Leadership: Could Resilience Be a Business Liability?

April 3, 2019 1:18 pm

We know about fighting spirit, and coming back from adversity. We prize people’s ability to bounce back from disaster or whatever bruising encounter they have had.

Resilience is an essential leadership quality, because in business, as in life, you will encounter difficulties and obstacles, and you won’t always overcome them.

Coming back from not winning is, therefore, extremely valuable as leadership mindset.  But could resilience also be a source of problems, rather than a means of coping with them?


Resilience and Negotiations

The state of global politics can come down to negotiations and how people relate to each other. It can be simply about two people in a room.

But what if one of those people had taken their own resilience beyond its recognisable limits, so that instead of helping them, it was hindering their ability to negotiate?

This is the flipside of resiliency, where instead of offering a way forward it leads to a dead-end.

How can this happen?


Why is Resilience Risky?

Imagine a bodybuilder developing their muscle mass. Yes, they can end up with an impressively sculpted physique, but if they take things to extremes, if they build up too much muscle mass, they risk damaging their heart.

Likewise with resiliency, if you take its mindset to extremes, it can mean that you no longer see objectives realistically, and that you develop a sort of addiction to hardship, that you not only tolerate it, but look for it in how you work.

Obviously, this is bad for the individual, but it can also be bad for organisations as a whole.


When resilience goes wrong, if affects people’s ability to lead, because they are chasing impossible objectives, stubbornly refusing to budge, or to take useful advice from others


Resilience, when it is like this, can be very isolating for leaders. Worse still, this then feeds on itself: the more isolated and exposed they are, the more they feel they are backed into a corner, and the more their sense of resiliency continues to govern them.

It can lead to stubbornness, or even belligerence.


Getting the Measure of Resilience

Resilience is a valuable quality.  But you must work on it. Just as you need to develop it in the first place, so you must then continue to hone it, refine it and manage it.

Without getting the true measure of your resilience, you may risk letting it get the measure of you instead, reducing your options but making you stubbornly stick to a course of action which leads nowhere or, worse, to disaster.


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Mark Cushway is the CEO of the Inspired Group of companies and is passionate about employee welfare, engagement and motivation. Connect with Mark on Twitter and LinkedIn. This blog post is also available as a podcast on iTunes and Soundcloud.