By Gabi Lowe & Pippa Shaper, The Resilience Factory
As a woman entrepreneur or corporate leader, you’ve no doubt proved your mettle over and over again. You probably think you’ve got a more than fair handle on resilience – after all, you haven’t got to where you are today without powering through uphill climbs and persevering on a super-hero level. However, if you’re holding it altogether on the outside, while falling apart on the inside, it’s time to rethink your perception of resilience.
We coined the term ‘authentic resilience’ to make the distinction that resilience is not putting your head down and ‘getting on with it’ as you struggle to survive challenging times, but rather thriving through them. It’s highly relevant for leaders, who not only have to get themselves through a crisis in one piece, but motivate and inspire their teams in ways that don’t lead them to burnout, or worse. Over the past years, we have been teaching thousands of people around the world about Authentic Resilience including business leaders who realise that when the chips are down, it’s not how much grit their team can muster up that makes the difference – it’s how much connection.
We define authentic resilience as a critical life skill, the powerful ability to survive, thrive and grow in the face of stress, change and adversity. Everyone has the capacity to develop greater levels of authentic resilience. What we teach is that Authentically Resilient Leadership is a crucial characteristic of today’s high-performing leaders. Leaders must cultivate it in themselves first in order to advance and thrive. Authentically Resilient Leaders carry the responsibility of helping to grow, nurture and protect the energy, talents and potential of the people in their teams. A key point is that it starts with you.
Leadership in times of global vulnerability
If there’s one takeaway from these past pandemic years, it’s that high-level uncertainty and unpredictability are here to stay on a global scale. The ‘new-normal’ that we are now forging is playing out in the midst of a shattering war in Europe, widespread economic hardship and extreme weather events on every continent.
Tumultuous times demand a different quality of leadership. The paradigm of the leader as the always-in-control perfectionist, never making a mistake and wielding the absolute power to protect and to punish is no longer cutting the mustard. In the current context of global vulnerability, that leader is no more than a straw man. The pretences, pomp and puffed-up prestige associated with leadership in the past, today look petty at best and potentially dangerous at worst.
Instead, we are looking towards leaders who care about us. We’re willing to follow those who acknowledge mistakes and share what they have learnt from them. We trust those who manage themselves well and take care of themselves. We respect self-curiosity and self-reflection. We value compassion and empathy. Getting your team, your business through a crisis has nothing to do with cracking a whip, and everything to do with making sure your people don’t crack at all.
When we talk about Authentically Resilient Leadership, we aren’t referring to the theory of what makes a good leader – we’re speaking specifically about leaders who are able to lead during times of change, challenge, adversity and crisis – not just for the short term, but for a lifetime. These are the leaders who can build resilient and adaptive teams.
10 characteristics of authentically resilient leaders
- They take care of themselves and their teams – putting well-being first
- Are willing to change and adapt, remaining open to newness and diversity
- Are able to engage emotionally, both with themselves and their team
- Simultaneously have presence and are present
- Are fully self-aware, recognising their own strengths, weaknesses and patterns of behaviour – they are coachable and can adapt, learn and grow
- Recognise each team member as an individual and will invest in, develop and empower this uniqueness with empathy
- Collaborate and encourage innovative and creative thinking
- Maintain perspective providing a vision, a plan and purpose
- Enjoy constructive relationships built on trust, reliability and integrity
- Communicate clearly and transparently because first, they listened
Challenges present pain; but they also bring about incredible opportunities. At the Resilience Factory, we are women entrepreneurs and women leaders ourselves. We believe that as tough as things are in the world, there are immense opportunities for women leaders to step up. Many of the qualities that the world wants from leaders right now, women are pretty good at. That’s why we urge you not to focus on surviving – with authentic resilience, you, your team and your business can thrive.
Pippa is a Professional Certified Coach and a Director of The Resilience Factory and Trustee of several NPOs and consults in the NPO space. Gabi is a certified Integral Life and Business Executive Coach; founder and owner of The Coaching Nest.