How to Become a Resilient Leader – Part 1

Resilient treeLeadership can be a very lonely job. Often people rise to the role of leadership and find themselves isolated and struggling with loneliness – and those around them don’t even realize it. This sense of isolation makes leaders vulnerable and sometimes less resilient.

Many good and talented leaders have lost their way and found themselves out of leadership because they were not resilient, so when the pressure came (which comes to all leaders), they were unable to survive. They ended up compromising their core values or were not strong enough to influence those they were leading to follow them.

In the next two weeks, I want to suggest some steps you can take in the pursuit of becoming a resilient leader. The following suggestions are by no means exhaustive.

What is your passion? What gets you out of bed in the morning, other than coffee? When you think about what you do, does it excite you to get up in the morning to start doing it? When you are passionately driven to lead, you instinctively develop the self-determination to do your best and to always want to do it right. You come to the realization that your passion greatly defines who you are and ultimately how you are known by those you lead.

When you are driven by results, power, money or recognition, you will struggle when the tough times come. Not that these things do not motivate a leader – because they do. But the challenge with these external forms of motivation is they are controlled by others. On the other hand, when your passion for what you do, which is internal motivation, becomes your driving force for your leadership, you become resilient and are able to survive, even thrive, during the tough times.

Passion means your motivation is internal and self-generated rather than external, which can be controlled by others.

What are you good at? Knowing this is very important if you are going to be a resilient leader. Knowing what you are good at speaks of self- efficacy and self-confidence.
According to Albert Bandura, self-efficacy is “the belief in one’s capabilities to organize and execute the courses of action required to manage prospective situations.” In other words, self-efficacy is a person’s belief in his or her ability to succeed in a particular situation. Bandura described these beliefs as determinants of how people think, behave, and feel (1994).

Self-confidence grows out of self-efficacy. Leaders who are confident in their abilities are often resilient because they know what they are capable of accomplishing and are therefore not easily discouraged or derailed from pursuing their goals. They offer hope and inspiration to those they lead with their self-confidence.

What’s your level of self-acceptance? A resilient leader is one who has strong self-acceptance. When we’re self-accepting, we’re able to embrace all facets of ourselves not just the positives people have come to like about us. Self-acceptance is unconditional, free of any qualification. We can recognize our weaknesses, limitations, and foibles, but this awareness in no way interferes with our ability to fully accept ourselves.

As a result of you fully accepting yourself, you become resilient in the face of challenges because you are not depending on the opinions of those you lead for your sense of worth. You know who you are – warts and all, and you are comfortable with you.

Many leaders struggle with self-acceptance because they fail to fully accept their strengths and weaknesses. They developed a reputation for their strengths, which is often why they are asked to lead. But resilient leaders are leaders who have learned to embrace both their strengths and weaknesses.

In today’s world of leadership we see a lack of leaders who are resilient enough to withstand the challenges. When faced with tough leadership challenges, the lack of resilience leads them to change jobs, sometimes even changing careers, or if they have the option – take early retirement.

Have you been tempted or are you being tempted to give up on your current leadership role because of the challenges? Maybe it is time for you to move on, or maybe it is time to start develop your resilient muscles.

What kind of legacy do you want to leave behind as a leader, one who could not lead in the tough times, or one who was resilient and could be depended on and trusted not matter what the challenge?

If you would like help in achieving your goals in any area of your life, call us at 208-880-0307 or email us at to schedule a complimentary coaching session. To read Errol’s other posts, visit Christ-Centered Life Coaching.

Photo credit: DaveReichert / Foter / CC BY-NC