The need for resilient leaders in times of COVID-19
The COVID-19 crisis in Europe is now reaching a new critical phase, where governments are acting decisively to control a rapid spread of the virus. Numerous countries in Europe going into the phase of Lockdown, where measures are announced and implemented to limit physical contact between people.
In numerous discussion on the internet there is a call for resilient leaders. In this article I would like to explore what we can learn from the term resilient leader. The definition I would use for a resilient leader is a leader that has the ability to survive and thrive through dynamic and unpredictable challenges. In this article we will first have a look what the specific abilities of a resilient leader are in times of crisis and then have a look how you can become more resilient as leader.
The abilities of a resilient leader
The Resilient Leaders Elements (1) give us insight in the four abilities a resilient leader has. The four abilities are:
- Clarity of direction: having and communicating effectively a vision and a realistic strategy for the future.
- Awareness: appreciation of your own and others’ motivations, cultures, strength and weaknesses and using this diversity of qualities in a changing environment.
- Leadership presence: being true to yourself, your values and ethical code. Being in service to others and bringing focus for achievement to your organization.
- Resilient decision making: being able to take valuable ideas from concept to reality, while challenging your own and others biases.
How to become more resilient
Resilience is basically the ability to bounce back from an unaccepted challenge. As a leader you can change your views, habits and responses by modifying your thoughts and actions, which will help broaden your outlook and become more adaptable to change. The need for resilient leaders in times of COVID-19 will help broaden your outlook and become more adaptable to change. To become more resilient I would suggest to focus on the following eights areas (2):
- Accept Change: find ways to become more comfortable with change. Change is constant and inevitable, and you can only be successful if you accept it rather than resist it.
- Learn Continuously: learn new skills, gain new understandings, and apply them during times of change. Don’t hold onto old behaviors and skills, especially when it’s obvious that they don’t work anymore.
- Take Charge: embrace self-empowerment. Take charge of your own career and development. Don’t expect someone else to guide the way.
- Define Purpose: Develop a “personal why” that gives your work meaning or helps you put it into a larger context. A clear sense of purpose helps you to assess setbacks within the framework of a broader perspective.
- Create Balance: form your identity apart from your job. A job is just one facet of your identity, and a career is just one aspect of your life. Separate who you are from what you do.
- Cultivate Relationships: develop and nurture a broad network of personal and professional relationships. Personal relationships create a strong base of support, a critical element in achieving goals, dealing with hardships, and developing perspective.
- Reflect: whether you’re celebrating success or enduring hardship, make time to reflect. Reflection fosters learning, new perspectives, and a degree of self-awareness that can enhance your resiliency.
- Reframe Skills: Question (and even change) your definition of yourself or your career. Reframe how you see your skills, talents, and interests. By casting your skills in a new light, you can see how they might shift into new patterns of work and behavior.
(1) Jeremy Mead, August 2018
(2) CCL, November 2018
- Virtual leadership skills in times of COVID-19 crisis
- Essentials of Leadership in times of the COVID-19 Coronavirus crisis
About the Autor
Andre de Wit has more than 25 years of experience working for large corporate organizations. He worked as CEO of business units in IKEA and the Metro-group. He was the Vice President for Learning and Capability Building for the Metro-group and the Carlsberg-group for 6 years.