Monthly Archives: November 2019

“Who am I”? Where resilience starts

Some leaders are like bouncy balls: Even under enormous pressure, they don’t get distorted, but retain their original shape. Some rise to even greater performance, as soon as the stress is on. Their secret weapon: resilience, inner strength. How can leaders increase it? How can they strengthen their backbone, especially in times of transformation? The first step: by getting to know themselves better.

To become a more stress-resistent leader, you have to be aware of where you start from. What are your strengths? How do you deal with stress? What are your strategies? I encourage you to be brutally honest with yourself, when answering these questions. Getting to the bottom of your personality might be uncomfortable. But it will pay off, when you face the next high-tide of stress.

Question No. 1: What are your strengths?

In “stressful” times, we might feel overwhelmed and mentally overloaded. How can we counteract that? By concentrating on our strengths! Think back to a past situation, in which you felt severely stressed: back then the challenge seemed to be formidable. Today, it seems less so – because you know, you have mastered it before. What was your strategy to do so? What character traits helped you out and how could you benefit from them in the future? With every challenge we face, we grow. Be proud of every small achievement and you can look into the future with optimism.

Question No. 2: What are your stress factors?

“Stress” is subjective. Find out, which situations are particularly stressful for you? Answering this question, you should separate external and internal factors. Is it the pace, high workload, tight deadlines, tensions from conflictual demands? Or are there simpler reasons, like you have not had enough sleep, you haven’t had enough sustenance or exercise? Try to identify and memorize the personal alarm signals telling you that you are “stressed” and “stretched”. Next time you feel them, you can immediately put your brain into the “stress fight mode”, which leads me to question 3.

Question No. 3: How do you react to stress?

Analysing your reaction to stress will bring about a varied picture. What are the “no-gos” you’d better avoid next time? What do you typically do well? And here you complete the circle, looking back to your strengths and how you can benefit from them. Set yourself some guidelines, when you are not stressed: your crisis manual for times of pressure.

Getting to know yourself better is an exciting, yet demanding, undertaking. Some frameworks, like MBTI, might help you to discover yourself even better, to understand what stretches you and triggers stress reactions and to consciously deal with stress situations. Yet these frameworks only put words on what you know anyway best, yourself! And knowing yourself well is the base to strengthen your leadership, especially when stakes are high in times of transformation.

Interested in finding out more? Want to share your own tips? Then please send in your comments!

Difference between recognition and appreciation

Thank you, Mike Robbins, for bringing to attention the difference between recognition and appreciation. I particularly enjoyed the quote from Teddy Roosevelt: “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” There is one little word I’d like to add to your call: Do recognition and appreciation TRULY. That is what will make the whole difference, and your people will notice.

Did you express this week appreciation and recognition, precisely, timely and truly?

Resilience: Put your own life vest on first

As the year races towards an end, our days become increasingly hectic. The list of things to do and targets to meet just doesn’t get any shorter. The meetings roundabout doesn’t seem to stop, actually it feels more and more frantic. And the days and weeks slip away at a frightening rate. What to do? Where to start?

As leaders, situations like these are supposed to be our bread and butter. We’re supposed to relish the challenge, navigate rough waters and lead our teams through difficult times. But frankly, when urgent tasks are raining down on us thick and fast, sometimes at the cost of time for dealing with important issues and the stress levels rise, we can feel like we are losing control. We are desperately looking for times when we can stop & think, better plan, regain energy and feel in control. The point is, to successfully guide your team, you need to get your own house in order – “put your own life vest on first before you take care of others,” as the saying goes.

This is where resilience comes in, courage’s slightly less glamorous but equally important twin. Resilience is the ability to bounce back quickly from adversity and a vital ingredient for any leader. Resilience is the ability to maintain your balance, navigate in uncertainty, maintain a sense of control over one’s environment and move forward in a positive way.

When you are resilient, you understand and creatively exploit your internal and external strengths, so enabling yourself to deal effectively with challenges and significant adversity in a way that promotes health, well-being and an increased ability to deal constructively with future adversity.

And it needs to be carefully nurtured.

To build up your resilience, I recommend three things.

First: keep in mind the place you want to arrive at. If you have a clear picture of your final destination, the success that awaits at the end of the tunnel – if you can put that into words and share it with others, that image will be like a lighthouse, guiding you through the present storm.

Second: focus on your strengths. If you identify your strengths – also asking those you trust for their input and advice – you will realize which ones, in the current situation, will particularly help you, so gaining confidence in your ability to face what is, build up optimism and advance towards solutions.

Thirdly, and perhaps most importantly of all: you need to manage your energy rather than your time. Resilience is not just a matter of how you stand up to stress, it’s about how you recover and regain energy. Maintaining physical energy is essential. But you also, equally, need to refresh your emotional, mental and spiritual energy.

Most of us have a clear idea about how to look after our physical energy, through sufficient sleep, exercise, breaks, and a balanced diet, for example. With a few simple exercises you can also regenerate your emotional, mental and spiritual energy, too. Expressing appreciation for those around you is just one of the things you can do to boost your emotional energy, for example.

Interested in finding out more? Want to share your own tips? Then please send in your comments!


It’s a cliché we’ve all used: “Never Change a Winning Team”. But it’s one we should all rethink, as my valued colleagues Richard Robertson, MScFilip Fiers, Paul Van Geyt pointed out in their workshop at this year’s ICF global gathering in Prague.

Being a leader, you never forget that your market and customers are constantly evolving, also becoming more unpredictable, and your organisation needs the right mix of competencies to guide it through different growth phases. What will it take for your organisation to stay competitive and innovative as it develops?

In diverse and inclusive teams, which put a premium on individuals with various backgrounds, competencies, personalities and strengths, everyone has a particular contribution to make in managing the challenges and opportunities your organisation is facing in its current growth phase. As members of the team learn from each other and start to understand each other’s way of thinking, the creative dynamic inevitably weakens. Realizing this and being able to look critically at your winning team at the top and be ready to introduce a fresh impulse is one of the hallmarks of a truly courageous leader .

How will YOU make sure your team at the top stays diverse?