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Resilient Leadership
A new framework for success

Written & Contributed by Jay Worthy


How many times do we see leaders thrust into the spotlight, leading a team or an organisation with minimal preparation or guidance?  The expectations are instant and if results are not promptly delivered, questions begin to be asked.  Public office, professional sports, military, or business - when a leader steps up, we instantly expect greatness.
Often when the results don’t come quickly or, in other cases, stop after a period of success – decision makers can be quick to make a change.  What is fascinating is that we rarely see those decision makers stepping back, taking stock and time to ponder one simple but critical question.....



‘’What changed?’’


Consider high profile roles like football management.  When a new team manager is appointed, the expectations from fans and the club owner are sky high; likely driven by demonstrable prior success.  Now consider that performances on the pitch start to drop and the team begins to slide down the league table.  It’s a tale we have seen play out in the media time and time again and the ending is always the same.  The manager is swiftly replaced, and the cycle begins again.  What is it Einstein said about insanity?  Something about doing the same thing again and again and, well, you know the rest.


Now let’s imagine a different outcome for the same scenario.  One where the owner and their support staff take time to truly reflect on that key question; the most foundational of them all.  What changed?  Forcing themselves to acknowledge that at some prior point in time they were energised and excited by this new hire, full of hope and expectation.  Perhaps even consulting with the manager in question to understand where things may be going wrong and working together to build trust, support, and joint purpose.  Idealistic nonsense I hear you cry?  Maybe.  But then again, maybe not.


After more than 20 years leading businesses around the world from start-ups to $1 billion global manufacturers, I have witnessed these cycles time after time.  As I have reflected on those leadership experiences, I have brought into focus my own concept of Resilient Leadership – a new paradigm where we consider leadership as a symbiotic system with four inextricably linked quadrants.


The thesis for this framework is simple – when leaders lack balance in one of these quadrants, they often begin to fail.  

Resilient leaders have a clear sense of PURPOSE – they know why they are showing up.  They have a deep connection with their personal ‘’WHY’’ and it drives their daily behaviour and decision making in a way that a job title alone is unable to.  When we have a purpose – we have a direction to move!


As things get increasingly difficult, often there is a de-prioritisation of personal health standards.  How often have you seen a leader under pressure in the public eye looking increasingly exhausted and burned out?  When leaders prioritise their HEALTH, they set standards in the organisation.  They create psychological safety for their teams when they are more rested and demonstrate to others how prioritising health leads to more consistent high performance.


Resilient leaders are masters of TRANSMISSION – they know instinctively that communication is the key to success and togetherness.  Much of leadership is out of our control, but we always retain the power to share, to bring others along on the journey and let them understand the highs and lows as we do.  Sharing insights and always reconnecting to the purpose, mission and vision builds trust, belief and unity.


Leadership is a lonely and isolating experience and leaders can frequently find themselves pondering over the performance of their organisation and scenario planning ad infinitum.  Strong leaders are always considering the possible outcomes, assessing risk, and making decisions.  Resilient leaders, though, have PRESENCE and recognise that retreating from the organisation into a strategic bunker is a sure-fire way to create space for closed door conversations which will sap the energy from any organisation.  By being present and drawing that discourse out of closed offices and across the board room table, resilient leaders encourage safe debate and real time problem solving.  


This simple model is a useful way for leaders in any field to check in with themselves at any moment, asking themselves ‘’How do I index on each of these critical areas’ – if they find themselves under-indexing versus their normal baseline in any one of those areas, it’s likely that the answers to many of their challenges lay in that area.


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