Turbulent Times Call for Resilient Leaders

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These are tough times to be a leader, whether at a Fortune 500 or a startup; whether you’re running a business unit, a function, or leading a team of teams. For starters, economic headwinds have forced leaders to open spreadsheets, reexamine growth and hiring plans, and balance transformative initiatives against predictable products. Where do you invest? Where do you hold the line? Where do you cut?

Business issues are one set of problems, but leaders are also having to figure out how to rebuild cultures, to create connections among team members they don’t know–and that don’t really know each other. It’s challenging work with no easy fix. We’ve seen our clients deploy enormous resources to ensure their managers and team members were equipped to thrive, and to engage clients and customers in completely new ways.

But few leaders have invested in themselves, and they’re burnt out. A recent survey from Deloitte found that 70% of C-suite executives were “seriously considering quitting for a job that better supports their well-being.”

Quitting isn’t the answer. To be successful amidst today’s volatility, leaders must learn how to be more resilient. They’re going to have to rebound after defeat, and after their teams’ defeat.

A new set of skills is required to keep leaders buoyed and ready:

  • EQ over IQ. One study suggests that 85 percent of financial success is attributed to EQ, not IQ, and that has big implications for how we must lead. Empathy is the word we focussed on during the pandemic, but it is just one small part of emotional intelligence, and being resilient goes deeper still.
  • Embrace failure to achieve groundbreaking results. Any leader can do “blue sky” thinking and lay out a strategy under the best of circumstances, but the best leaders thrive when nothing is going their way–I call it “dark sky” thinking.” Similarly, being an unabashed optimist is the easy and fun part of leadership, but it’s those slightly jaded optimists who are most likely primed for resilient success because they see things that others don’t.
  • Recalibrate wellbeing. What’s the point of leading through a transformation if you have to sacrifice your mind, body, relationships and long-term health? Yet, leaders must do this while being in tune, and in touch, with the hardships their team members face as well.

What changes are you making in your organization to build resilient leaders?

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