Resilient Leadership: Awareness

The second key element for a Resilient Leader is Awareness: Having an awareness of our own and others' motives, attitudes, strengths and weaknesses.

In my sporting career I learnt just how important this was at every race when the noisy voice of doubt consumed my thoughts. I can recall one particular racing season when I had emerged from a great winter training period and was ready to compete.

The previous year I had finished second on a sprint finish at the World Championships, losing by just 0.4 seconds.  I arrived at the first race of the year, the doubts crept in and prompted a pesky little voice in my head saying, “Everyone is expecting you to win this time, but what if you don’t? What if you’re still not quick enough on that sprint finish?”

I’m sure everyone has moments with that nagging little voice, perhaps before an important meeting or presentation.  Whilst these doubts are quite normal, they are not helpful. So how do you deal with it?

Awareness of Strengths

This is where having an awareness of your strengths plays a crucial role.  In that moment in order to quieten the voice of doubt I focused on my strengths, I reminded myself of the improvements I had made on my time trials, the strength gains in the gym and the resulting increase in power and speed on the water.

My strengths reminded me that I was in fantastic shape and the doubts were unfounded. If I didn’t know my strengths I’d be sitting on the start line of the race focused on my weaknesses, which would make my confidence fragile and my chances of performing at my best rather slim.

Whenever I work with clients to identify their strengths, we always see a huge improvement in confidence. They are able to turn up to a client meeting or deliver an important presentation having absolute confidence in their contribution and the value they are bringing.

When the pressure rises, knowing what you’ve got in your locker will give you the resilience and confidence that you can cope with the situation and that you have the resources within you to deliver in the face of pressure.

Pressure to Stress

In addition to that, both my team and I had an awareness of what took me from pressure to stress. In those days before a race I became adept at recognising when that voice of doubt was popping up too regularly and the negative thinking was taking over and I was going from relishing the pressure to feeling stressed about the challenge ahead. It was an alarm bell that warned me that unless I did something about it, it would destroy my performance.

My team were able to spot the warning signs, they would notice my energy and body language changing and the doubt could be heard in my communication.

Having the awareness that it’s happening is the first and most important step, because you can’t do anything about it until you notice it. In the face of the current challenging times, it couldn’t be more crucial to dial up your awareness of yourself and others in your team and understand what takes you and them from pressure to stress and what action is needed to rebalance.

To summarise, as a leader when you have awareness of self, others and the environment this is the impact:

 ‘Everyone including you works at their best, resulting in higher productivity and motivation. Diversity is appreciated and used to the benefit of all.’

If you would like to understand more about your own strengths and areas of development in relation to the 4 elements, I encourage you to take this free RLE lite assessment.

For more information on this subject and our Resilient Leader’s open programme, please visit The Resilient Leader’s Toolkit | Beyond the Barriers or get in touch.

Published: Monday 25 January 2021
Written by: Anna Hemmings, OLY, MBE.