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Leadership and followership
Leadership and followership

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5.3 Lack of resilience

Resilience has become a buzzword in recent times, referring to an individual’s ability to ‘bounce back’ from difficult and challenging situations. In his report ‘The resilient leader: Debunking the myths and growing your capabilities’, Lock (n.d.) describes resilience as:

  • remaining vulnerable enough to feel for and with others
  • becoming strong enough to live with uncertainty and ambiguity
  • learning to grow, not crumble through adversity.

Lucy, Poorkavoos and Thompson (2014, p. 9) outline the five key factors that make for a resilient leader in their Resilience Capabilities model. They include a series of questions that are extremely useful to reflect on:


  • Are you able to positively reframe negative experiences and find opportunity in adversity?
  • Are you able to accept what you cannot change, and focus your efforts on those things you can?
  • Are you solution-driven or do you tend to get stuck in the problem?
  • Are you able to face fully negative information whilst not dwelling on it?

Emotional intelligence

  • Do you acknowledge your own feelings and express them appropriately?
  • Are you able to change your mood when you need to?
  • How intentional are you about providing support to others?

Purpose, values and strengths

  • Do you have a clear sense of purpose at work?
  • Do you have a clear sense of your personal strengths and make the opportunity to use them regularly in your work?
  • Do you have a clear sense of your own values and act in a way consistent with those values?
  • Does your work fit well with your personal values and beliefs?


  • Do you have a strong and reliable network of colleagues inside and outside of work that will help you through difficult times?
  • Are you able to meet your varied needs through a diverse support network?

Managing physical energy

  • Do you make time to exercise regularly?
  • Do you get enough sleep?
  • Do you make sure you eat a healthy diet?
  • Do you make time in your schedule for the pursuit of activities that give you joy and/or help you relax?

Managing physical energy, or taking care of yourself, is a key element of resilience that is often overlooked. How can you grow and lead your team through adversity if you’re tired, unhealthy and stressed?

Throughout this week, you’ve considered the impact of poor leadership on followers and next week you’ll look at the leader–follower relationship in more detail.