Leadership During Challenging Times

The Power of Resilient Leadership During Challenging Times


Many small business owners are going through dark times this year. They are scared and uncertain about the challenges they are facing and how to keep it all together for their teams. I recently heard a CEO say: “I feel some days like I’m driving my team off a cliff.” The struggle is real.

One of my long-time clients and I were talking last week and he said:

“Theresa, I’m worried, because I’ve been a little checked out. I feel like I’ve been a bad boss and I’m afraid I’m letting my people down.”

And as he continued speaking, I could hear the gremlins in his voice struggling to pull him down, largely due to the uncertainty and fear that he has been facing, dealing with so many unknowns. I knew he was feeling lonely, and a bit depressed.

DiscomfortOfUnknown-ManagingForPerformanceAnd as we continued to talk, I realized that what my client is facing is what many of us are facing in today’s world: Extreme discomfort.

  • Discomfort from the unknowns
  • Discomfort from the extra stress and fatigue we all feel from those unknowns
  • Discomfort about the challenge of creating new virtual working environments for ourselves and our people
  • And a touch of grieving, mourning the loss of some of our freedoms and the life we had pre-COVID-19.

My greatest concern for my clients today is their overall wellbeing and a mindset of “getting stuck”, because I realize that today is simply a snapshot in time. This too shall pass. And the one thing I’ve witnessed on countless occasions, working with my high performing clients and watching those that seem to thrive during challenging times, is a powerful growth mindset attribute: Resilience.

Resilience is critical for several reasons…

It enables us to stay fluid and flexible when we feel overwhelmed, it helps us maintain balance in  our lives during difficult or stressful periods, and can act as a shield from developing mental health issues, which our world is struggling with greatly right now. In my experience, people with a positive and growth mindset look for the silver lining even in the bleak situations they face.

Psychologists define resilience as the process of adapting well in the face of adversity, trauma, tragedy, threats, or significant sources of stress—such as family and relationship problems, serious health problems, or workplace and financial stressors.

Now, even though I consider myself an optimist, something about this definition just didn’t seem fitting in today’s world. So, over the past few weeks, I have continued my research about resilience. As I devoured articles and podcasts on the topic of resilience, I found myself asking, “Is resilience even possible when you are running a small, dynamic business during a pandemic? And with all the challenges we are facing in today’s world, at home and at work, how do we find it?”

5 Lessons on being a resilient leader…

Lucky for me, I am privileged to coach and work in the trenches with some incredible teams. As
I look through my notes this year and reflect back on some of my most powerful coaching
sessions with clients, I notice some patterns among my highest performers. So, as with many other lessons I have learned from my clients, I’d like to share with you five things that high
performing leaders are teaching me about being a resilient leader this year:

  1. Be a good communicator. In today’s world, I don’t believe we can communicate enough with our team members and our stakeholders about our challenges, our opportunities and our possible threats. Together we can tackle our challenges and solve problems, but alone we feel isolated and get stuck. And as much as resilience involves “bouncing back” from these difficult experiences, it can also involve profound personal growth. This is where breakthroughs happen. Communication is key.
  2. PeopleDevelopment-ManagingForPerformanceFocus on your people development. There is nothing more powerful that carving out time to help your people identify their personal goals, find strategies to help them grow, and align their talent with the needs of your business. In today’s world we need to pay our bills and take care of our essential needs, but we also need hope for the future and our career wellbeing. Investing time and energy into your team inspires engagement and gives them a purpose to bounce out of bed every day, which we all need when the noise of today’s world boggles our mind.
  3. Get coached and focus on your own leadership development. If you want to learn resilience, find new ways to run your business and try new approaches to achieving your goals. No one wants to grow stagnant, and if you have a coach or teacher in your life helping you learn new skills and adopting new ways to grow and scale your business better, you will feel empowered and look at this crazy time as a gift. My best clients know this innately, they stay the course with their own development and act as good role models to their people. Learning simply feels productive and doesn’t allow for growing stagnant and “stuck”.
  4. Learn to champion change. My most resilient clients have learned to keep one foot in  front of another and stay calm, no matter how crazy things get. There is no benefit to panicking when things get challenging and you have to switch gears, so you might as well embrace it and take on an attitude of curiosity and adventure as you make shifts in how you respond to change. And team members who witness their boss tackle change with more courage will more easily follow suit; it’s contagious.
  5. Accept the things you can not change and embrace the things you can. This old mantra might seem trite, but it’s more relevant in today’s world than ever. What choice do we have? High performing teams look for their ever-changing opportunities and create strategies to go after them, together. They have realistic conversations about what they need to START, STOP and CONTINUE doing on a regular basis so they can keep the business moving forward. Having a little grace and acceptance is a huge part of resiliency, and when running a small business, this is critical.

LessonsForTheFuture-ManagingForPerformanceWe don’t know what the next six months will look like, but we do have knowledge and experience from what we’ve endured so far this year, and that is powerful. What will you take with you as a leader at the end of this pandemic? What are you learning about yourself, and how will you take that knowledge and invest it into your business and your people? If you think about it, you have an opportunity right now to be better and create a more joyful life if you choose resilience as a leader. We all got into this together, and I believe we have the strength to come out the other end of it much happier and wiser if we leverage this gift of time and intention.

You want a better team? Be a better leader. And don’t forget, you don’t have to do it alone.

This is the 5th of six in a series of Leadership Lessons that I will be posting over the next few weeks…

Lesson #1: Five Important Questions To Ask Yourself About Your COMPANY CULTURE

Lesson #2: Accountability – Everything You Do And Everything You Don’t Do Matters

Lesson #3: The Greatest Privilege of Leadership: Developing People

Lesson #4: High Impact Leadership and the Power of Professional Development Planning

Lesson #5: The Power of Resilient Leadership During Challenging Times

Lesson #6: Five Strategies To Help You Lead With Courage In A World Of Unknowns

Whether you are looking for coaching or you would like help with a team event…

call me direct at (425) 241-4855.