Are You Resilient?
By: Randy Wolken, President & CEO

As a leader, are you resilient?  Do you stay committed to accomplishing the task at-hand despite the obstacles?  Do you have a can-do attitude?  If you can say yes to these questions, you are resilient.

In the 21st Century, successful organizations have resilience as there go-to skill.  Team members and leaders who demonstrate it can excel and be promoted with this vital skill.  In fact, studies have shown that many of our greatest leaders and individual contributors actually developed this capability as children and young adults.

In 1962, a study was done of 400 famous men and women of the 20th Century.  The study’s authors selected individuals that had at least two biographies written about them.  Subjects like Louis Armstrong, Frida Kahlo, Marie Curie, Eleanor Roosevelt, Henry Ford, and John D. Rockefeller were among the group studied.  What was determined was that a large number had developed the skill of resilience as children or young adults.  Over 75% of those studied had grown up in a family burdened by a severe problem such as poverty, abuse, absent parents, alcoholism, serious illness, or some other misfortune.  As one of the researchers wrote, “the ‘normal man’ is not a likely candidate for the Hall of Fame.”  Of course, no one wishes that any child or person be raised or exposed to such difficult situations.  However, it is clear that their ability to excel later in life had a lot to do with developing skillsets – legendary skillsets – that helped them do more than survive.  They actually thrived. (For more on this topic, see the book Cradles of Eminence: A Provocative Study of the Childhoods of Over 400 famous Twentieth-Century Men and Women.)

What researchers are finding is that resilience is a skillset that can be learned.  If we are exposed to challenging situations, with the right support, learning, and mentoring, we can learn how to be successful despite the difficulties experienced.  And, in today’s fast-paced, ever-challenging world, we need this ability more than ever.

So, as a leader, what are you doing to grow resilience as a capability for you and your team?  What challenges are ahead that you can use to grow this capacity?  What kinds of training and learning are necessary to advance this skillset?  And, if this is not on your radar screen, when will you devote time to understanding this and tackling it?  Now, is probably the right time to focus on building a more resilient company.