Leading With Resilience

Apr 24, 2020

I don’t need to remind you, but these are interesting times. And, as leaders, we are really feeling the need to step up and lead. But how do we do this? The challenge can seem overwhelming.

Depending on your situation, you may be experiencing the stresses of isolation, worries about your health, or that of your family and friends. You might face economic hardships. If you are lucky, you might only be struggling with working from home and keeping your household running despite the constraints. None of these challenges are small. Rather, they are the very situations that invite us to demonstrate and, in the long run, develop resiliency.

Luckily, we have all built some degree of resilience over our lifetimes. Although varied in our skills as leaders, we can and must use the resilience muscles we already have to help ourselves, our followers, and others through this time of challenge and uncertainty.

Let’s take a moment and consider how we can use our current understanding of resilience to help us through. We can start with The Resilience Way™ model, which involves these Five Elements of Resilience:

  1. Emotional Well-Being
  2. Relationships
  3. Personal Clarity
  4. Dynamic Thinking
  5. Physical Health

Emotional Well-Being involves being in tune with your overall emotional state and being aware of what’s going on. It also involves maintaining your spiritual connections and taking care of your mental wellness, which means addressing problems when they arise.

Relationships are important, if not essential, elements in our lives. Resilient people enjoy strong relationships that help them through tough times.

Personal Clarity means having a clear picture of who you are, what you want in life, and how you plan to achieve your ultimate goals.

Dynamic Thinking is the mindset that allows you to implement your plans. It involves having the confidence to know that you can and will succeed. It means seeing situations realistically and noticing what gets in the way. Dynamic Thinking requires having the flexibility to adapt to new situations and changing your habits and behaviors when they impede your progress. 

Physical Health is the final piece of the resiliency puzzle. As anyone who has been seriously ill can attest, if you don’t have your health, you have nothing. Maintaining your physical health through good sleep, nutrition, and exercise is essential for building resiliency.


Finding Guidance Through Crisis With The Leadership Challenge®

As leaders, we want to bring out the best in ourselves and those around us. Right now, however, we might feel like that’s impossible. If you’re operating in crisis mode without a sense of direction, you may feel completely out of your element in knowing how to lead during a crisis. But there are things you can do to lead nonetheless. For instance, consider how you might incorporate the Five Elements of Resilience into The Five Practices of Exemplary Leadership®:

  1. Model the Way

Consider your resilience strengths. You can assess these by following this link and by completing The Resilience Way Self-Assessment. Once you know what you are good at, make sure you deliberately use your resilience skills and set a clear example of the behaviors you want others to follow. For instance, if in the past, you have been good at helping others and nurturing their well-being with encouragement and support, ask yourself whether you’re finding time to do that now. If not, you might feel like something is missing in your effectiveness as a leader. To get back on track, take time to create an action plan that outlines how to capitalize on your key resilience strengths.

  1. Inspire a Shared Vision

Help people recognize that they are not alone in their struggles and that, despite all the changes disrupting their lives and plans, there are still things they can plan for and accomplish right now—together. After all, this situation will not last forever. Also, now is the time to help people clarify their values, visions, and plans so they can avoid being pulled in directions that clash with their long-term intentions. Your support as a leader will also help them make better decisions in the present moment.

  1. Challenge the Process

…is alive and well in times of crisis! Talk to people about how they are getting through some of the challenges they face. How are they managing to find a quiet spot to work despite the kids being home? How are they keeping in touch with family and friends and remaining connected? What are they doing to fill their free time? Share what you learned from your experience and from talking to others. There are some brilliant ideas for improving the ways we work and lead that are coming out of the COVID-19 crisis.

  1. Enable Others to Act 

Open up conversations with those around you. Check in on the mental health of others. You don’t need to have answers to their problems; just be a good listener. Reflect on what you hear and help others focus on finding the resources they need. Ask them this question, “In the past, what helped you get through tough times?” The answer to this question provides a glimpse into their resilience skills. Ask if they’ve been using those skills. If not, ask them about how you might work together to put their resilience skills into practice.

  1. Encourage the Heart

Find as many ways as you can to let everyone know how well they’re doing. Check in with those who are isolated. Celebrate the resilience around you. Let people know that they are lifting you up. Tell them how much they mean to you. This will energize both you and those you encourage. We all need this now more than ever.

We will most certainly get through the COVID crisis. And when we do, we will find that, as leaders, we have grown. We will have greater resiliency and an evolved ability to live our full lives in both the present and the future. 


Kelly Ann McKnight is a Certified Master of The Leadership Challenge® and the author of The Resilience Way. As a dynamic presenter, executive coach, and founding principal of StoneRidge Consulting & Leadership, she delivers workshops and keynotes and provides one-to-one coaching on resilience, leadership, management, and team development. You can reach Kelly Ann at www.theresilienceway.com or [email protected].


Share This Post

Unlock Leadership Today - Try the
LPI: Leadership Practices Inventory for Free!

Newsletter Icon