Examine the life stories of real leaders and you’ll be startled to see how often they have been written off in bad times of trouble. The real leader understands that winning and losing are not the crucial test of leadership. As every world-class athlete knows, the contender who wins today is likely to lose tomorrow, and vice versa. The crucial issue is how resilient you are—how ready you are to bounce back from defeat with renewed energy and resolve. Tested by adversity, either personal or professional, a leader is prepared to withstand future challenges with authenticity, grace, humility, strength, and endurance. And in times of triumph, a leader is wise enough to avoid excessive celebration, which may lead to a state of euphoria and the illusions that go with it.
When the world seems to be collapsing around you, it’s easy to give in to despair—to panic, break down, become filled with anger, or blame those around you. A resilient leader resists this temptation. She controls her emotions, communicating optimism even when the clouds above are darkest—because she knows that the emotions of the leader are contagious and will quickly spread to the entire organization.
The strength of the leader has a way of permeating the entire organization. When the leader is resilient, so is the organization. It is this balance of character, this so-called temperament that distinguishes those who exercise true leadership from those who merely exercise authority.
Of course, resilience is not just a matter of temperament. It also requires the leader to be a steady hand and exercises good judgment in tough times and turmoil. When we face setbacks, we look to the leader for answers–—a safe passage out of the storm. The leader is someone who is expected to steer the organization and his people through rough terrain into greener pasture.
In the book, I have shared the story of my friend Maha Al-Ghunaim, who is one of the most successful Arab women in an industry that has relatively few notable female leaders, in the Middle East or anywhere else in the world—financial management. Until our next blog where I will speak on ‘Committed to Excellence in Execution’, please share with me your comments as I look forward to our discussions.
Hussein A. Al-Banawi
Author, The Unknown Leader