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The great philosopher Mike Tyson famously said, “Everybody has a plan until they get punched in the mouth”.
Well, Covid has been a punch in the mouth for many of us. It has made leading a team harder than ever before. How do you lead when you can’t see your people, when you have reduced incentives, constant change and many other challenges? The reality is, that if you can lead your team effectively in these circumstances, you are setting out your stall as an outstanding leader for the future.
Undoubtedly the single most important quality every leader needs right now is resilience – the ability to bounce back quickly from adversity. Resilient people cope well with high levels of pressure.
Many studies have highlighted the importance of resilience as both an individual and a leadership trait. But in the new hybrid workplace resilience is more important than it has ever been.
All the evidence suggests that how people respond to adversity is a strong predictor of their success potential. So as a leader you need to grow your coping mechanisms and in turn, grow the coping mechanisms of your team.
“The greatest glory in living lies not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall.”
Here are 3 ways to build your resilience:
1. Welcome the pressure
Your ability to handle setbacks and maintain your energy under pressure, without undermining others or engaging in counter-productive behaviour, sets you apart.
Sooner or later something you are responsible for is going to go wrong. You’ll miss a target. You’ll lose out in some way. Someone may have a go at you. A calm and pressure free progression to the top is a fantasy. Problems and progress go together, you can’t have one without the other.
Pressure is inevitable in any leadership role. So how do you handle it?
The secret is to be GRATEFUL for the pressure, to love it, then it subsides. Sir Ben Ainslie the most decorated sailor in Olympic history said – “You must learn to love the pressure”.
This is the big secret. When you’re under pressure say to yourself: “Love it, bring it on”. Welcome the events that may otherwise throw you into turmoil.
2. Control the controllables
Angela Duckworth in her book ‘Grit’ says that what goes through our heads when we fall down is vital, and it’s that, NOT talent or luck that makes all the difference.
What counts is not what happens to you, but how you take it – how you describe it to yourself. Have the attitude a setback is a setup for a comeback.
Adopt the mantra ‘every adversity carries with it the seed of an equivalent or greater benefit’. Then when something happens ask: “How can I turn this to my advantage?’ As has been said many times – it’s in those tough moments that we find our greatest strength.
“Strength does not come from winning. Your struggles develop your strengths.”
Whatever your current challenges, they contain the seed of an equivalent or greater benefit for your business – your task is to find that seed. And nurture it.
3. Tap the inherent worth of the task
Victor Frankl who survived Auschwitz said “Life is never made unbearable by circumstances, but only by lack of meaning and purpose.” This gives us insight into a more subtle but highly effective way to strengthen resilience.
So how do you use it?
Think about what you do and the products you sell and ask yourself: “How do we provide a chance to make the world a better place to be?” Tap the inherent worth of the task. The person who has a ‘why’ to live for can bear almost any ‘how’.
Your task as the leader is to provide the why. Give people a reason as to why what you do benefits the world around them. You’ll be impressed at how it strengthens resolve – both in you and your team.
Finally, in building resilience remember to look after yourself – exercise, eat well, get enough sleep and laugh.
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