Cultivating Resilience: How to Lead Your Organization Through Uncertainty

Feb 13, 2023

The path to exemplary leadership is not always easy. There are times when organizations are running smoothly, performance is optimal, and everyone is sure of their role. Conversely, there are times when headwinds make it hard to see end-goals clearly, industry trends move faster than organizations can pivot, and people are unsure, unclear, and unhappy. Those are the times that exemplary leadership is needed most of all.

A recent Forbes article broke down five trends leaders can expect to see in 2023 and it's clear resilience is needed more than ever. From environmental and global challenges to advancements in AI and technology, the new year is going to bring change and challenge. Resilience will not only be needed on a societal level, but each organization is constantly evolving as well. Whether it’s changes to remote or in-person work arrangements, staffing shake-ups, or shifting priorities, ensuring people have the skills to build resilience while staying engaged is necessary to success.

Inspiring resilience in the face of change is the work of great leaders and engaging the wisdom and skills found through The Leadership Challenge® will position you and your organization to break through the turbulence and get back to smooth sailing.

How to Inspire Resilience in Your Organization

While we face an uncertain future, the question remains: How can you empower your people to build resilience and lead at all levels?

In their best-selling book The Leadership Challenge (now in its 7th edition), leadership experts Jim Kouzes and Barry Posner outline how emotional hardiness and resilience can drive organizations forward. Here are three top ways to cultivate resilience in your organizations from the experts themselves.

Maintain Balance

“Problems presented too broadly, or too expansively, can appear daunting and suffocate people’s capacity to conceive of what they can do in the future, let alone right now. Leaders face this dilemma because they want people to reach for great heights, but not become fearful of falling. They want people to feel challenged, but not overwhelmed, curious but not lost, excited but not stressed.” Jim Kouzes and Barry Posner, The Leadership Challenge

Exemplary leaders strike a balance between loading their people with the problems of the day and providing room for them to explore and grow.

How Leaders Can Maintain Balance in Difficult Times 1. Break down problems 2. Provide support 3. In case of failure, try again.

Promote Psychological Hardiness

“Psychologists have discovered that people who experience a high degree of stress and yet can cope with it in a positive manner have a distinctive attitude, one they call “psychological hardiness.” Hardiness is a quality that people can learn and leaders can support.” Jim Kouzes and Barry Posner, The Leadership Challenge

While the modern workplace calls for a balance of emotional intelligence and driving results, cultivating emotional hardiness in your people through a supportive structure can prepare them to have resilience no matter what comes their way.

How Leaders Can Promote Psychological Hardiness 1. Commit 2. Take control 3. See challenge as an opportunity

Maintain Optimism in the Face of Adversity

“It takes determination and strength to deal with the adversities of life and leadership. You can’t let the setbacks get you down or allow roadblocks to get in your way. You can’t be overly discouraged when things don’t go according to plan.” Jim Kouzes and Barry Posner, The Leadership Challenge

Life is complicated, as is business. Things will not always go our way. Creating an environment where people are empowered to grow through adversity and have a supportive team around them is imperative to creating a culture of leadership.

How Leaders Can Maintain Optimism. 1. Stay focused 2. Maintain effort 3. Reflect and adjust

The Leadership Challenge® – from the wisdom of leadership experts Jim Kouzes and Barry Posner and The Five Practices of Exemplary Leadership® to our inclusive range of learning experiences – provides a meaningful foundation for building leadership skills at every level within an organization. When everyone has the skills to behave like leaders, which includes building resilience to cope in times of change, organizations will be better positioned to successfully adapt.

Metcalf, Maureen. “Five Trends Leaders Can Expect To See In 2023 (And How To Prepare)”. Forbes, 11/14/22

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