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Resilience: Flex and Bend like Gumby

A person’s response to stress and change is often a reflection of that person’s ability to adapt and flex  – their resilience. Like a little green claymation character, resilient people can change gears gracefully, quickly envision Plan B (and C and D), and keep focused on the end goal despite the detours, road blocks and hazards on the way there.

Leaders who are resilient set a tone for their teams that is confident and reassuring, a tone that maintains progress and productivity even while the sands are shifting under their feet. Conversely, leaders who break rather than bend will find themselves with employees who are confused, frustrated, perhaps even fearful - but not productive.

However you show up as a leader, whether it’s calm or frenetic, assured or afraid, focused or overwhelmed, your team will become a reflection of you. Stress can be contagious, as can resilience and humor and all other behaviors that we bring to our work. Showing up resilient gives your followers the confidence to resist panic, the inspiration to stay on task, and the motivation to remain committed to the goal.

Resilience is a practice and a shift in mindset. We often attribute drama in the workplace to those who are not resilient. That ability to weather a storm, bounce back from a failure, and be calm in the midst of a storm are characteristics that define unflappable, resilient leaders.  They manage stress, chaos and discomfort as just part of the job, and they take the time to practice those things that build resilience, such as disciplines around taking care of themselves, managing their priorities and establishing boundaries around their work and their relationships.

Resilience is finding a center of gravity and strength from which to operate in a consistently changing complex and complicated work environment.  Knowing you can bend and being willing to be uncomfortable are highly stabilizing characteristics of strong leaders.