Leadership Principles Series | Leading Self with Character: Resilience

Leadership Principles Series | Leading Self with Character: Resilience

Every leader faces adversity and setbacks. When faced with a challenge, leaders need flexibility and persistence to continue to work toward their goals. An ability to look at adversity and setbacks as challenges and opportunities for growth is resilience. When thwarted, resilient leaders maintain focus on their overall goals and purposes, finding new ways to accomplish their outcomes.

Resilient leaders accept change gracefully, recognizing the need to adapt plans as necessary. Leaders' commitment to their purpose or task fuels their resilience. The higher the commitment to the task, the greater the possibility that the leader will display resilience when faced with challenges.

Dr. Jerry Patterson, a professor from The University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB), co-authored a seminal book about resilient leaders entitled Resilient School Leaders: Strategies for Turning Adversity Into Achievement. The concepts in his book embody and summarize the beliefs of MSU's School of Leadership and Professional Development related to resilience.

Patterson writes that resilient leaders:

  • Work to understand what is happening with adversity, determining in what ways they may have contributed to their challenges.
  • Have optimism and positive belief in their ability to accomplish their goals.
  • Are anchored in their personal and organizational values.
  • Stay focused on what is important.
  • Are persistent in tough times.
  • Invest their physical, emotional, and spiritual resources wisely.
  • Act on the courage of their convictions.
  • Take decisive action when stakes are high.
  • Are clear about what matters most.

By learning to lead self with character and respond to setbacks and challenges with resilience, leaders endure to fulfill their goals.

Filed As:  character, leadership

About Becky Robinson

I am the owner of Weaving Influence and the leader of the Weaving Influence team. We help authors and thought leaders grow their online influence. I am also a wife and mom of three daughters, and I enjoy running, reading, writing, a good cup of coffee, and dark chocolate.

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What People Are Saying

  • Becky, I would add one more to your list, based on what I experienced. A manager I know seemed to lead his team through some very tough times with great resilience. I asked him what his secret was. He had put the “tough times” at the corporation into perspective, he said. After all, he had fought in the Viet Nam war, and nothing could compare. His “perspective” was adopted by his team, and it showed.

  • Becky, great post. I believe strong character is the foundation of any great leader – or any person, for that matter. One thing that causes people to get stuck and NOT be resilient is ego and taking an event personally. When we’re focused on our own feelings and reactions to the exclusion of others and the impact on them, we delay the process of working successfully through the challenge.
    That first bullet is all about personal responsibility. A weak self-esteem prevents a person from quickly owning their role and can make the situation worse.
    I like Mary Jo’s addition. One of my business partners, Denny Coates, served in Viet Nam too, and he maintains amazing composure in the face of adversity. His perspective has helped me more than once over the years.

  • Becky,
    Somewhere along the line, I heard the phrase “bounce back ability”. As you point out, leaders who accept change (or set-backs) with grace are those that will endure. One’s true character emerges during the tough times.

  • Nice article, Since the most important thing in the leadership is lead ourselves first before lead other people

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