“Those who have a why to live, can bear with almost any how.”

  – Viktor Frankl, Man’s Search For Meaning

There are 114 million Google results for “resilience articles”.  That’s a lot of scholarly papers, articles, commentaries, essays, theories and books, and suggestions for how to build resilience. What somehow gets lost in all of that is – what is resilience?

Resilience is the ability to withstand the challenges we encounter and to thrive because we believe in our reason for being.

Resilience is both individual and organizational. It is personal and unique.

It is defined by authors Zolli and Healy in their book, Resilience: Why Things Bounce Back, as the “capacity of a system, enterprise, or a person to maintain its core purpose and integrity in the face of dramatically changed circumstances.”

It is the ability to pick yourself up, dust yourself off and figure out how to stay standing, and take the next step.

When you are an organizational leader, it is a little more:

  • Leaders must have the capacity to bounce back. They need a deep level of purpose, both personally and organizationally.   That purpose must be coupled with the discipline and courage to remain true to their values while approaching changed circumstances with optimistic realism.
  • Leaders must set the example for others. They need to demonstrate characteristics necessary to complex problem solving; deep thinking, creativity, persistence, connecting and cooperating with others, and trust.  Of course, there are requisite underlying skills and abilities that provide the basis for those characteristics.
  • Leaders must understand the complexity of the systems within which they function and recognize their own and others’ inability to conceive of and manage all the consequences of decisions.
  • Leaders must be compassionate. They must forgive themselves and the people around them for tripping and falling.  They must provide the helping hand when it is needed.
  • Leaders must have a sense of humour – about themselves, others, and the world around them.

For leaders,  it is remaining clear and certain about your why.

Leaders and Resilience
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