Category: Blog Roll

How to Build & Show Resilience as a Leader

Leaders don’t need to be resilient only in times of crisis; they need this every day. Consider that most of us experience disappointment and suffer failures every single day, in addition to coping with the history-making and world shaping events going on around us. For example, when:

  • The traffic light that turns yellow just as you approach it and you are already late for an appointment
  • Or the store doesn’t have an item in your size.
  • Or when you forget to hit “send” on that email and miss a deadline.

These are minor hiccups in the grand scheme of things. What leaders (and their team members) can often do better is apply the same coping skills we use to deal with the little things to bigger disappointments and failures.

You can begin to do this by noticing first what exactly you are thinking about a big disappointment and then redirecting those thoughts toward a growth mindset and productive actions.

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Get Better as a Leader Based on What You’re Doing NOW

“During a time like this, we’ll either get better as a result of what we choose to do as teams and organizations, or we’ll be diminished for what we fail to do.” – Patrick Lencioni

This quote rings incredibly true for so many of us working to keep our organizations afloat, both amid COVID-19 and in the wake of the terrible injustice that we witnessed so recently in Minnesota and Georgia, among other places. What we do in a time of crisis, in a time when everything feels so difficult–how we show up in business and in life–will profoundly impact where we are three months, six months, a year from now.

What we don’t want is for this cycle to repeat itself, again, 100 years later, as it already has.

We must take action.

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Consistency in Leadership Even in an Inconsistent Environment

There’s a limit to consistency in business today. Whether it’s because the markets are swinging wildly, the fate of the organization is uncertain or changes in technology mean the organization is shifting…change is in the air.

It’s the leader’s responsibility to balance consistency in being both adaptive and responsive in a crisis, making decisions and communicating information as needed. Consistency, or a lack thereof, is just one of the barriers to organizational change.

What matters most is looking at all the factors involved and making changes that are in the best interests of team members and the organization, while keeping an eye on the checkpoints and benchmarks that ensure business continuity.

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Adjusting strategic direction with change on the horizon

You have a strategic plan for your organization or your team, but what happens when an unplanned change is upon you and you need to adjust the course?

Communication is key but will be unsuccessful if it lacks direction or a cohesive message. That’s why it’s so important to think about who is delivering the message and how it’s being delivered.

From the moment you begin to plan or implement any type of organizational change, first clarify your objectives. Think of your objectives as the roadmap that will guide you to your intended destination.

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How to reduce resistance to change with communication

Change is happening in every facet of business today, whether we’re prepared for it or not. And, let’s be honest—99% of us weren’t. As a result, employees might be scared, resisting change because they don’t know what it means or how it will impact their own futures. It’s up to you to help reduce resistance to change.

Fear is not a good passenger for any movement, but often leaders forget that the single best tool to combat fear and resistance is communication.

One study found that the single biggest reason for organizational failure to successfully implement any kind of change is “clear and frequent communication.” When combined with your team’s natural resistance to change, this barrier makes sense. In fact, every reason for individual change resistance can be at least partially mitigated through intentional and proactive communication.

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Getting Past Change Resistance

Change resistance is natural for humans. Leaders struggle with it because they recognize change will create more work for their teams in the short term, they don’t want to take the reputation hit if the change doesn’t go well, and deep down they fear some loss of control.

Every change is inconvenient and taxing, but change is a necessary rung on the ladder of growth. Especially today, when public buildings are shut down and team members move to remote work in the wake of COVID-19.

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How Ethical is Your Organization?

In September 2016, Wells Fargo made headlines when allegations surfaced that its employees created more than 1.5 million fake deposit accounts and half a million fake credit cards while under pressure to increase sales numbers. Then in March 2017, it came out that the actual number of fake accounts was nearly twice what was originally reported.

How did this happen? Employees at Wells Fargo were strongly incentivized to grow their numbers regardless of how that impacted their customers and the customer experience. The organization as a whole became overly focused on a single, narrow metric (this many new accounts). People didn’t stop and think about the unintended consequences of having such a narrow focus.

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What 360 Feedback Looks Like in Your Leadership Journey

It’s rare that leaders get the feedback they need the most from their teams. Team members are reluctant to speak up, no matter how open the leader (you) say you are. Enter the formal 360 feedback process.

Think about the last time a direct report approached you and said, “I noticed you didn’t react when Janet started crying in the meeting. You may not be aware of this, but it made the rest of us uncomfortable because you seemed cold and uncaring. I think this is something I can help you with. Are you open to talking about this and may I make some suggestions?”

Subordinates rarely, if ever, will come to their managers to offer their observations and their help, especially when it comes to their manager’s behavior. Most managers say they want feedback in their team meetings, so they assume that if people have any actual feedback to offer they will share it. Unfortunately, declaring an open door policy does not guarantee anyone will walk through it.

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Why Humility in Leadership is so Essential

Humility is one of those leadership behaviors that is paramount to long term success. One can rise to become a leader without this quality, but he won’t necessarily continue to succeed without it.

I define humility in leadership two ways. One, modeling through our words and our actions the feminist perspective that all human beings are fundamentally equal and none should automatically be granted power over another on the basis of their inborn characteristics. Secondly, that we take full responsibility for our impact on others—including acknowledging and apologizing to them when we have made an error. When leaders do these two things consistently, they will show up as both more effective and as humble to others.

But why is humility important as a leader? Why do the work to ensure you’re humble? (Isn’t humility the characteristic of a weak person?)

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How to help your team members work on themselves

Leaders need to work on themselves and have a plan for development throughout their careers. That’s one hallmark of true leaders—their desire to continue to grow and develop.

But part of a leader’s responsibility is to facilitate growth in their team members as well, to encourage team members to grow professionally—into new roles and as part of a team.

Leading people to grow goes well beyond asking them to set goals and scheduling quarterly check ins. It requires a special kind of leader who is open to change, tolerant of some failures or missteps and ready to commit their time to support others.

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