Is it time you exercised your “resilience muscle”?

by Chloe Taylor28 Nov 2014
In a recent report by Stephenson Mansell, the theory that resilience is becoming a critical requirement for leadership was tested by surveying over 130 executives from medium to large organisations.

Stephenson Mansell also investigated the macroeconomic conditions which companies are facing in the current world of work as well as the most effective methods for developing resilience in leaders.

Ninety-one per cent of participants in the survey considered resilience to be the most critical requirement for leadership. Other traits included communication and presence, strategic thinking and judgement.

According to the report, the two biggest challenges to executives are productivity pressures and business uncertainty, with the most challenging generalised business conditions including volatility, complexity and ambiguity.

Participants deemed personal attributes critical to successful leadership to be discipline, clarity in ambiguous circumstances and the ability to anticipate scenarios.

Leadership development programs were voted the best technique for developing resilience, with the most effective leadership development methods being voted as 360 degree feedback and executive coaching – the least effective methods were said to be generic solutions and large-scale programs.

The study also questioned what causes leadership derailment, with the most common responses being the inability to act within an ambiguous environment and a short-term focus.

The conclusion of the study’s findings was that executives want effective leadership resilience over increasingly longer periods of time, providing long-term business sustainability.

“The connection between increasing business uncertainty and challenging environments is requiring an increase in personal resilience amongst leaders,” she said, adding that the issue is “how to maintain this effect without burnout.”

“We’re hearing about traditional models being threatened,” Mansell told HC. “But what came out of the survey was uncertainty in terms of margins being squeezed and productivity issues, and people are finding it difficult to manage and maintain a complex and changing environment.”

“One of the best ways of building resilience is by providing consistent feedback,” Mansell said. “This boosts confidence, and if people are confident they will be engaged and continuously perform well. Feedback also provides an opportunity for leaders to develop a stronger relationship with employees and their teams, and builds trust and empathy in groups across the organisation by allowing workers to share their experiences and lessen any pressure that they feel they are under.”

She added that the younger generation expects and relies on feedback more than Baby Boomers.

“Having the skills to do this productively is important,” she continued. “It’s important to have feedback, but also to remember not to just make it an event, but how you manage. Listen, understand and ask questions – find out how you can support your employees. Ensure that you provide follow-up discussions and apply the feedback’s conclusions to how the employee works.”

Mansell also told HC that a lot of organisations do ‘token feedback’ without really engaging it, which is a waste of their efforts.

“If you’re going to do it, do it properly or don’t do it at all,” she said. “This is a process – it’s building up the resilience muscle in the workplace to be able to bounce back where change is happening all the time.”

According to Mansell, the importance of building resilience as a leader is relevant to anyone in a position of authority.

“Every industry is being impacted,” she said. 

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