Saturday, March 22, 2014

6 Ways Leaders Can Build Their Resilience

by Vera Woodhead, Coach, Facilitator, Trainer in Leadership, People, Learning & Development, LinkedIn:

Change, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity can be found in most workplaces today.

In such environments, leaders are required not only to cope with the resulting adversity, emotional ups and down and stress, but at the same time, to support their people and help them move forward in these challenging times.

This requires leaders to be resilient. This is the ability to deal effectively with stressors, pressures and challenges and perform to the best of your abilities irrespective of the circumstances in which you find yourself.

Although we cannot control what happens to us, we can control how we respond. This was demonstrated when working with some senior managers of an organisation which is undergoing restructuring and significant changes.

- Mary is overwhelmed. The changing and challenging demands of the job are affecting her work and home life. She finds it difficult to sleep and this is making her short tempered. Her colleagues describe her as someone who is becoming disengaged; less focused and is negative in her attitude. She is constantly whinging, blaming others for the ‘mess that we are in’, that others ‘don’t understand or care’ and has fallen out with her team

- Sue knows that she cannot influence the decisions made and that they are outside her control. She gets on with doing her job and has taken the view that ‘we have come through worst than this’ and will do so again.

- Helen has adopted a, ‘bring it on’ mindset and is constantly looking for solutions to the problems that are arising. She sees it as a challenge, as learning and is realistically optimistic. Her ‘can do’ attitude is appreciated by her team.

Feeling positive, being in control and doing the job in hand whilst facing tough times, hardship, overcoming obstacles and bouncing back are aspects of being resilient and all of which can be developed.

The best approach is to build your resilience on a daily basis so that it becomes part of your everyday routine and habits. Try these 6 strategies:

1. Build connections

Engage, connect and build relationships with a wide range of people. Invest the time in getting to know others. When you need to let off steam, find a listening ear, a supportive friend, some advice … you will have an array of people to call upon, who will want to help and support you.

2. Manage your energies and take care of yourself

Eat healthily, aim for enough rest and sleep, be active and exercise as much as possible. It releases those feel good endorphins which are an instant pick me up. It will also give you the time and space to think, reflect and put things into perspective.

3. Be mindful and meditate

Bring awareness and commit to noticing new things in your daily life - your emotions and feelings, the things that you do on auto pilot, the people who you are interacting with, the conversations that you having and the environment around you. Breathing exercises and meditation can help you to relax, declutter the mind and increase your focus. You can find a wealth of information and resources on the web

4. Stretch yourself

Do something that you have never done before on a regular basis. This could be anything from trying out a new recipe, learning a new skill or language or taking up a hobby or sport. Undertaking new things and learning new ways can help to build our inner strength and resourcefulness thus enabling further positive coping.

5. Reach out and help others

This can help to reduce self centredness and a fixation on our own problems. Try volunteering your time by offering to mentor someone, helping out at a local group or becoming involved in something that interest you. The more we do for others, the more rewarding and enriching our lives become.

6. Build your positivity

Identify and use your strengths on a daily basis, hang out with positive like minded people, act as you want to feel and use positive language when you speak.

How do you cope with uncertainty, stress and challenging situations? What strategies have worked successfully for you?

Vera has learned much of what she knows about organisations, people, leadership and development through her 25 years of working as a leader, manager, coach, lecturer, mentor, and parent.

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