Think back on your most vivid memories. First work experiences. Recent career moves. There’s a high likelihood that some of your most defining moments revolved around a crisis or crossroad in your work or life and how you and the people around you responded.
As a leader, it’s easier to shine in clear skies. When business is in autopilot with all systems in synch, managers oversee operations as to not disrupt the well-oiled machine. The true test of a leader, however, comes in navigating rough waters. Leaders rise to the occasion when it’s time to disrupt to impose and manage change in adversity. You’ll be remembered most by your resiliency.
For these reasons, I’ve been an active learner and subsequent teacher of all things resiliency. Resilience is defined as the power or ability to return to the original form, position, after being bent, compressed, or stretched; elasticity. The ability to recover readily from illness, depression, adversity, or the like; buoyancy.
In business, I define resilience as the ability to recover quickly and advance forward from hardship, both mentally and physically, so that as leaders we can maintain a high level of performance and focus over extended periods of time.
There are three areas to strengthen in our leadership reserves so that we shine in challenging times: selfcare, delegation and mentorship.
You’ll find truth in the analogy of the airline oxygen mask; to best help others during a flight crisis, you must put the oxygen mask on yourself first. Good leaders prioritize their mental and physical health as a part of their daily schedules. When it comes to selfcare, the little things add up and do make a difference.
- Fuel your body properly. Track your actual food intake and reduce sugar and processed foods whenever possible.
- Get consistent sleep. Try to get on a regular schedule of six to eight hours per night. Limit your screen time, especially right before bedtime.
- Move daily. Consider a standing desk, parking further away from the office entrance and taking the stairs.
- Stay positive with mental recovery. Maintain perspective in processing concerns, uncertainty or fears through journaling, meditation, prayer or some combination. Focusing on progress and what is going well will reset your approach and reactions.
If leaders insist on being in the minutia, the result will be a logjam of efficiencies and approvals. Delegating to the smart, skilled leaders under you is critical during times of adversity and for their opportunities for growth and exposure.
- Define your high-payoff activities (HPAs). It’s important to decide what is worth your focus and attention and what is best managed by other competent leaders. Do you really need several members of the leadership team in the same meeting, or is this an opportunity for others to step up?
- Leverage strengths. Pick the areas where you can best guide and coach while empowering others to take the lead in areas that may be a known weakness for you.
- Be willing to trust. Teams must know that you believe in them to bring recommendations forward and see alternatives from a view you don’t have. Your people will rise to the occasion when you trust them to succeed. Trust must be built from the top down.
Many of us have excelled in our careers because a leader served as a mentor in our path, guiding us with advice. The reality is that you never stop learning no matter what position you hold. When facing challenging times, it’s helpful to have mentors in place as a sounding board.
- Find your coach. Seek out a person in your industry or city who can meet to give wise counsel and networking suggestions. Good mentors have mentors, good coaches get coached.
- Develop a personal board. Consider bringing a few people together to give career advice and identify blindspots for advancement.
Corporate America is sailing in unchartered waters today. Leaders at all levels are having to redirect operations to react to changing environments and global crises in record time. The ones who will leave a positive legacy will have found balance in selfcare, delegation and mentorship. I hope you are one of those leaders, shining in resilience.
President – Budros, Ruhlin & Roe