resilient leader

Help Your Business Survive By Becoming A Resilient Leader

By Baili Bigham

How do your top performers respond to challenges? Chances are, they meet new demands head-on and tend to bounce back faster than their more reserved counterparts. 

This isn’t a coincidence. While there are many characteristics that make up an excellent leader, one trait they often share is emotional resilience, or the ability to quickly adapt to stressful situations or crises. And because the lines between work and personal living are more blurred than ever, making emotional resilience a necessary life skill for employees, and especially, for leaders.

Why is emotional resilience so crucial at work?

Emotional resilience isn’t just a trending skill. It has proven to be a contributing factor to an organization’s overall success. But it first begins at the very top.

Leaders who promote resilience in their teams can increase productivity, lower healthcare costs, reduce absenteeism, and decrease turnover, according to research by the Center for Workplace Mental Health

Few individuals are born with emotional resilience as their top skill. Luckily, like any other skill, it can be developed with a bit of determination and practice. And through resilient leadership, you can encourage, educate, and inspire team members to build their own resilience in the workplace.

Building resilience begins with mindfulness

15Five’s Co-founder and Chief Culture Officer Shane Metcalf recently participated in a webinar with people leaders from Wellness Coach and Morgan Stanley to discuss what it means to be a resilient leader. And it all starts with mindfulness. Some characteristics of mindful leaders include:

• Effectively managing change
• Taking the time to self-reflect on one’s thoughts, attitudes, and behaviors
• Focusing on one’s health, energy, and stamina
• Finding a healthy balance between intuition and rational thinking

It’s important to remember that mindful and resilient leaders don’t just focus on the wellbeing of others. They also practice deep compassion for themselves.

The missing step: self compassion

The old adage is true; you can’t pour from an empty cup. To become a resilient leader, you must check in with yourself and tend to your own needs before you can effectively support an entire organization.

“When we’re in survival mode, we do not do our best work,” says Shane. Acknowledging that we’re all going through a tough time right now and showing yourself compassion can help turn breakdowns into breakthroughs.

Once you’ve embraced this mindset shift, you can move towards building more resilience in yourself and your organization. 

Tips for becoming a more resilient leader

To support you in leading a successful organization through challenging times, we’ve put together a list of four helpful practices we believe are key to becoming a resilient leader. 

1. Practice gratitude. Start each week with a gratitude exercise. Whether it’s sharing with a colleague or keeping a gratitude journal, you can push yourself to become more resilient by focusing on the positive on a regular basis.

2. Meditate together. Whether in the office or virtually, connect your teams by meditating together. 15Five begins every Monday all-hands meeting with an employees-led, company-wide meditation session. This encourages creativity and allows employees to try a variety of approaches until they find the one that works best for them.

3. Find your purpose. As a leader, make your company’s purpose known. If your teams aren’t connected to the company’s mission, motivation levels will inevitably nosedive. Remind employees that they’re valuable in helping drive that mission forward. 

4. Be aware of your breathing. This is a simple tip you can practice anywhere and at any time. If your breathing becomes shallow, give yourself a moment, and try to deepen your breaths. This can instantly ease any feeling of panic so that you can continue your day without unmanageable stress or anxiety.

Let the chaos of the past few months help shape your organization’s future. Accept the disruptions as catalysts for developing grit, mindfulness, and resilient leadership, all of which will have a positive effect on your organization and overall mission.

Baili Bigham is the Content Manager at 15Five, continuous performance management software that includes weekly check-ins, OKR tracking, peer recognition, 1-on-1s, and 360° reviews. When Baili isn’t writing, you can find her binge-reading a new book or strategizing ways to pet every dog in San Francisco. 

Image credit: Shutterstock


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