Home Concepts Concepts of Leadership Resilience Does Not Equal Great Leadership: The Three Choices that Will Forge True and Lasting Resilience

Resilience Does Not Equal Great Leadership: The Three Choices that Will Forge True and Lasting Resilience

14 min read


Maribel P. Aleman, Aleman & Associates and John B. Lazar, John B. Lazar & Associates

© Copyright 2020 Maribel P. Aleman and John B. Lazar. All rights reserved worldwide.

It was a bit of a shock.

After 12 years of increasingly high-profile leadership positions, Jay felt confident he was the best candidate for the CEO chair.  He had survived steep financial downturns and pivoted his divisions so they could ride out their shrinking market share to a model with more savvy and greater prospects for sustainability.

He was a survivor, but he was not going to be CEO.

Jay’s story’s is one we often see played out.  A resilient leader who bounces back after each fall, only to hit a promotional wall.  Why is that?

Looking at his 360 feedback, Jay recognized a troubling pattern.  Although he had frequently saved the day and bounced back, he had done it at the expense of his team’s and partners’ trust and good will. He never really thought about what that really meant and the negative impact he was creating.  His survival was dependent on draconian measures that hurt others in the name of short-term gain.  Jay was not seen as an effective leader who could engage his people and shepherd the organization into the 21st century.  Rather, his reputation was that of a volatile and punishing executive who only cared about his survival, his success.


Jay is an example of how we, as leaders, may blur the lines between resilience and effective leadership.  Many of us have seen and experienced how resilience is critical when we are in a triage situation – where the need is to survive and at least get to the next moment.  It is relevant when we are in a transition phase – when we are learning from a setback and figuring out what’s next.  Resilience is also a tool for the future, one that helps us transform using adversity as a springboard to create something new.  In short, resilience allows us to recover – independently of how effective or strong is our leadership.  Jay bounced back, consistent with the leader that he was, not the leader that was needed.

Rather than equating resilience with effective leadership, we can see it for what it is: a capability (set of skills) that builds agility and allows us the choice to up our game, challenge our growth and create a wider impact. If we are to embody resilience and increase our leadership effectiveness, we first need to build our capacity and capability for self-leadership.

How do we actually do this?  How can we embody resilience and increase our leadership effectiveness through self-leadership?  Is that even possible?

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