Leading With Resilience Part Three (of Three)

Leading with Resilience Part Three

This week, we complete our Leading with Resilience series with four of our higher level leading truths. Leading with resilience approaches leadership from a stress/control perspective, using emotional control, critical thinking, and living in the present moment to become a better leader. The two previous weeks dealt with lower level functions, such as taking care of your people and making sure you do the little things before talking bigger things. This week, we examine higher level functions and briefly explore in more detail the “why” of leadership. Defining purpose in leadership is very important, because followers need to know why they are doing what they are doing in order to execute with more passion and less chances for errors. By leading with resilience, you not only become a more mindful leader, but you effectively pass on this mindfulness to your followers by more clearly defining what it is that you are trying to accomplish.

Defining Context

Context is an important aspect to leadership. The context is the “what” of the task or mission that you are trying to accomplish. This needs to be clearly defined for both you as the leader and for your followers. The reason is that everyone needs to know exactly what to do before they set out on a task or mission. You can see context at work before a shift on an oil rig. Meticulous explanation of what has gone on for the past 12 hours and what is planned for the next 12 hours always takes place during a pre-tower briefing. Millions of dollars and lives are at stake. Defining context here is paramount. And so it must be for your own business. Clearly defining what you need to do, along with the definitions of what success looks like, should be the goal of every leader. When you define success and visualize it, both your followers and you are more likely to achieve it. Leading with resilience requires defining context.

Defining Purpose

Defining purpose, or what we call in the military “commander’s intent” is letting everyone know why you are doing what you are doing. Defining the why of a mission brings a deeper understanding and helps to justify the inevitable sacrifices of time and energy that every mission or task brings with it. Linked to a workers motivation, defining the why of any project helps workers to better understand the reasons behind what it is that they are doing. Defining purpose is an inclusive way to earn the trust of your people and help them to see what you are seeing as the leader. Defining the purpose of any task also helps to define what are the critical, enhancing, and supporting factors that will contribute to mission success. Clearly defining the why of any project will help you to organize and prioritize the resources that you need to accomplish the mission more effectively. The next time you go to work, write down why you are there in a clear and concise statement. Try and transcend the monetary reasoning and expand your thought process into higher level reasoning. Read this purpose statement periodically throughout the day and take a mental note of how you feel at the end of your workday. To lead with resilience, you must define purpose.

Leading Your Way Out of a Job

Nobody is indispensable. People may want to think that they are, but they are not. Leading with resilience requires you to pass on what you have learned as a leader to your subordinates so that, one day, they can take over your job. It is your duty as a leader to lead yourself out of a job. This may sound like career suicide, but it is the opposite. A leader must always remember and understand that the overall success of the company or organization depends on the leader training individuals that will someday step up and replace the leader. It is the inevitable cycle that we all must live by. Some leaders refuse to accept this and actually may even stifle the progress of their subordinates, either consciously or subconsciously. If you want to lead with resilience, you need to lead your way out of your job.

Leading with Empathy

A key component in leading with resilience it empathy. Empathy simply means a deeper level of understanding of another person by stepping into their shoes. Often confused with sympathy, empathy works both for you as the leader and for your subordinates. They key to becoming a superior leader is self knowledge. Self Empathy is a key component in understanding your own inner feelings and emotions. When you understand yourself better, you can make more informed decisions that are free of emotion and are backed up by critical thinking. The same holds true for others. When you understand what others are going through and empathize with them, you are more likely to make a decision that will be tailored to achieve the highest degree of acceptance by that person. When you take the time to understand your followers individually, your decisions will have a greater chance of being accepted and executed willingly instead of by force. If you want to lead with resilience, you need to lead with empathy.


Being a leader is not easy. It takes constant introspection and situational awareness or people and events. Leaders are made not born. Following the leading with resilience principles will make you a better leader, but only if you practice these principles in real life, leadership situations. You can practice these principles with anyone, even by yourself. Whether you are taking care of yourself physically, organizing your house during the day, or helping someone in the store that needs your help, you are putting the principles of leading with resilience into action. All too often, we read an interesting book or article and never put the principles that we learn into action. This week, I want you to review all of the leading with resilience principles that you have learned over the past three weeks and put one of them into practice for the next 12 days. Write down each one as you progress through the days. Here is the summary of the 12 Leading with Resilience principles:

  1. The Little Things Are The Big Things

  2. Take Care of Your People, and they will Take Care of You

  3. Take Care of Yourself, But Only To Improve Your Ability to Take Care of Your People

  4. Lead By Example

  5. Get Creative

  6. Never Quit/Know When to Quit

  7. Leading with Self Awareness

  8. Leading with Attitude

  9. Defining Context

  10. Defining Purpose

  11. Leading Your Way Out of a Job

  12. Leading with Empathy

Finally, if you want to Lead with Resilience, remember to “Lean into it!”

Dr. N