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Thought Leadership

The downside of resilient leadership

May 20, 2020

Self-sufficiency is a prized trait among executives, especially during times of crisis such as the COVID-19 pandemic. But it has drawbacks, too.

The character and culture of companies is revealed in crises. And the same is true of people. As leaders struggle to navigate the impacts of the novel coronavirus pandemic on their business, they are discovering which members of their teams rise to the new challenges and which are overwhelmed. Often there are surprises: The people they expected to step up may become rattled, and others who had operated in the background are finding their leadership voice.

COVID-19 is testing our resilience, and for all that has been studied and written about that quality, it still has an air of mystery about it. Why can some people, when knocked down by life, get up off the mat, while others stay down? Given how important it is to work through challenges in this world of endless disruptions — even in the absence of a global crisis like COVID-19 — resilience is one of the key qualities that companies look for when hiring.

Where does resilience come from? It’s a muscle that can be developed early on through a strong family life or a mentor relationship, or from positive experiences that help ready children and young adults for life’s tests in later years.

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The ExCo Group’s Adam Bryant wrote this article for his column in Strategy + Business. It was originally published here.