How Resilient Is Your Leadership?

“The oak fought the wind and was broken, the willow bent when it must and survived.”  -Robert Jordan

Challenges.  Crisis.  Adversity.  Setbacks.  Stress.  Pressure.  Pushback.  Mistakes.  Failures.

What leaders are bound to face on a daily basis…

Belief.  Hope.  Vision.  Confidence.  Tenacity.  Purpose.  Trust.  Determination.  Drive.

What leaders must instill in those they lead on a daily basis…

We can often get buried under the weight and responsibility that accompanies leading and leadership.  Oftentimes, a minor miscalculation or a poor decision has served as the undoing of many a leader…from which many never recover.  Which leads to one of the most important leadership traits of all…


Resilience is a leadership necessity.  Whether you consider it a growth mindset or having emotional intelligence, resilience serves as a major factor in either equation. Without the capacity for resilience, many a “leader-ship” has been sunk, never to rise again.

A wonderful representation of leadership resilience can be found in the modern day fable of “The Donkey in the Well“, which a portion of is provided below…

“One day a farmer’s donkey fell into a deep well.  The animal cried pitifully for hours as the farmer tried to figure our what to do.  Finally the farmer made a decision: The animal was old, and the well needed to be filled anyway.  It just wasn’t worth trying to retrieve the donkey.

He invited all of his neighbors to come over and help him.  They all grabbed a shovel and began to shovel dirt into the well.  At first, the donkey realized what was happening and cried horribly.

Then to everyone’s amazement, he quieted down.  A few shovel loads later, the farmer finally looked down the well.  He was astonished at what he saw.  With each shovel of dirt that hit his back, the donkey was doing something amazing.  He would shake it off and take a step up.

As the farmer’s neighbors continued to shovel dirt on top of the animal he would shake it off and take a step up.  Pretty soon, everyone was amazed as the donkey stepped up over the edge of the well and happily trotted off!”

(portion of the story above taken from

As leaders we often have two choices…we can allow the “dirt thrown on our back” to either bury us or serve as opportunities to “shake it off” and create next steps.  Leadership resilience is all about “shaking it off” as stepping stones to propel us forward…using our mistakes and failures as growth experiences to mold and shape us.  And when we demonstrate resilience we cultivate that same trait and attitude across the organization with those we lead.  Which requires us to consider…

How resilient is our leadership?

“Stars may be seen from the bottom of a deep well, when they cannot be discerned from the top of a mountain.  So are many things learned in adversity which the prosperous man dreams not of.”  -Charles Spurgeon


2 thoughts on “How Resilient Is Your Leadership?

  1. Thanks for this post. I had a bit of a tough week as a leader this week but am resolved not to let it keep me down. Mistakes and failures happen in the growth process. Learning from them is the key…and not dwelling on them!

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