Courage in crises​

How do you work on your resilience? Train it – Gain from it! Here are a few thoughts on where to start.

In times of extreme stress, people often ask me for insights on how to stay the course and continue to show leadership. For me, leadership is all about courage, and courage is the spark that gets us all moving. It is at the heart of what we do as leaders.

But in times of transformation we are constantly faced with the pressure of new challenges, new situations. Our workload can be unforgiving. This is why an essential part of being a leader is finding a way to pick oneself up and get going again when the pressure cranks up and results turn against you.

Because resilience can in fact be developed and trained. It’s not some inherent, immutable character trait. To a large extent, it is conditioned through the experiences that life brings. Both positive and negative experiences contribute to our resilience. “What doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger,” as we often say.

One approach I like to use for talking about resilience is the Robertson Cooper model. According to this model, developed by psychologists Ivan Robertson and Cary Cooper, resilience is determined by four key aspects: confidence, adaptability, social support and purposefulness.

Confidence comes with experience and the knowledge that we have overcome previous challenges. Your adaptability likewise grows with an awareness that you have faced change in the past and have coped and managed its impact. You can train and enhance both your confidence and adaptability by recalling previous challenges you have faced.

Social support and purposefulness relate to specific aspects of courage. Social support starts with having the courage to admit weakness, to articulate when the going gets tough and ask for support. Purposefulness is having a clear set of values which give you an overriding sense of direction even in the most challenging times. Purposefulness is about knowing WHY and understanding the benefits at the end.

Be proud of what you’ve done already and gather the courage to take the necessary step to keep going.