Resilience in leadership: how to improve your skills

Did you know that resilience is a learned skill? Here’s how to improve your resilience in leadership.

How to enhance your resilience in leadership

The hottest topic at the moment is resilience in leadership.

The US Army States that the six resilience competencies are:

1. Self awareness
2. Self regulation
3. Optimism
4. Mental agility
5. Strength of character
6. Connection.

Together, these six factors and are the building blocks of improving resilience within oneself.

Training on these competencies makes you turn yourself inside out, and learn more about yourself, and how to work on yourself and become more effective and helpful to others. These are vital qualities as a team leader.

How do your resilience in leadership qualities stack up?

Resilience in leadership has many facets. It’s recommended that you take a look at each of these resilience in leadership qualities, and identify areas where you’re strong – but, most importantly, the areas where you would benefit from improvement.

Then, when you have a lit of areas of improvement, think practically how you can work on these, and prioritise the areas that you feel you need to.

1. Setting yourself goals 

Set both personal and professional goals, with a plan to achieve them. This is nothing but good leadership and self-management – which in turn requires self-motivation and a degree of resilience to achieve your goals.

2. Being connected to others

Relationships that can provide support and caring are one of the primary factors in resilience. Having a number of these relationships, both within and outside of the family, that offer love, encouragement, and reassurance can build and support resilience, by developing new friendships, for instance. 

3. Being aware of your thoughts

Are your thoughts positive? Negative? Encouraging? Or do you tend to self-sabotage, or suffer from imposter syndrome? Monitoring and adapting your thoughts and editing your personal outlook are important facets of resilience. Meditation can be helpful with practicing thought awareness, and positive mantras can help with improving your personal outlook.

4. Being flexible

By definition, flexibility is a key component of resilience in leadership and one of the primary factors in emotional adjustment and maturity. This requires that an individual be flexible in their thinking and actions, such as by trying something new.

5. Being able to make realistic plans and take action to carry them out 

Being able to see what is, rather than what you would like, is a part of this skill. Being proactive rather than reactive and assertive rather than aggressive or passive are components of this skill, for example taking a Red Cross course in CPR and First Aid.

6. Being able to communicate well

Communicating well with others and being able to problem-solve both individually and with others is a key skill. This includes basic communication, listening, and problem-solving skills, such as by working as a team member.

7. Being able to manage strong feelings

This requires being able to take action without being impulsive and responding out of emotion. It also encompasses the ability to put emotions aside when clear thinking and action are required. Being able to use thinking as a way of managing one’s emotions is a key component of this skill. For example, when you’re angry or hurt, think before you act.

8. Being self-confident

Having a positive self-image is critical for resilience in leadership. It means you have the ability to confront and manage fear and anxiety in your life, such as by helping someone else. This directly translates to resilience in leadership.

9. Being able to find purpose and meaning 

Being able to make sense out of what is happening and to find meaning in it is critical if one is to be able to manage the feelings that are aroused in a crisis. Spiritual and religious practices are often a component of this factor, including acting on one’s values.

10. Being able to see the big picture

This factor is often closely aligned with #7 and #5. Optimists in general are better able to see the bigger picture than pessimists. They are more likely to see good and bad events occurring in their life being temporary rather than permanent. This, too, will pass. They are also more likely to see events as having a specific impact on certain areas of their life rather than having a pervasive impact on their entire life or their future. Last of all, they are less likely to blame themselves or someone else for the hard times. Optimists avoid the blame game. They hold themselves and others accountable without the emotional dose of blame. This is essential for resilience in leadership.

11. Learn from your mistakes or failures 

None of us are perfect, and making mistakes are how we learn. So if something didn’t work out, then learn from it, and move on. That’s real resilience right there.

12. Choose your response and perspective

As per the quote by Charles R Swindoll, “Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react to it.” The Win Learn Change coaching strategy will help you with this.

13. Being able to appreciate and use humour appropriately 

Whether humour is ‘sick’ or ‘dark’ often depends on the setting. Laughter may have healing powers. For example, if you’re not feeling well, watch a funny movie.

14. Being able to take care of yourself 

This involves paying attention to your diet, exercise, financial health, and so on. First responders and health care professionals are often major offenders in neglecting area. They often assume that the rules do not apply to them, but they do. Make a SMART Plan for exercise. 

15. Learning to relax 

Being busy is all well and good, but it’s not healthy or balanced to be busy the whole time. Meditation and yoga are great for learning to relax.

16. Being able to care for others physically and emotionally  

Occupations and volunteer activities that involve caring for others can often build resilience, by volunteering in a shelter or a food bank, for instance.

Imagine the scenarios this resilience in leadership would help you with

Being more resilient as a leader means both you and your team will enjoy better outcomes in:

  •  Team meetings.
  •  One-on-ones.
  • Working with other teams or departments, who may have conflicting goals.
  •  Customer negotiations and meetings.
  • Supplier negotiations and meetings.
  • Your home life, including communicating with your spouse and children.


Leadership is all about self-awareness, strategy, and growing people. Resilience is a learned skill and there are many ways in which you can nurture this, by taking care and stretching both your physical self as well as your mind.