If you are familiar with my story, you know that my business is built on an accusation of incompetence and my personal value of resilience. In case you are not familiar, here is a quick recap. At a time when I thought my career was on the rise, I was gut punched by feedback from a significant stakeholder, who shared with my leader that he thought I was incompetent. He held this perception in the presence of my strong performance results, above average performance reviews, and matching salary increases and bonuses. In a separate conversation with him, this same stakeholder referred to me as mechanical, as if I lacked human qualities.
Soon after receiving that feedback, I was downsized, a decision I’m sure was spearheaded by that same stakeholder. In the weeks that followed, I concluded that maybe I could have done a better job at establishing a connection and building a relationship with this person. That may have given him a clearer understanding of who I am and resulted in a different interpretation of how I show up. When I share this story, people are surprised by my take on the experience.
“I can be changed by what happens to me. But I refuse to be reduced by it.” ` Maya Angelou
Sitting here thirteen years later, I’m thankful for that experience. It has inspired everything I have accomplished since then. It has also informed my coaching methodology, which is based on two premises. The first is the question, “How do people experience you?” The second is my mantra, “Competence is MORE than performance.”
I share this story because it is my story of resilience.
“Resilience is the capacity to not only endure great challenges but get stronger in the midst of them.” ~ Harvard Business School Professor Nancy Koehn
For leaders, building resilience is vital to the successful navigation of challenges and the ability to guide others with courage and conviction. Leaders who possess high levels of resilience tend to be viewed as “more effective” by their leaders, peers, and direct reports.
Here are several tips for building and strengthening your leadership resilience:
Take the time to Reflect and Assess. You must have a strong understanding of yourself to successfully guide others through times of change and uncertainty. Through self-reflection and feedback from trusted peers, you can identify your strengths, weaknesses, and motivational drivers. Consistent assessment of your leadership effectiveness will help you adapt your leadership style. Adaptation will help you tackle complex business problems and steer your team through turbulent situations.
“Resilience is… a learned capability and it’s very much like a muscle, in that we make it stronger by using it.” ~ Harvard Business School Professor Nancy Koehn
Learn and Grow from Adversity. Everyday business challenges provide the opportunity for leaders to learn more about themselves and strengthen their determination to overcome difficulties. Dealing with challenges with a positive mindset fuels bounce back and provides even more information about what truly drives you. Every challenge promotes insight and fuels even more courage and bravery.
Be a Purpose Driven Leader. Purpose driven leaders instill a sense of meaning throughout their teams. They lead authentically and unite team members during challenging times. By doing this, these leaders uncover potential and empower performance, which benefits both team and organizational success.
Cultivate Genuine Relationships. Trusted friends and colleagues become sources of strength and guidance during challenging times. A rich and diverse network exposes you to different perspectives and resources that can help you and your team get the job done. Growing your network creates an assortment of thought partners for ideas and supporters to help build your confidence.
These four tips are applicable to your leadership and your life. Intentionally employing them creates an opportunity to serve as a role model for those you lead and those you love.