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In the often choppy (and sometimes downright stormy) waters of leadership, resilience and steadiness are like a ship’s anchor, keeping leaders grounded amid storms. Ronald Heifetz and Marty Linsky, in their highly influential book “Leadership on the Line,” emphasise the importance of these traits for effective leadership. This article delves into the essence of resilience and steadiness in leadership and suggests some strategies and practical tips to help cultivate these qualities.

The Role of Resilience in Leadership

Resilience in leadership is not just about bouncing back from setbacks; it’s about learning, adapting, and thriving amidst challenges. As John Maxwell aptly puts it, “The pessimist complains about the wind. The optimist expects it to change. The leader adjusts the sails.” Having this mindset and making this adjustment is the crux of resilience.

Steadiness: The Companion of Resilience

Steadiness in leadership is about maintaining composure, clarity, and consistent performance under pressure. It’s about being the calm in the chaos, the steady hand guiding the ship. As Heifetz and Linsky assert, leaders must “hold steady” in the face of adversity, providing direction and assurance to their teams.  As Peter Drucker said, “Effective leadership is not about making speeches or being liked; leadership is defined by results, not attributes.”

Strategies for Remaining Focused and Calm Under Pressure

· Embracing a Growth Mindset: Cultivating a growth mindset, as Carol Dweck suggests, helps leaders view challenges as opportunities to learn rather than insurmountable obstacles.

· Prioritising Self-Care: Leaders cannot pour from an empty cup. Prioritising physical and mental health is essential for maintaining focus and composure.

·      Developing Emotional Intelligence: Daniel Goleman’s concept of emotional intelligence highlights the importance of self-awareness and self-regulation in managing stress and making rational decisions under pressure.

Practical Tips for Building Resilience

· Reflective Practice: Regular reflection on past experiences, both successes and failures, can provide valuable insights and strengthen resilience.  I have personally found this hugely beneficial as well as talking these through with a coach.

· Seeking Support and Feedback: Building a support network and seeking regular feedback helps in gaining perspective and overcoming blind spots.  Having a small, trusted support network, inside and outside your business is essential and make sure that they are all able to “speak truth to power”.

· Continuous Learning: Commit to lifelong learning. Stay updated with the latest in your field and be open to new ideas and approaches.

· Cultivating Mindful Grace: Cultivating mindful grace allows us to face difficulties with composure and resilience. It’s about taking a moment to breathe, reflect, and approach problems with a clear, focused mind. This practice not only benefits us but also sets a positive example for our peers.

Further Reading on Leadership Resilience – Simon Sinek’s work on ‘The Infinite Game’ offers perspectives on long-term thinking in leadership, a key component of resilience.


Resilience and steadiness in leadership are not innate traits but skills that can be developed and honed. They are essential for navigating the complexities and uncertainties of the modern world. As leaders, embracing these qualities is not just beneficial for personal growth but imperative for the success and well-being of our teams and organisations.  “The greatest glory in living lies not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall.” (Nelson Mandela)

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