Successful leadership in times of constant change

Leaders nowadays face numerous challenges. They have to navigate through messy digitalization processes, uncertain future prospects, a perpetual crisis mode and high performance pressure. But that's not all. In addition, leaders must ensure that their remote teams work efficiently, compensate for the shortage of skilled workers to the best of their ability, meet high regulatory requirements... The list goes on. These complex challenges on multiple levels make it clear why a traditional leadership style often no longer works and why leaders quickly become overwhelmed. But how can leaders meet today's requirements successfully without burning out? Resilience is the key starting point to equip leaders for their complex tasks and prevent burnout. In this article, you can find important aspects to consider.

We are currently in the midst of a paradigm shift from the leader as the "sovereign know-it-all" who knows no uncertainty or doubt and clearly states, "I will tell you where to go," to the role model who confidently acknowledges and endures uncertainties. Older leaders, in particular, struggle to abandon the leadership style they have been trained in for decades. On the other hand, young leaders find it difficult to establish clear guidelines for action in this jungle of requirements. In both cases, resilience is a helpful starting point for not despairing in the face of current conditions. But how exactly can leaders manage to adopt a contemporary leadership style and effectively fulfill their leadership responsibilities under difficult circumstances? Resilience must be considered on two levels:

  • Personal Resilience: Leaders must develop personal strength and resilience to fulfill their tasks.
  • Team Resilience: Leaders must foster the resilience of their team by creating the right conditions and demonstrating resilient behavior.

The persolog® Resilience Model, which focuses on personal resilience, is divided into four areas: Accepting, Feeling, Gaining Orientation, and Understanding. This model helps illustrate the mindset and behavior that can assist leaders:

  • Acceptance: Being able to accept one's own leadership situation in uncertain times lays the foundation for the right mindset. On the one hand, it involves leaders accepting themselves as they are, as well as taking responsibility for the circumstances and situations they are faced with, without blaming others.
  • Feeling: A leader needs the ability to handle emotions mindfully. This includes being aware of one's own feelings and, in the next step, dealing with them mindfully. By consciously addressing our emotional reactions, we can dissolve internal blockades caused by emotional turmoil and address them directly. Especially in crises and challenging situations, it is crucial not to let negative emotions block us, but to be proactive and capable of taking action. Only then, we can consciously influence our own emotions in a positive way.
  • Gaining Orientation: This aspect involves finding orientation in difficult times and seeking support. It also requires internal flexibility to approach new solutions when a plan is not feasible. It is important for leaders to recognize when they are unable to proceed in order to actively seek and accept support, rather than trying to handle everything on their own.
  • Understanding: This involves reflecting on one's own behavior and questioning situations to break problematic automatisms. It also includes cognitive empathy towards team members to understand when they are facing difficult situations. This approach not only helps solve problems, but also enables leaders to act preventively.

Resilience-oriented leadership strengthens team members and helps everyone to perform their tasks well even under difficult conditions. What should leaders focus on to promote resilience within the team? The persolog® Team Resilience Model provides assistance by highlighting six relevant factors:

  • Meaningfulness: Building identity, developing culture. Meaningfulness describes the team's ability to form a shared identity and culture based on common values and goals. A resilient team manages to develop a sense of "we" that enables them to stick together and make decisions collectively, even in challenging situations.
  • Psychological safety: Building trust, strengthening connection. Psychological safety means creating an environment within the team where everyone can freely express themselves without fear of consequences. A resilient team strengthens trust and connection by fostering open communication and mutual support.
  • Team efficacy: Having optimism, mastering challenges. This factor describes the belief that the team, together, is capable of overcoming difficult situations. A resilient team maintains optimism and uses its skills and strengths to tackle challenges and achieve success.
  • Clarity and structure: Clarifying expectations, shaping communication. This aspect emphasizes the importance of clearly communicating expectations and structuring communication effectively. This enables the team to define clear goals and responsibilities and promotes open and transparent communication for swiftly resolving issues and working efficiently.
  • Action and solution orientation: Proactively adapting, being flexible. Action and solution orientation means that the team acts proactively and adapts to changes. A resilient team maintains composure in difficult situations and collaboratively seeks solutions, enabling quick and effective action.
  • Team learning: Overcoming experiences, reflecting on lessons learned. This entails perceiving setbacks as a natural part of the learning process and drawing future-oriented conclusions from these experiences.

To analyze and develop these aspects of resilient leadership together with leaders, business trainers and coaches are more in demand than ever before. The persolog® Resilience Profile and persolog® Team Resilience Profile help assess the current state and reveal potentials. This way, leaders can systematically enhance their own resilience competence and make their teams more resilient.

► Find out more about resilient leadership at the International Online Trainer Day 2023, Sept 26th.