Nowadays leaders are faced with ever more complex work challenges, from the threat of a cyber attack to the impact of the slowdown in the Chinese economy. Often managers are having to expand their toolkit to upskill swiftly and manage an increasingly diverse workforce. With sickness absence levels reportedly rising due to stress, it’s no surprise that increasingly one of the key Leadership and Management Competencies we develop during our Executive Coaching, Leadership Programmes and Management Training is Resilience. This is the ability to ‘maintain effective work in the face of set-backs or pressure, to remain calm, stable and in control of emotions and behaviour under pressure, to bounce back quickly from set-backs, to tolerate conditions of uncertainty and ambiguity, and to remain optimistic.’
Some people are naturally more resilient than others and appear to have the mental toughness to cope with pressure, adversity and major set-backs and to recover more quickly. The stages we tend to experience after a major set-back are denial, anger, disorientation, acceptance and renewal. In order to recover from these stages more quickly and cope better with key life events and change, it is important to acknowledge the reality of what’s happening, to identify and challenge the negative thoughts, channel the anger, create and implement a personal vision with goals, and seek out your support network.
Resilience Training can decrease sickness absence levels from between 33% – 60%; this holistic and preventative approach has been used effectively by the US military since 2009. Resilience as a competency is complex but can be developed by honing a variety of skills including:
- Cultivate a Positive Mental Attitude and challenge negative beliefs. After a bad outcome ask yourself: What were the thoughts that were going through my head and how were they preventing me from doing what I wanted to do? Identify how others responded to your actions and behaviour? What could you have done differently or better? Remember the words of Henry Ford: ‘If you think you can or think you can’t you’re right.’
- Become more assertive and learn to say ‘No’ if you are already feeling overwhelmed by work or personal issues.
- Develop your Emotional Intelligence by learning how to identify and manage your emotions, motivate yourself, boost your confidence, build effective relationships, and influence people.
- Manage Stress: Make healthy lifestyle choices: get more sleep, exercise and limit caffeine intake.
- Problem Solve: if possible try to address one problem at a time, identify its root cause and why it’s an issue, then explore possible solutions and options listing pros and cons of each one.
- Avoid procrastination by making decisions: even if a decision ends up being the wrong one accept that we all make mistakes and move on.
- Managing Conflict: 40% of UK employees said they experienced an interpersonal dispute with a colleague last year, so being able to identify and deal with potential conflict situations and handle objections effectively will lead to an improved working environment and a more resilient attitude.
- Develop techniques to manage change: understand that individuals resist change due to disagreement, not being consulted, involved or empowered, being put outside their comfort zone or having a lack of resources to cope. And realize that you may experience shock, denial, blame and confusion, but that over time you will be able to accept the change, make decisions, problem solve, learn and ultimately be in a better situation.
- As in elite sports use Creative Visualization to achieve successful outcomes, such as mentally preparing for meetings or a range of different scenarios. Plan what you will say, how you may react and how to address possible objections, then analyze the results to alter and improve your approach next time.