Are leaders born or are they made? And if you are a leader, what gives you resilience?
The nature v nurture debate has been around for all my time in leadership development and coaching. My experience leads me to the conclusion that leadership is a learned behaviour although some people may have inner traits that can enable this learned behaviour easier and more natural to pick up.
However the question of what makes a resilient leader is more current. Our fast paced world makes greater demands on everyone these days. Leadership can now be described as a high-wire activity where everyone in a leadership role (at whatever level) is under scrutiny. As business leaders are encouraged to let go and empower their employees to take more ownership, expectations from those they lead are raised. The stakes are clearly getting higher.
The question of what make a resilient leader has intrigued me for some time. This curiosity has recently coincided with a project commissioned by a client to research the ingredients and latest thinking on this subject.
Using my contacts and social networks from across the world, it seems that experience is by far the greatest influencer. Being able to deal with and learn from setbacks is essential in enabling the leader to strive to reach their vision of where their company needs to go. A summary of my research is presented in the word cloud above. Click on the image to make it larger.
In addition to overcoming and learning from setbacks, my research has highlighted that having a supportive environment is essential in building up a resilience. This can include trusted experts from outside the organisation and well as team members from within. This support is necessary to sustain belief and maintain focus. There seems to be a trait of being mentally tough amongst those who thrive on challenges. Having clear goals and knowing your values maintains focus when the going gets tough.
Mental and physical fitness are also important characteristics that have emerged from those opinions sort. Both mindfulness and well-being are now both hot topics in the leadership development and human resources arenas. It seems common sense to look after ourselves to enable us to look after others – but how often is it common practice?
So, please ask yourself how are you building your own personal resilience? What steps are you taking to make sure that you have the support networks in place? Who is giving you the encouragement that you will need to value and learn from your experiences?