I’ve been writing about this in recent posts. What I’ve found is that resilient leadership has three components, according to Ryan Holiday, in his book, The Obstacle Is the Way: The Timeless Art of Turning Trials into Triumphs (Portfolio/Penguin, 2014): the right mindset, a motivated action plan, and inner will—what I call the “X” factor.
This “X” factor inspires others to apply themselves as well. The most resilient leaders encourage others, and reinforce that the things most worth doing are difficult; difficult things take time. They prompt everyone to be determined not to give in or give up. This is the “X” factor.
HP’s purchase into touch screen consumer products offered them a solid opportunity amongst the top competitors. But underdeveloped hardware, software and relationships with carriers caused the walls to close in. After spending billions of dollars, the strategy was abandoned just months after launch, instead of pressing forward with the will to overcome. Their prospects for tablets and smartphones vaporized, as the market for them soared.
A strong “X” factor requires wisdom and discernment. Solutions need to be weighed to minimize the chance of bad surprises. Resilient leaders oversee the planning of alternate routes, just in case. They anticipate what can go wrong, accept the outcomes that can’t be controlled, and maneuver toward the ones that can.
Leaders who can stand up to stiff opposition, whether circumstances or people, will forge a strength in their staff, and inspire them to respond boldly. Unity builds a force more powerful than that which comes from the same number of individuals.
The tragedy is not that things go wrong or crises knock you down. The tragedy is that when a leader doesn’t have the skills or the will to take their organization through the trial, they miss the opportunity to learn from it, and grow because of it.