Three Keys to Resilient Leadership

The uncertainty of the past year has been profoundly disruptive. 2020 demonstrated the fragility of some of our most important institutions and it also showed us how resilient and resourceful we can be individually and together. 

Chaotic moments can also be times of clarity.

Many of us have found a renewed sense of focus during these extraordinary times. 

Our clients are not only dealing with the stress but are also asking themselves important questions about life priorities and what comes next. 

  • Will things return soon to a semblance of normalcy? 
  • Is there more disruption on the way that we can’t quite see? 
  • What should I be doing with my life? 

These and other questions are on the minds of almost every leader we talk to. 

For over a decade we’ve been helping people build more agile, responsive and resilient organizations. We’ve seen first hand again and again how positively transformative crises can be and how much difference a single leader can make. 

Through our work and research we’ve discovered three keys to becoming a resilient leader through moments of crisis:  

1. Know Your Values 

Leading through uncertain times requires that we lean into problems we’ve never faced before. There will be times when all our experience, frameworks and plans will be of no use. 

In these moments the only thing we have to guide us is our values. 

Harvard Psychologist Susan David calls this “Walking Your Why” and notes that our core values act as a compass during times of trouble. 

Suggested Action: Each morning sit with a blank notebook for 30 minutes and write out whatever comes to your mind. Be as honest with yourself as you possibly can. Don’t show these pages to anyone, ever. Check out Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way on Morning Pages for deeper instructions.

2. Master Empathic Communication

It’s not enough just to communicate your vision to underlings in times of chaos. You must also be able to step into their shoes and see the world through their eyes. 

Empathic communication means being able to communicate your values and intentions in ways that others can readily grasp AND to be able to listen to their experience. 

Suggested Action: Get our book “Radical Alignment” and use the All-In Method to guide your next difficult conversation at work or at home. 

3. Develop Your Support Network 

No one is an island and we all need support. We need people to buoy our moods, provide alternative perspectives, help us avoid the traps laid by our cognitive biases and help us stay connected to our values. 

While hiring a coach is a great start to developing your network you also need to consciously develop a group of friends, family and colleagues who you can call on when times get tough. Support that flows both ways creates strong individuals and even stronger teams. 

Suggested Action: Reach out to a friend or colleague you respect and who you feel supports you and schedule a time to chat. Do this with a new person each week for the next 3 months. 

These three steps are most powerful when taken together but the most important thing is to start today. Pick an action from the list above and get started — today. 

If you do you’ll be on your way to becoming a better leader and building teams and organizations that can survive and even thrive through chaotic times. If you don’t your organization may be taken out by the next crisis. The choice is yours. 


If you’d like support in becoming a leader who can handle even the most difficult times with grace, ease, and humanity reach out and schedule a time to talk about our coaching programs. 


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