How to Thrive as a Resilient Leader

Resilience is a concept that is starting to take on a life of its own. It’s like the buzzwords self-awareness and emotional intelligence, which are staples and must-haves in a leader’s toolkit.

First, let us start off by defining what resilience means. According to Psychology Today, it is the psychological quality that allows some people to be knocked down by the adversities of life and come back at least as strong as before. Rather than letting difficulties, traumatic events, or failure overcome them and drain their resolve, highly resilient people find a way to change course, emotionally heal, and continue moving toward their goals.

Research shows that there are certain factors that allow a person to be more resilient, such as a positive attitude, optimism and being self-aware, in order to regulate emotions. They also have the ability to see failure as a form of helpful feedback.

Optimism, for example, has been shown to reduce the impact of stress on the mind and body in the event of unsettling experiences. It provides people with access to their own inner strength, enabling cool-headed decision making and action towards more productive outcomes.

How resilient are you? What is your first reaction when adversity or challenges arise?

Let’s have some fun and take this short quiz to gauge how resilient you are.

Read the following sentences and rate yourself on a scale of 1 to 10 accordingly. Scale: 1 very little - 10 very often 

1.   I look to create positive situations, turn negative ones around, and see lessons that can be learned from negative outcomes.

2.  I believe I have the ability to influence situations and deal with challenges head on.

3.  I have a clear sense of purpose and can make decisions quickly about where to allocate my energy.

4.  I enjoy exploring new, unfamiliar, or complex ideas and cope well with ambiguity.

5.  I find engaging with others to be easy and natural, and I am prepared to reach out to others for help when needed.

6.  I enjoy creating, managing, and applying structures that enable systematic movement when dealing with challenges, and will use systems and processes to coordinate activities with others to achieve mutual success.

7.   I seek out new challenges and have a strong belief that positive results will occur; this often shows up as curiosity and an exploratory approach to the world.

8.  I am open to exploring new arenas and taking action “outside the box,” even if there is some possibility of making mistakes or incurring other risks. 

If you rated yourself between 8-10 for each of the statements, you have a high level of resiliency and can handle stress, change and the unknown with confidence and optimism. If you scored between 6-8, you have an average to strong level of resiliency and can deal and cope well with change and the unknown relatively well. If your score fell below 6, there is an opportunity to work on strengthening your resiliency muscles, and here are some tips to help you do so. 

Shift Your Thinking

To develop resilience, you must understand how you think about adversity, stress, and challenging situations. When something goes wrong and we react in a negative way, it increases our likelihood of becoming depressed or anxious, which can lead to us feeling hopeless or helpless. The self-talk, that little “inner critic” drives other counterproductive thinking styles like catastrophizing, having a fixed mindset, perfectionism, and other unhelpful thinking patterns. The good news is that we can retrain our brain and shift old habits of self-sabotaging behavior. It starts with shifting your thinking.

When you become stuck thinking in a counterproductive way, ask yourself one of these questions to help you shift or reframe your thinking: 

What impact is this really having on my life?

How will I feel about this 6 months from now?

What can I control or influence in this situation?

What advice would I give someone else who is in the same situation?

Create Deep Connections with Others

Creating deep connections is one of our pillars of our Grounded Leadership framework. Research has shown that it is critical to a happy, healthy, and resilient life. When we have deep, meaningful relationships with others, it creates a high sense of trust, where we feel 100% comfortable being ourselves. This type of relationship also breeds a high degree of mutual respect, which we all desire from others in our lives.  

In addition, I encourage you to be mindful of the company you keep and be aware of who you surround yourself with, as your connections directly influence your happiness. There is research in the field of neuroscience that shows that emotions are contagious. “Mirror neurons” in our brains literally catch on to another person’s mood, and we can inadvertently take on the same emotions.

First it starts with genuinely caring about your people and their success. Many of you who have worked with me have heard me say repeatedly, “If you do not care about other people’s success, then leadership might not be for you.” I suspect that if you are still reading this, you do care, so read on.

The most effective way to help you build deep connections with your people is to get to know them as people. What is their story? What challenges or goals do they have, and how can you support them?

You simply cannot lead and inspire a person you are not connected with. We all have a story; relationships are based on how well we work to understand each other’s stories.

Optimism & Inspiration

Optimism helps to improve our overall health, wellbeing, and level of effectiveness in several ways. By reducing the sense of helplessness that tends to set in when people feel out of control, optimism helps to motivate people to take constructive action vs. dwelling on what they cannot control. An optimistic leader perceives the strengths and helps employees build on them while simultaneously inspiring them to improve upon their areas of growth and development. With this type of positive environment, employees are more inspired to give their individual best.

The secret to inspiring others is to build meaningful connections with your teams and colleagues. Successful leaders understand their people’s tendencies, attitudes, and behaviors well enough to work well with them and motivate them. They also get to know them on a “human level”– what their story is, background, etc.

People want a leader who pays attention and genuinely cares about them. Inspiring leaders are those who use their unique combination of strengths to motivate individuals and teams to take on bold missions – and hold them accountable for results. They unlock high performance through empowerment, not command and control. They are also skillful at creating “emotional connectedness” with their people by showing them how their contributions impact the big-picture vision and deliver value to the organization.

Stress and adversity are a consistent theme in life, and we do have a choice in how we react and respond. The above are a few simple ideas on how to strengthen our resiliency muscles and how to create an environment where high performance thrives.  

More Tips and Advice on Resiliency

What are your thoughts about the resiliency and why it is a must-have for leaders to thrive? What do you do to strengthen your resiliency muscles? I am extremely passionate about this topic, so feel free to reach out to me directly. I would love to chat with you in more detail. Call me at 1.855.871.3374 or email me at 

I am passionate about your success and would love to help you build your resiliency muscles, so call me – let’s chat!

Ready to partner with LeadersEdge to drive organizational performance?

connect with us