Resilience, the ability to recover from setbacks quickly and effectively, remains one of the most important parts of business success. Markets move very quickly, and companies need to be able to shift strategies and accept change, even in the fact of adversity.
Resilience in a company starts with a resilient leader who understands how to take calculated risks and, at the same time, prepares for the unexpected. However, few leaders are naturally resilient. Instead, resilience is something that individuals build over time by working on other key traits, including the following:
Risk awareness and management
In the past, risks concentrated primarily on operations, but much more is at stake today. Leaders need to worry about the company’s reputation, as well as their relationships with stakeholders. Part of a leader’s job is thinking about the risks of any decision or situation and creating contingency plans that will provide guidance should something bad or unexpected happen. With a contingency plan, even a cursory one, leaders know exactly how to react, and they avoid panic that can cause even more issues. In turns of building resilience, leaders should focus primarily on high-impact, low-probability risks that could put the future of the company in serious jeopardy.
A commitment to ethics and integrity
When business leaders respond to interview questions about what contributes to resilience, two concepts that come up frequently are ethics and integrity. However, it is not enough to merely have a company ethics policy. Leaders also need to demonstrate and embody how ethics and integrity are part of the company’s daily culture. With a strict code of ethics, leaders have something to fall back on when it comes time to make difficult decisions. A solid foundation of ethics and integrity can also push individuals to act in responsible ways and provide solutions when leaders are at a loss for what to do.
Flexibility and acceptance of change
Adaptability is an incredibly important trait for business leaders. Modern markets are often unpredictable, and leaders need to appear confident and in control when the unexpected happens, even if the future becomes ambiguous. Part of adaptability is keeping an ear to the ground and trying to foresee change. At the same time, leaders sometimes need to accept that fighting against change is often a waste of time and energy.
A strong support network
Resilient leaders ask for help with they need it. Having a strong support network means someone is always there to offer guidance, which can significantly mitigate stress levels. Having a large support network also means having people to turn to when the unexpected happens. Isolation results in brooding and frustration. The ability to talk out problems and get feedback ultimately results in better decisions.
A clear sense of motivation
When people know what they are fighting for, it is easier for them to keep fighting. This is why leaders need to know exactly why they are doing what they do. In times of crisis, leaders can use this knowledge to stay persistent. However, motivation is different for everyone. Some people want to be the best in the industry, while others are trying to prove themselves to friends, family members, or other loved ones. Regardless of what the motivation is, it is important that leaders understand it and know how to harness it.
Ownership over decisions
Sometimes, leaders fall into the trap of thinking about their decisions in terms of sacrifices. The problem with this philosophy is that it robs leaders of their agency. Instead, leaders need to think of their decisions as active choices because doing so reinforces the fact that they have control over the situation. Taking ownership over a situation helps leaders see setbacks not in terms of what has been lost, but instead in terms of the new opportunities for growth that have arisen. In business, setbacks and failures are normal. Owning the decisions that led to them helps leaders learn from their mistakes and do better in the future.
Appreciation of external trends
Leaders must have a concise vision of the trends occurring in their particular markets as well as the larger sectors around them. Everything from government policy to new competitors can present new challenges to a company, so it is critical that leaders stay informed. In many ways, information is power. Understanding a problematic situation helps individuals avoid feeling overwhelmed and is, in fact, the first step toward a solution. Leaders who can explain mishaps based on trends earn the respect of their employees and serve as a good role model for dealing with the unexpected.
An optimistic outlook
Being resilient means being open to new experiences. When people have a positive outlook, they are more likely to be proactive rather than take a wait-and-see approach, which can prove disastrous in business. Optimism encourages business leaders to be competitive and take risks, and then helps them bounce back quickly from failures by pushing them to see the upside in every situation.