INSIGHTS (on leadership/self-leadership)
Few things are more important for happiness and success than the ability to bounce back from setbacks. Good news is there’s a science to doing so. Research from the Dean of the School of Medicine at Mount Sinai offers several methods for actually retraining your brain to be more resilient.
1. Develop a core set of beliefs that nothing can shake.
I call this “finding your anchor.” When facing major setbacks, you can feel untethered, like you’re drifting in the wind far from any sense of certainty. It’s important in these times to reground yourself to something that won’t change – your most closely held, non-negotiable values. By doing this you keep yourself tethered to what really matters and effectively re-frame the pain of any setback you’re recovering from.
2. Find meaning in the stressful event.
Whether it’s a setback at work, a personal tragedy, or any stressful trigger you’re working through, consider that it’s happening for you, not to you.
I was convinced my first book, after 13 “no’s” from publishers, would never happen. I had put five years into writing it, it was a traumatic thing for me. I finally got a “yes” on my agent’s last try. I realized that all that pain happened for me to make me a better writer and to be better able to handle future adversity, not to me to devastate me.
3. Recognize and foster your signature strengths.
We all have super-strengths. Be cognizant of what yours are and engage them in times of adversity to deal with difficult and stressful situations. Think of such strengths as your armor – keep it polished so you can wear it to make you feel even stronger and to protect you from further injury.
Bonus thought. Super-resilient people are 6 times more likely to believe this:
IMPERFECTIONS (a mistake many make)
It happens all too often. Star-performers suddenly announce they’re leaving, while a host of surprised managers assemble, like the Avengers, to collectively convince the high-performer to stay.
But it’s too late.
A preventative strategy is required. CEO thoughtleader, Roger Martin, suggests three strategies for showing loyalty-inducing appreciation for your star-employees.
1. Never dismiss their ideas.
No one says you have to act on everything your stars suggest. But remember, high-performers are typically stretching boundaries and thinking big in often unconventional ways. Much of their energy can lead to breakthroughs. At a minimum, hearing out their process of inquiry and discovery is a must for helping them to feel like, well, they’re being heard.
2. Never block their development.
Sure, you can’t always promote your stars at the rate you’d like to given organizational processes and “the way things are done around here.” But if they’re your most valued employees, you should push against convention. Fight hard for them to rise to the level of their potential, ahead of lesser performers. At a minimum, it’s critical to have a personal growth and development plan that you discuss with them, filled with alternatives to just counting on promotions (like their attendance at industry conferences, special projects that stretch their abilities, etc.)
3. Never pass up the chance to praise them.
Many managers believe that the stars are intrinsically motivated (true) and accordingly, they don’t need much external validation (not true). As Martin says, “Extraordinary people spend their time doing really hard things. They have to regularly flirt with, and actually experience, failure. For that reason alone they need recognition. Otherwise they become resentful and drift away from the organization.”
I’ve also found the highest performers are often the most secretly insecure – it’s that insecurity that drives them so hard to succeed – and yet another reason they need plenty of praise.
IMPLEMENTATION (one research-backed strategy, tip, or tool)
“The function of leadership is to produce more leaders, not more followers.”
– Ralph Nader
In other words, you have the ability to encourage those around you to discover and develop their own leadership style. Enabling them, and then getting out of their way, is in order. Here are four effective ways to do so.
1. Crush barriers with glee.
Sure, your people must learn to overcome obstacles on their own. I’m talking here about joyfully clearing the unnecessary debris that lay on the tracks of progress in front of them, like dumb policies, cantankerous co-workers putting up blockades, and so on.
2. See around corners.
Spend time anticipating issues and problems on their behalf. Let your coachees in on the issue you seeing coming down the pike so they can be a part of hammering out preventative solutions.
3. Give and define decision-making space.
Gift you people with a crystal-clear decision-making process that’s rich with opportunities for them to make the call.
4. “Ring fence” in times of duress.
Ever notice how you get a lot of “help” from upper management in times of adversity? It’s important to serve as a filter – take the best of the well-meaning “help” being offered, while shielding your people from having to deal with distracting, nonsensical requests and inquiries during a time they’re trying to focus on persevering.