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Monday, March 1, 2021

Art & Culture

The Five Resilience Indicators That Unlock Discretionary Effort

Brian Sands

To be a leader in todays’ business environment, you need an ability to set strategy, to show empathy and to make decisions. In fact, leadership is a strategy in itself, an enabler, a how. It’s about co-creation not domination, and it originates with a mindset.

In any position of responsibility, a big part of your role and your success in it relies upon your ability to influence people, opinions and outcomes so as to inspire others.

Putting On Your Game Face

There is no doubt that when dealing with a crisis of any scale keeping our thoughts and behaviours in check may be as difficult as dealing with the risk itself. All of a sudden, we are dealing outside of business as usual where change can be emotionally intense collecting with it confusion, fear, anxiety, frustration, and helplessness.

As a Leader looking to extract discretionary effort from your people, it is all about how you ‘show up’.

And whilst considering the flipside of this perspective from a position of leadership, how do we deal with our people’s reaction to organisational change, the rolling eyes, the “here we go again” and “haven’t we tried this before” innuendo.

The extraordinary health and economic impact through Covid-19 has been the ultimate test for leaders needing to display the behaviours that they need their group or team to emulate.

We need to be adaptable rather than resistant, accepting rather than emotional, accountable rather than accusing, and positive rather than negative. In very simple terms it is leading by example.

An Emotionally Intelligent Culture

Whilst the above behavioural traits will not satisfy the emotional intelligence academics, they do capture the four main constructs of self-awareness, self-management, social awareness and relationship management.

The challenge in any organisational setting is that in spite of the widespread use of the term emotional intelligence how many of us really and truly know what it is, and or can demonstrate it sustainably?

One of the tests of emotional intelligence is that it is usually labelled as an individual competency, when the reality is that most work that is conducted inside organizations is done by a collaboration of people. A business with a couple of emotionally intelligent, or let’s say people with an appropriate leadership ‘balance’, will not guarantee an emotionally intelligent business.

To optimise and maximise, a team must create emotionally intelligent benchmarks – the attitudes and behaviours that over time form habits that build trust, group identity, and group efficacy. The outcome is alignment and engagement.

Unlocking Discretionary Efforts

Groups will be most effective when collaboration is unconditional. People stop holding back when there is mutual trust and respectful interactions.

Emotionally competent teams will have the capacity to face difficult information and will actively seek constructive advice on the basis that these external opinions are the foundation of thinking and doing differently, and or better.

And so it is that group success will originate from the leadership of that group.

There is something incredibly sustainable about leaders that own mistakes yet keep facing forward motivating us to achieve bigger and better things as a group, as opposed to what we could ever achieve on our own.

There is no doubt that succeeding in unlocking discretionary effort in any environment is enabled initially by these 5 Resilient Leadership Behaviours:

  1. Focus.
    Being prepared to engage people with the right attitude and skill, not simply skill alone. Looking at the bigger picture of ‘what if’ and ‘what next’ rather than ‘what is.’
  2. Compassion.
    Connecting with each person individually and regularly, from both a personal and organisational perspective. This is the polar opposite of lip service!
  3. Empathy.
    Authentic individual and group rapport, building a critical mass of momentum and a reservoir of goodwill. Usually founded on shared experiences, developed through learning and enhanced through recognition.
  4. Messaging.
    A collective of ‘we can do this’ and ‘I’ve got your back’ distributes subtle empowerment for mutual successes. This is the where discretionary effort can become second nature.
  5. Commitment.
    Remaining present and accountable all the way through, being a leader every single day. It’s ok to have an ‘off-day’ and owning that, and telling someone that, allows you to get through it a lot quicker with a lot more respect.

From a personal perspective, we know that we can learn to change our mindset and therefore we can learn to adapt our leadership style.

Businesses adapt because people adapt.


Written by Brian Sands.

Brian Sands
Brian Sands is a strategy advisor and interim executive. As an advisor to Boards and Executive teams designing strategy, implementing change and developing people his insights originate through managing large-scale, high-risk, low-margin construction and property businesses. He is also the author of Stop The Bleeding – A Mind Shift Through Business Crisis Management... Thinking and Doing Everything Differently. Brian Sands is an opinion columnist for the CEOWORLD magazine. Follow him on LinkedIn.
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