Resilience: Learning the Hard Way

Resilience: Learning the Hard Way

We talk a lot these days about what makes a great leader. There have been hundreds of articles, programs, opinions, strategies – you name it – about this topic. But a leadership skill that doesn’t get mentioned much for either individual leaders or organizations is resilience. 

I have given much thought to this over the last couple of months as I heal from breaking my wrist in December (ran out of my shoes as I was running to catch a bus not to be late for a meeting at the NAR offices to discuss revisions to the NAR REALTOR® Leadership Program (RLP), no less!!) How much resilience did I need to have to adapt to my altered ability to do things like open a jar, take a shower, put my clothes on, etc., etc.?

I found that I needed a lot. But, I found that I could do it – adapting and accepting the reality and making the best of it (and relying a lot on others to help, which is another whole topic).

As I went (and continue to go) through this process, I saw similarities to what leaders go through from time to time when things don’t go as they planned. It’s when the “proverbial animal residue strikes the rotating propeller” – what do you do?

After doing a little research about this topic, I found that many others are indeed looking at this. Organizations that are good at resilience can do things in a couple of ways: 1) managing performance through consistency, efficiency, and immediate results, and, 2) managing for adaptation (through innovation, improvisation, anticipation and commitment to long-term benefits – which really are a bit inconsistent. (Excerpted from article by Steve Wolinski)

What does this mean? These organizations embrace disruption. They have all of the standard things in place (good plans and strategy, effective policies and procedures, etc.), but when that fan starts to circulate the animal residue, they don’t go crazy. They analyze and adjust. If your association is not prepared for life to get in the way of what you expected, it may be time to begin to practice resilience.  How?

Be as prepared as you can be. Leaders are good at this. You don’t want to start practicing resiliency in the middle of a crisis. So, imagine one situation that could really upset the applecart at your association, such as the chief staff executive suddenly resigning with no notice. Are you prepared with a transition process? Think about other potential crises that could arise and take steps for responding – before it happens. Preparing for the crisis will go a long way to keeping everyone calm and in control.
I found a great article titled: 8 Ways to Develop Resilience and “Fall Up” (by Christina Latimer). A couple of those ways are: 1) No matter how bad things are; always try to identify a positive outcome or a way to find an opportunity, even if it’s just to acknowledge that the challenge can be seen as an opportunity to grow, 2) Deal with the “What if’s” – Don’t discount fears; deal with them head on.  Set up an environment for you and your team which allows you to do this.   Develop options in case the worst happens.  Then keep focused on the positive possibilities rather than the worst case scenarios.
Plus, there are multiple resources out there to help you be ready. For REALTOR® associations, see Manage Your Association,  where there are several toolkits that will help you with preparedness. For individual leaders, try Googling resilience and adaptability for leaders. You’ll be astounded at what you find. (And mindfulness comes up a lot, too. I wonder if any of you have begun that practice – it helps!)

You can also be more thoughtful as you develop plans, policies, and other good management tools. This doesn’t mean you should be afraid of taking risks because sometimes that is the best way to innovate. Plan “Bs” are part of that thoughtful process.

Don’t forget good leaders know that asking for help when needed is also a big part of self-awareness and resilience.

My surefire tip, however – just don’t run to catch a bus.

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