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Effective Leadership Requires Resilience. But How Is That Accomplished?

As a business leader, the tasks are seemingly endless. Budget analysis, sales projections, performance reviews, hiring, staff meetings and dreaded committee meetings. Rinse and repeat.

Working, especially in small business management, can be a grind. Add on top of the day-to-day machinations the challenges associated with failed product launches, poor sales and other bumps in the road, and it can be a daunting hill that you are always climbing.

How then, as a leader, do you maintain resilience? How do we adapt, change course, modulate, persevere and thrive?

One method is to use the same rigor that you use to maintain resilience for your organization. Assessment, analysis, interpretation, and reevaluation are tools that while often applied to businesses, can also ensure that your personal resilience remains at a high level.

Effective leadership means looking within
Some would describe resilience as the ability to “roll with the punches” or “bounce back” from adversity. However, some experts argue that personal resilience is far more complex. Executive coach Carole McLachlan argues that personal resilience is often about perception. It means taking what could be perceived as an adverse situation and finding positive and creative ways to address it.

Resilience comes from taking those challenges as opportunities. Resilience is also about learning from setbacks with minimal mental or physical pain, McLachlan says.

The challenge with remaining resilient is that there are any number of pressures that make it challenging to maintain a focused outlook. Time constraints, unrealistic expectations, challenging and complex problems, limited resources and competing personal and professional demands all play a role in making it difficult to remain resilient.

Add in the mental and physical tolls that stress can cause and the odds may seem stacked against you.

Assessing and reevaluating to maintain resiliency
A June 2016 article in the Harvard Business Review provides some helpful recommendations to help people solve the puzzle that is inherent in building resiliency. These tools assist the self-evaluation needed to keep resiliency strong and provide a buffer against the pressures that can erode a resilient mindset. Among the suggestions are:

    • Build “positivity currency.” You should bank the positive moments, interactions, events and relationships that can act as a resilience repository, writes David Kopan in the HBR article. This storage silo is there when needed to keep a positive outlook and express gratitude.
    • Keep good records. Recordkeeping is at the core of sound business management. The same goes for you. Writing down positive interactions, events and memories creates a record to which you can refer regularly. Research at the University of Pennsylvania shows that writing these interactions is more effective than non-written forms of activity.
    • Create and evaluate a portfolio. Investment portfolios usually stress the importance of diversification. The same is true of your positivity currency. Invest your time and energy in activities that produce the highest return in creating positive moments for you.
    • Create reports. As a businessperson, you regularly review financials as you progress towards goals and forecasts. You should also consider reviewing your own positivity. Do you have enough of a store that can be used when times are challenging? If not, what can you do to shift priorities? In fact, the review process itself is a moment of resiliency, one in which finding the opportunities for improvement are apt to appear.

Resiliency is a must for long-term success. With the proper focus and tools, resiliency can lead to both personal and professional growth.