By Emma Brock, Global Head of Organisational Effectiveness, Wavemaker Global
We are facing unprecedented challenges in our world today. The disruption of the past year has made this one of the toughest tests of leadership in recent times and if there is one trait that all leaders need right now it is resilience – the ability to withstand change and to bounce back when things go wrong. As we are faced with yet another lockdown in the UK, our resilience is being tested like never before and business leaders are continuously having to adapt their approach to leadership, digging deep to motivate themselves and their teams to safeguard their businesses.
Out of all of the different leadership attributes, resilience is fascinating because it can be developed. And the best way of developing it is to experience all of the negative, difficult, and distressing events that life throws at you and recover, adapt and move on. We will all learn a lot from this crisis but what about now?
Here’s three steps you can take to strengthen your resilience and be best prepared to handle the continued disruption created by the Coronavirus, and the economic fall-out that it will inevitably bring:
Think of all of the set backs you have had, the failures that you encountered and the times that you really, really messed up. Now think about how you overcame them, how you learnt from them and how you picked yourself up and moved on. All of these experiences have given you the resources to be resilient and to bounce back from the crisis. Use them. Also think about your support network and connect with them. Who has helped you in the past, not just within your organisation but in your personal life? Who is there for you now to lend an ear or offer support? Who can help you through this? Do you have a mentor, former colleague or friend that you can turn to?
Feel the now
Focus and feel ‘in the moment’. With our (and our loved ones) health at stake, jobs on the line, companies struggling, hospitals overwhelmed and markets melting, it is easy to get trapped in a pattern of negative thinking. This narrows and clutters our minds and prevents us from thinking clearly about the best course of action. The best advice here is to use techniques to bring you in to the present moment – to calm your mind and increase your own mindfulness. Mindfulness not only aids clear thinking but it can help you recover more quickly from stressful or unexpected events.
Taking steps to look after you physical and mental health are important factors in fuelling resilience. Making time for exercise, eating well and getting enough sleep is fundamental to physical resilence.
Its easy and natural to focus on the negatives during a crisis situation such as this pandemic but every crisis passes and this one is no different. Think ahead with positivity – what will this crisis teach us all? What could the potential benefits or opportunities be coming out of this situation? How can we use it to make things better? At Wavemaker we’ve adopted an attitude of Positive Provocation to help our people and our clients to grow – the crisis has thrown the world in to a spin and this is an opportune time to challenge what has gone before. Focussing on the future in an optimistic way and visualising what it will look like will help you to fuel your resilience reserves. It may also be helpful to set clear short, medium and long term goals to stay on track and ride out the storm.
Resilience is essential for navigating through a crisis. It can be nutured and developed but it takes a conscious effort and its never been more important to do so. While change is ongoing effective leaders need to demonstrate and develop their resilience on a personal level but its also essential to support its development among your workforce, by providing the right tools, resources and support.
Although it may not feel like it right now, the current situation is a temporary setback and with vaccines starting to roll out there is light at the end of the tunnel. Keeping things in perspective, staying calm and setting clear and achievable goals for the near and long term future will better equip you and your business to survive and even thrive as we emerge from the pandemic.