Practical Strategies to Apply the Leadership “Superpower” of Resilience to Create the Results You Want – No Matter What You Face
Every individual and every organization will face difficult circumstances, disappointments, setbacks, and roadblocks. Resilience is the characteristic we use to bounce back, pick ourselves back up, and rekindle our faith that we can achieve our goals.
Resilience is so important to leadership, in fact, that we call it a “superpower” at Brave Thinking Institute. Resilience is a quality that we help our clients cultivate, whether they’re enrolled in a business leadership program or the Life Mastery Consulting Transformational Coach Certification Training.
Much of what we teach about resilience comes from a great book called The Resilience Factor. It’s a powerful piece of research on what it takes for those people who are able to express great resilience, what they do, and what they have.
A Legend of Resilience and Leadership
140 years ago, the village of Maiwand, Afghanistan, was overrun by a fierce battle. The residents were resisting with all their might the efforts of an opposing force that was looking to take over the area — and the people who lived there.
Despite fighting with everything they had, the villagers were being outmaneuvered and overpowered by their opponents. As they noticed that they were losing, a feeling of dejection began to spread through the ranks. The group began to retreat and give up ground.
Among the villagers was a teenage girl who noticed her countrymen retreating. She climbed up a hill to address their ranks — and persuaded them to halt their retreat with the power of her voice and words. She reminded them that it was better to live one day as a lion than it was to live for 100 years as a slave.
Her voice was not all this young woman used. When she was done speaking, she ran to the front of the army, turned them around and led them back into battle.
That brave move ended up costing her life that day; she was shot and killed. Yet, the inspiration that she invoked in her people led them onto a great victory. Her bravery and resilience live on today in that part of the world in the legend of Malalai of Maiwand.
Inspired Resilience in Leadership for Modern Times
Fast forward to modern times, there is a continuing battle going on in that area of the world. This time, the battle is being fought over education — specifically, over the question of whether girls deserve to be educated.
In Swat Valley of Northern Pakistan where this legend originated, a school teacher opened a school for boys and girls, because he believed that both boys and girls deserve to be educated. At the time he opened this school, the Taliban was blowing up schools that educate girls.
It just so happens that his firstborn child is a little girl. What does he name her? Malala.
Malala grew up learning from her father how to use her voice — and how to lead. She began to lend her voice to the argument that girls have the right to be educated. The Taliban viewed Malala’s outspokenness as a threat.
Like the legendary Malalai, Malala was shot for her voice, for speaking out, for leading. The difference is that Malala lived. Many people would have chosen to stay quiet after surviving a Taliban assasination attempt. Malala chose to bounce back and continue leading. Malala is the youngest person to ever win the Nobel Peace Prize and continues to inspire audiences around the world with her passionate message. Hers is an amazing story of resilience.
4 Ways to Use Resilience in Your Leadership
Exceptional leaders use resilience in 4 major ways to stay on track toward their goals and to achieve results no matter what life throws their way:
Leaders Use Resilience to … Overcome
Challenges and roadblocks happen on the path toward your vision. Where many people see these as stop signs, great leaders view them as detours that can be overcome. Resilience will help you optimistically face and overcome any obstacles you face.
Leaders Use Resilience to … Bounce Back
Difficult moments are a part of life. As the saying goes, It’s not how many times you get knocked down. What matters is how many times you get back up. Resilience is what helps you pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and get back in the game.
Leaders Use Resilience to … Steer Through
When you’re facing difficult circumstances, sometimes you can’t see a clear path to the destination you want. You simply have to move forward in faith, steering through whatever comes your way, and trusting that you’ll be able to deal with situations and challenges as needed. Most leaders I know have made extraordinary use of resilience in this regard during the challenges we’ve faced because of the pandemic.
Leaders Use Resilience to … Reach Out for Support
This is the only proactive way to use resilience — to recognize that what you’re facing or about to face is something you can’t handle easily on your own. Resilient leaders are exceptional at getting the support they need early, which helps them steer through, bounce back, and overcome challenges more quickly and easily.
Use Resilience to Strengthen Your Leadership
We have the opportunity to lead in every moment. We lead ourselves to take the actions required to achieve our dreams. We lead others by the examples we set. We may lead others formally in our jobs, volunteer organizations, or other activities.
Resilience strengthens our leadership, making us unstoppable as we pursue the visions of what we want to create in life. I encourage you to experiment with these strategies and use the legend of Malalai of Maiwand, as well as the story of Malala, to inspire you to continue to be resilient.
As we’ve seen from the legend of Malali, learning how other leaders draw on their resilience to achieve results can inspire our own actions. Let’s share with each other! How have you used resilience to overcome, bounce back, steer through or receive support in challenging circumstances? Please share your thoughts and stories below.