healthy over the longer term?
  2. Do I manage my thinking throughout the day, every day (minimize negative self-talk; be gentle and kind in how I think about myself; express gratitude regularly; have reasonable expectations of myself and others, etc.)?
  3. Do I demonstrate strong emotional self-awareness and self-management?
  4. Do I have a sense of life purpose that inspires me daily and helps keep the less important annoyances in perspective?
  5. Do I have a spiritual practice that supports my well-being?
  6. Do I have a support system that supports and encourages me during good times and bad?

If you’ve answered no to any of the six questions on the list consider: what changes you can you make in the short term to authentically and honestly commit to and move toward greater resilience? As a resilient leader, you are more able to respond to the ongoing challenges of your role with clear thinking and presence. This, in turn, allows you to continue to be authentic with yourself and others around you. It also allows you to promote resilience in your workgroup so you can ensure others are also able to perform at their highest capacity. Authenticity is the alignment of head, mouth, heart, and feet—thinking, saying, feeling, and doing the same thing—consistently. This builds trust, and followers love leaders they can trust. — Lance Secretan

To become a more innovative leader, you can begin by taking our free leadership assessments and then enrolling in our online leadership development program.

Check out the companion interview and past episodes of Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future, via iTunes, TuneIn, Stitcher, Spotify, Amazon Music, Audible,  iHeartRADIO, and NPR One.  Stay up-to-date on new shows airing by following the Innovative Leadership Institute LinkedIn.

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