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Resilience in Leadership: Why Resilience Coaching for Leaders Matters

Updated: Jul 11

Why Resilience Coaching for Leaders Matters

Resilience in leadership is becoming an indispensable skill for business leaders to have. Companies today find themselves operating in an environment of uncertainty, rapid change and cut-throat competition.

While these are issues that have long plagued businesses, you can’t help but feel there has been a rapid shift in the last six or so years; a shift that seems to have drastically accelerated post-COVID 19.

It’s safe to say we can all agree on the fact that this is a changing world.

For leadership, it’s crucial to supplement the existing foundations that have always worked with new tools to help you overcome obstacles and steer the ship during these turbulent times. Because no matter the industry, you can bet there will be plenty of hurdles to deal with in this new world.

Against this backdrop of change and new set of challenges to think about, resilient leadership is one of the most important skills business leaders can possess in their arsenal today.

The need to cultivate resilience in leadership

Resilience, simply put, is the ability to adapt, thrive and recover from challenges. It’s a game-changing skill for any leader to have as corporate execs find themselves facing all manner of challenges. And they are plenty, including:

  • Managing crises

  • Motivating teams

  • Shifting consumer buying behaviours

  • Navigating global economic and political headwinds

  • Flexible work models like work-from-home and remote employees

  • Managing a Gen-Z workforce

  • Reskilling key employees

  • Navigating the impact of artificial intelligence (AI) and automation

  • Other challenges like employee motivation and turnover, self-limiting beliefs and habits, you name it

The thing about leadership is that not only do leaders have to manage their own energy, but also that of the people they lead – on top of worrying about external factors. This is why prioritising resilience in leadership is vital.

Resilience coaching ensures leaders are well-positioned to take the myriad challenges in their stride. It also ensures they are well placed to chart a course that primes their companies for success in view of the hurdles they may be facing at any given time.

Resilience coaching equips individuals with skills to work under pressure and manage stressful situations more effectively, with multiple proven benefits touching on everything from mental health, to job satisfaction, personal wellbeing and more.

Resilience is more than just having a strong coping mechanism, however. It’s also a mindset that empowers individuals to thrive in the face of adversity, something leaders often find themselves having to deal with.

Even as companies look for creative ways to cut spending, leadership development – under which resilience coaching for leaders falls – is not something your company wants to skimp on as you look to balance the books.

The impact of having a resilient leadership (and workforce in general) far outweighs the costs of coaching, which is but a drop in the ocean in the overall scheme of things.

After all, when top leadership makes it a habit of demonstrating resilient qualities, it naturally rubs on people across the organisation, with these desired qualities trickling down to middle managers, team leaders and junior staff.

This instils confidence amongst the workforce, with employees fully assured that leaders across the organisation are capable of weathering storms and keeping the company moving forward in times of crisis or disruption.

How resilient leadership looks like in practice

Speaking of qualities, resilient leaders exhibit resilience in many ways.

  • Confidence. Resilient leaders communicate in an assured and measured manner that makes those around them confident in their leadership.

  • Adaptability. Resilient leaders are highly adaptable in the face of change and uncertainty, and open-minded enough to find solutions to challenges bedevilling their businesses.

  • Proactive. Executive resilience coaching trains leaders to be solution-oriented when dealing with challenges. Leaders learn to face challenges head-on and to view obstacles as a chance to learn and grow. They embrace adversity and look for hidden opportunities masked in difficult situations, while staying ahead by trying to understand how different situations can impact their organisation.

  • Level-headed. Another quality resilient leadership possesses is an ability to remain calm and composed under pressure and when confronted with stressful and intense situations, even when they have to attend to unexpected or serious matters.

  • Realistic. Resilient leadership understands the need to remain positive in their outlook or prospects, but to set achievable goals nonetheless while not losing sight of the reality. They also understand the need to put setbacks or mistakes into perspective, and that dwelling too much on the negative can cripple operations and make organisations inflexible and uninspired.

The costs of neglecting resilience coaching for business leaders

With the constant pressure of a dynamic and ever-changing business landscape that corporate executives have to contend with, traditional leadership models that do not prioritise resilience in leadership will be found wanting in the face of emerging challenges.

Despite many executives lacking in resilience training, a SAS study found that 97% of business leaders agree resilience is very or somewhat important. 87% admitted resilience comes in handy when preparing for unforeseen events, with 81% of those surveyed considering business resilience a top priority compared to years prior.

Indeed, companies that do not take it upon themselves to build resilience in leadership often find themselves mired in different challenges.

Some common ones include:

  • Poor crisis management. Resilience is about having the mental fortitude to overcome adversity and adapt to change. When individuals or organisations as a whole lack resilience, it becomes challenging to effectively cope with difficult situations. Leaders who are not resilient enough may struggle with decision-making when dealing with unexpected events, which can hinder crisis management efforts. They may be prone to rash decision-making, lack innovative solutions, less adaptability and their leadership might not instil confidence in those around them. That’s not to mention the mental toll a crisis could have on them, impacting both their mental and physical health.

  • Conflict resolution issues. Leaders, including senior executives, supervisors and team leaders, who lack resilience could also find it difficult to resolve conflicts. Workplace conflict can be a cancer on the organisation. It eats from within, and allowed to linger, can spread across the entire company, resulting in demoralised and stressed-up workers. The result is low productivity and high turn-over rates.

  • Missed opportunities and decreased innovation. Resilience coaching trains individuals to be highly-adaptable in the face of challenges and disruption. Leaders who lack resilience skills may struggle to find alternative paths when faced with setbacks or hurdles. They might be slow to respond to the circumstances either due to a lack of nimbleness and ability to make quick pivots, indecisiveness or a fear-driven mind-set.

  • Burnout. Lack of resilience in leadership can lead to burnout and emotional exhaustion. Leaders are often subjected to high-pressure situations which can be a huge energy drain. Without the necessary coping skills, this can easily take its toll and lead to stress and burnout. This can have a cascading effect, negatively impacting creativity and problem-solving, performance and overall company health of the company.

  • Reputation damage. Lack of resilient leaders can have a negative bearing on any company’s reputation. Mistrust in leaders erodes trust in a company and can lead to a negative perception from customers and potential talents; or even investors. The implication could be disastrous.

The perils of not cultivating resilience in leadership extends beyond these few examples, and the ripple effects can be immense. Just as good leadership qualities spill down to the rest of the company, everyone tends to follow the lead set by the top. If the leadership is poor, middle managers and team leaders model their own style of leadership on that template, and that can be damaging.

That is why the importance of building resilience in leaders cannot be emphasised enough.

Develop your leadership resilience through coaching

Leadership resilience is a dynamic concept that involves cultivating several critical skills and resources that leaders need to thrive in the face of change and adversity.

Coaching is a great tool through which business leaders at all levels can develop qualities like coping strategies, adaptability, emotional intelligence, empathy, communication skills and more.

And that’s the best part about it all: resilience is coachable, and with the help of a qualified resilience coach, it is possible to become a highly resilient leader capable of providing innovative solutions to the toughest of challenges.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What is leadership resilience?

Resilience in leadership is the ability of a leader to adapt, thrive and bounce back from challenging situations and setbacks. With leaders facing unprecedented disruption and constant pressures, resilience is a necessary skill for both survival and success.

A resilient leader rarely crumbles under pressure. They are able to learn from failures and can spot opportunities in challenges. They are proactive, confident and focused.

Resilience coaching lessons can instil in business leaders important qualities like adaptability, critical thinking, risk approach, growth mind-set, authenticity, stress management and plenty more.

Why is resilience important in leadership?

How to build resilience in leadership?


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