Ordinary Resilience and Extraordinary Resilience: Leaders Need Both

| November 7, 2014 | 0 Comments

Resilience: Beautifully Ordinary

Without resilience, the everyday setbacks and surprising derailments of “best laid plans” would eventually make us wonder if we can face another day. According to the American Psychological Association (APA, 2002), resilience is the  ability to adapt well to disruptive change, and literally “bounce back” to previous levels of functioning. Here is the good news: resilience is beautifully ordinary; most of us are blessed with basic systems of adaptation that allow us to soldier on even when facing incredible adversity. Ordinary resilience provides us with the strength to get on with things.

Leadership Resilience: Extraordinary

When disruptive change occurs in organizations, all eyes turn to the leader: How will he or she respond? Given the complexity of organizations, leaders cannot just bounce back when facing change and adversity; they must actually take action that inspires others to step into the new reality with hope and vision. In other words, if ordinary resilience is bouncing back and resuming the path one has been on, then leadership resilience is bouncing forward and leading not just oneself, but others, into new and ambiguous realities.

The ability to be highly resilient and bounce forward into new realities makes leadership resilience closer to what we see in the phenomenon known as posttraumatic growth, than ordinary resilience. Like posttraumatic growth, which involves movement beyond pre-trauma levels of adaptation (Tedeschi & Calhoun, 2004), leadership resilience has a quality of transformation about it—it is not about staying the same, it is about becoming better as a result of the hardship.

Highly resilient leaders have a knack for bouncing back faster and with less angst than other folks. And, when they get their feet under them, highly resilient leaders hit the ground running– They move into the new realities with an optimistic eye for spotting opportunity.

Fear not leaders! You already have beautifully ordinary resilience. Your real challenge is to cultivate leadership resilience, the extraordinary ability to transform loss into opportunity and growth.


Category: Elle Allison Napolitano, Leadership Resilience, Resilience, Transformational Leadership Coaching

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