Resilient leadership and it’s relationship to your culture is a current hot leadership topic. One of the most powerful predictors of our ability to bounce back from difficult times or withstand adversity is the support of others. As a leader, you need to look at the culture within your team, department, or company and see if it supports resilience or not.
A culture that doesn’t encourage the building of resilience says:
- You’re on your own.
- Don’t make mistakes.
- Asking for help is a sign of weakness.
- Push through whatever it takes.
- Change is good and here’s more change.
- Whatever you do don’t say anything that might be misinterpreted by another as offensive.
If you want to build a culture that encourages, resilience here are three strategies to implement.
Create a sense of belonging and tribe
Individuals who feel like they belong in a group have a stronger sense of self-esteem. If the group behaves like it is a safe environment within which to speak, the individuals are more inclined to feel trust and share their ideas, thoughts, and challenges earlier.
- What is something long-term and meaningful that individuals can belong to?
- What are the shared beliefs the group has?
- What are the benefits of working together, supporting each other, rather than competing?
- What can the group do consistently that delivers business results and success in a way that supports and encourages all involved?
- What does the group wish to be known for?
Make space, and you’ll get pace
Runners don’t run all the time. It’s not sprint after sprint, or marathon after marathon. There is a change of pace and scheduled downtime.
We now live in an always-on society. Phone, email, ping, swish, beep and if we’re not careful we respond like Pavlovian dogs. Even in meetings, training, 1:1’s – ping, swish, beep and we shift our focus and attention without scanning the moment to confirm this the best moment to do so.
I’ll leave focus and multi-tasking to another day. What has been proved regarding human efficiency and effectiveness is we work more productively on long time tasks with contrast. This contrast could be that we have a difference of speed with which we do things or taking a short subject matter vacation.
I am infinitely more productive, especially when the pressure is on if I make space to hit pause and do something I find rejuvenating. It could be taking some deep breaths, a quick 5-minute meditation or taking a short walk outside. Sometimes just getting out of the building and staring at the sky is all it takes to clear my head.
If I have a real knotty problem to solve I’ll take it for a long walk. I’ve even done this with clients I’m coaching. A change of environment, pace, air somehow seem to do the trick. I deliberately do a version of this on a training program I run, without it the results are not the same.
You may be thinking these ideas don’t seem very business-like and leaving the building isn’t going to work in all situations but think about it. Within your line of work, what can you support that does allow for some change of pace that gives you and your team members time to pause?
Pauses rejuvenate, allow for reflection, for inspiration to land, for stress and toxins to dissipate. Never underestimate the power of the pause.
Improve relationships, encourage real conversation
If we don’t trust or know the people we’re in conversation with we are more likely to misinterpret what’s said and not say what we mean (i.e. withhold information or tone it down so much it says nothing).
If someone doesn’t trust you and you ask for their ideas/ thoughts/opinions, what do you think you’re going to get? Building trust, increasing it, maintaining it even requires real conversations rather than surface ones.
We build these conversations up one at a time and get to know a person much better. At the beginning of this article I mentioned not saying anything that could be misinterpreted as offensive, how did you react when you read it? Now there is racism, sexism, and many other isms that are offensive as well as very tiny minded and should not be tolerated.
However, taking offense where non-was intended does impact a person’s resilience. In the end, they become overly sensitive and hard to converse with. I recently heard in a company that the telling of any jokes and the use of humour should be stopped as not only might the person you say it to be offended but “someone over-hearing might find it offensive”.
Here is another example, I have a Yorkshire accent, sometimes people tease me about how I say words. Experience means I can generally tell whether someone is teasing me from affection or building connection and those people who are just being rude. If I’m not sure I’ll have a conversation with the person to clarify or if it is rude to give them feedback.
As a leader be aware of your position, as people may not always let you know how they took it, and yes feedback helps us learn how something was received and where collectively or situationally something is appropriate or not.
We learn what was said with the intention of malice, offense, or small-mindedness through experience.
No one should have to accept or tolerate malice, that is not healthy resilience. However, when it wasn’t meant that way, but we were hurt then through having a conversation and allowing for reflection, we offer the opportunity to all parties to grow in awareness and resilience.
I’m am witnessing an increase in conversations between middle-tier leaders who are saying it’s best to stay bland. They have zero intention of saying anything with malice but just in case better play safe than offer up an opinion.
They are also saying there is an increase in the lack of trust. If we stay on the surface we don’t demonstrate real conversations, we don’t run the risk of being misunderstood, we don’t connect. We are role modelling a lack of resilience because it is a lack of resilience that says I’ll shy away from all of this.
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