Today’s leaders are leading in unprecedented times, with a pandemic, an economic downturn, social upheaval and technological disruption all acting as major sources of adversity. During the worst of the pandemic, organizations have been required to rethink and even transform aspects of their business models to continue to provide value to customers. Business model transformation and innovation doesn’t just happen; it is envisioned and unlocked by resilient leaders in these organizations who thrive in the face of challenges posed by adversity.
Resilience is built by attitudes, values and behaviors that can be adopted and cultivated over time. Every leader has an opportunity to become more resilient by practicing the seven traits below.
1. Empathic tendency:
Resilient leaders are the first to acknowledge and address the emotional aspects of disruption and change. They seek to reassure employees, promote calmness and remove fear, while at the same time they are honest and realistic about the impact of the crisis. They also acknowledge, respect and adapt to evolving individual circumstances, needs and preferences.
2. Collaborative spirit:
Resilient leaders place emphasis on thoughtful, efficient and inclusive collaboration to handle change and disruption. This includes making sure that there is open communication, transparency and collaboration among all stakeholders, including customers, suppliers and other partners, in order to drive systemic stability. Resilient leaders view collaboration within the broader context of the ecosystem in which they operate.
3. Bias toward action:
Resilient leaders are not stuck in either paralyzing denial or reactive mode. They staunchly accept the reality of the situation and the need for swift, informed action. In times of uncertainty, resilient leaders go on the offensive. They quickly make sense of their new context, generate options, realign and marshal resources and motivate the team.
4. Improvisation mindset:
Resilient leaders have an ability to improvise and are not afraid of redesigning processes, procedures and rules to accommodate new realities. They do not force-fit legacy processes and approaches. They understand that in a crisis, business processes might need to change on a dime or be adapted and scaled according to new requirements. They welcome the chance to innovate and design the future in the midst of a crisis. They create new options by staying mentally agile which allows them to pause, reflect and reorient their perspectives.
5. Learning mindset:
Resilient leaders allocate the time required, even in the midst of crisis, to reflect and learn and encourage this practice in those they lead. They use the present challenges as opportunities to plan and prepare forfuture disruptions. They also encourage the team to question assumptions about how the business should work and continually challenge those assumptions.
6. Thriver attitude:
Resilient leaders emphasize to their teams that the goal is to emerge from this period stronger, and not just to survive the moment. Resilience in leadership means not only being able to adapt to adversity but to actually grow from it. Resilient leaders envision scenarios by which if they take decisive action, the adverse event could actually turn into a positive outcome for the business. Then, through their leadership, they make this positive outcome a reality. That’s what thriving amid adversity really means. At the root of their “drive to thrive” is their underlying belief that what they do every day has important meaning to themselves, their teams, their organizations and society.
7. Unwavering integrity:
Resilient leaders are those who, regardless of how challenging things become, never, ever compromise their corporate and individual integrity and values. They consider these values to be sacred and not to be compromised when the going gets tough.
In reflecting on the learnings from 2020, organizations would be well-served to assess the resilience in their leader population and to prioritize resilience among the most critical competencies for development. We cannot predict when we will face the next crisis, but one thing is certain: Those organizations with resilient leaders will come out ahead.