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6 Lifesaver Skills for Increased Leadership Resilience

Corporate health · Jan 24, 2022

Resilience is the capacity to adapt to stress, grow stronger and bounce back, leaving us better prepared to meet new challenges down the road. Resilience is an important characteristic of effective leadership. Leaders must both cultivate it in themselves and amongst their team members to help overcome pressure and recover from setbacks. Adopting the right mindset and coping strategies can help provide the framework to restore leaders, and teams, to their full potential.

Learn and develop resilience skills

The road to resilient leadership isn’t simply a lack of adversity in the workplace. We all face stressors from time to time. Resilience involves behaviours, thoughts, and actions from which we can all learn and develop. Developing the skills to foster healthier workplace dynamics takes time and intentionality. Help improve your leadership resilience by using these six lifesaver strategies.

1. Build healthy connections

Resilience thrives on healthy workplace connections. The ability to rely on colleagues for guidance and support is an essential component of coping in times of stress. Resilient leadership is driven by empathy and trust in difficult moments. Encourage these connections by allowing cooperation and collaboration to flourish. Cultivate an environment of compassion and respect, and consider creative ways you can foster social cohesion among co-workers. Be proactive in building your support network—leaders should reach out to peers to network with associates who are experiencing the same challenges.

2. Maintain a positive mindset

In the best of circumstances, workplace stress is inevitable. Resilient leadership involves acknowledging potential sources of stress and how the team may be affected. When colleagues feel supported and understood, they are better positioned to overcome challenges. Maintaining a positive mindset means that we recognize unconstructive feelings in ourselves and others, understand that setbacks happen, and learn to welcome the lessons they yield. 

3. Know your team’s resilience factors

Leaders have a responsibility to consider the resiliency of others. Becoming attuned to the changing attitudes of colleagues can help you to recognize when someone is under a lot of stress. Three protective factors predict whether people will have high resilience–confidence in their abilities, established routines for their work, and social support. Leaders should check in with their colleagues in a one-on-one environment to ask direct questions and address concerns. Leaders who show a clear interest in addressing stress as a performance issue build resilient and confident teams.

4. Foster resilience-oriented conversations

An effective way to increase resilience in the workplace is through guided conversations. Asking colleagues to share positive experiences, compare challenges and how they dealt with them, and visualizing what personal success looks like to them increases resilience. Leading these conversations can also foster a sense of camaraderie by pairing up peers or having discussions in small group settings. Being reminded that stressful times will pass can help in the face of adversity and emphasize that we are capable.

5. Be proactive

Take an active approach to problem solving whenever possible. While some circumstances cannot be changed, avoidance rarely makes problems go away. Aim to focus on the aspects of the situation that you do have control over and consider how you could proceed without being impulsive or responding out of emotion. Recognizing your strengths and ability to problem solve as a leader is an important aspect of building resilience. Being proactive and assertive rather than reactive and aggressive are key components of developing this skill.

6. Find learning opportunities

Identify opportunities for learning within challenges. Reframing the tension means viewing unsuccessful experiences as teachable moments and builds resilience. Leadership involves helping your colleagues recognize talents or skills that might be especially valuable during times of stress. Each team member’s individual strengths contribute to the good of the team, growing group cohesion. Lead discussions on what’s working and the processes that need further evaluation. Highlighting what can be learned and improved upon strengthens confidence and reinforces work routines.

Leadership resilience involves clear communication with colleagues about long term strategies and how to cope with challenges along the way. Making a commitment to address conversations about mental health in the workplace fosters a sense of wellbeing. Leaders can model this behaviour by sharing personal concerns and recognizing when team members need additional support. Now more than ever, we have an opportunity to lead with mental health in mind to support colleagues during these challenging times and beyond.


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Authored by:
Amanda Firby
Fitness & Wellness Consultant