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How Developing Resiliency Will Improve Your Leadership Capabilities

Nadia Prescott

The more you learn how to leverage challenges as opportunities to grow, the more resilient you are likely to become. Developing resiliency results in better leadership. All of us experience pain, both personally and professionally. But some of us suffer much more than others and are unable to use experiences as growth vehicles. I always say pain is informative, suffering is optional. But why do some people handle stressful events better than others? And why can some people use these experiences to improve their leadership skills while others don’t seem to have this ability?

People who weather storms more effectively tend to view the world through a specific lens. Instead of focusing on the negative, they view challenges as welcome learning opportunities. This doesn’t mean they ignore their very real feelings of anger, sadness, or disappointment. It’s just means that they view these feelings with a questioning mindset.

What resilient people do is immediately look at a problem or situation and
ask themselves, ‘What just happened? What’s the solution? What can I learn from this situation?’ ‘What is possible?’ And perhaps most importantly, ‘How can I use this experience to be a better leader?’ Having the ability to ask and answer these questions about your own behavior can change your frame of mind. You become more open and willing to explore growth opportunities, which helps you move forward, solve problems and be seen as an effective, even-minded leader.

But often, we are not aware of the need to ask ourselves self-reflective questions, nor are we aware of the underlying issues that influence assumptions, behaviors and reactions. For example, if your boss calls you out at work, do you automatically respond defensively, perhaps the way you did as a child when confronted by a teacher or a parent? Becoming more conscious of how you react to certain ‘button-pushing’ situations will help you develop both resiliency and leadership skills.

As a first step, train yourself to become more observant. Think about which few questions to ask yourself under adverse circumstances, and practice using them. Observing and understanding how you react to certain situations will help you become a better listener and improve the quality of your life and relationships both at home and work. Think carefully about the distinction between pain and suffering. If pain is informative, what is required to move forward? And if suffering is optional, are you focusing only on the negative?

Developing this skill takes time, and sometimes requires the help of an executive coach. However, it is well worth the investment of time and effort as becoming self-aware is one of best tools you have for becoming resilient, creating positive change and maximizing your leadership potential. Here are some simple tips to help you build resiliency:

  1. If you find yourself focusing on a negative thought, ask yourself what
    evidence exists that this particular thought is true.
  2. When a problem presents itself, ask yourself what is the hidden
    opportunity to either solve the problem or learn more about
    yourself.
  3. Add some simple acts of kindness into your life. Help a neighbor, or
    volunteer.
  4. Take care of your health and have some fun. When you feel better,
    you are less likely to focus on the negative.
  5. Laugh. We all know laughter is the best medicine!

To learn more about becoming resilient and fighting negativity, check out Dr. Marilee Adams’ titled: Change Your Questions, Change Your Life: 7 Powerful Tools for Life and Work.