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Being a Resilient Leader

Resilient or resilience are buzzwords that we hear about in education. The two words are thrown around like leaves in the wind, especially during a pandemic. People ask school administrators if they are resilient or do they possess resilience. Indeed most people answer in the affirmative; however, do they know what resilience entails being. So, we ask the question, what does being a resilient leader mean to you? 

First, let’s define what resilience is.  According to APA, “Psychologists define resilience as the process of adapting well in the face of adversity, trauma, tragedy, threats, or significant sources of stress—such as family and relationship problems, serious health problems, or workplace and financial stressors.” How can you determine if you are a resilient leader when there are many working pieces?  

Difficult Times and Hard Decisions

As a school leader, you are faced with and must adapt well to many situations throughout the school year. Even a typical school day can present a variety of circumstances for you to handle.

Next, why is it essential to possess resilience? Throughout your personal and professional lives, you are going to face difficult times, hard decisions, and more. Resilience gives you the emotional strength to cope with trauma, adversity, and hardship. Resiliency utilizes your resources, stability, and skills to overcome challenges and to work through challenges. 

You may be asking yourself, “How do I know if I am resilient enough? Honestly, no one knows if they are hardy enough to handle some difficult situations, including school leaders. You do not always know how to react to adversity until it happens. However, you can find out more about your level of resiliency by taking a quiz. Click on the link, answer the questions, and find your results.

School leaders handle daily difficult decisions.

Resiliency is Complex

Resiliency is not a simple concept. It has many components, and it is complex and personal. Resiliency has no universal fit, and everyone is different regarding one’s inner strength and outer resources. Let’s look at the examples of resilience, the Seven C’s, and the protective factors of resilience. After reviewing the information, let it marinate and determine where you fit.

Examples of Resilience

There are three examples of resilience: physical, emotional, and community. Take a look at what each represents.

Physical resilience is your body’s ability to withstand challenges and maintain the stamina needed to push through difficult situations. It includes your body’s ability to recover and recuperate from injuries, illnesses, accidents, or exhausting physical demands.

Emotional Resilience asks how do you personally cope when a crisis or a significant change in your life happens? Emotional resilience is how well you handle or adjust to stressful situations and adversity. An emotionally resilient person can assess the situation and pull from their resources to push through the issue. 

Community and Psychological Resilience

Community resilience is the ability of groups of people to respond to and recover from adverse situations. A community may deal with a natural disaster, violence, a public health crisis, or a lack of economic resources. How community members respond to adverse situations or bounce back is a part of their resilience.

Psychological resilience is about one’s ability to mentally adapt to a difficult change or situation of one’s circumstances. A psychologically resilient person can remain calm and focused as they move through an adverse situation. 

7 C’s of Resilience

Seven C’s of Resilience

The Seven C’s of Resilience developed by a pediatrician, Ken Ginsburg, MD, are well known. His specialty is in adolescent medicine at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. Dr. Ginsburg developed the 7 Cs model of resilience to help kids and teens build the skills to be happier and more resilient. Although the model was for children, the skills apply to adults also. 

Dr. Ginsburg developed the 7 Cs model to center around these critical ideas. First, children and teens live up or down to the expectation that (we) adults set for them. The young people need us (adults) to hold them accountable to high expectations and love them unconditionally. Second, modeling resilience for kids and teens is more important than talking about it.

Now, you are wondering what the 7 C’s of resilience are. The American Academy of Pediatrics summarizes the 7 Cs as follows:

  • Competence: We must know how to handle situations, trust our judgment, and make responsible decisions. 
  • Confidence: We gain confidence by being competent individuals. One should be skilled in handling real-life situations.
  • Connection: It is imperative to have close ties to family, friends, and community. All provide a sense of security and belonging in our lives.
  • Character: It is necessary to need a fundamental sense of right and wrong. We should make responsible choices, contribute to society, and experience self-worth.
  • Contribution: For children and adults having a sense of purpose is a powerful motivator. Making contributions to one’s community reinforces positive relationships that give and receive.
  • Coping: Learn to cope with stress effectively because it helps to prepare us better to handle adverse situations and personal or professional setbacks.
  • Control: Develop an understanding of our internal control to help us act as problem-solvers, not victims of circumstance. Suppose we learn that we can control the outcomes of our decisions. In that case, we are more likely to see ourselves as capable and confident.

Protective Factors

Being a resilient leader or human does not mean that you will not experience adversity, complicated situations, or distress. Life is not always rosy and full of joy. Developing resilience happens over time. None of us are born with it. We learn it and not necessarily during our childhood. Becoming a school leader and managing day-to-day school issues can bring out the best or worst in you. Some situations can take you out physically or emotionally, while others are as simple as ABC. As a resilient leader, you will need the following six things.

Social Support: You need people who have your back, or you can lean on them during difficult times. Family members, friends, siblings, or colleagues are possibilities. Please make sure they are trustworthy and fully supportive. 

Realistic Planning: Your ability to think out and create practical plans will help you play to your strengths and develop strategic goals.

Self-Esteem: Confidence is your friend and superpower. Your sense of self should be evident as you work through adversity.

Coping Skills: Problem-solving is a big part of managing. Hardships are not unsolvable. Use your problem-solving skills to get to the root of the matter. Then work it out!

Communication Skills: You must communicate what you need and your plan. During a crisis, you must mobilize your support systems and resources. You can do that by precisely sharing what is required.

Emotional Regulation: Can you manage your emotions during challenging times? You may feel like crying, screaming, or breaking down, but exude the confidence within you.

You are Resilient

A school leader’s job is challenging on many days and especially during a pandemic. Your load is heavy, and more duties and responsibilities are piling on you. You know in your heart that you cannot falter because the students, staff, and community depend on you. Whether you are ready or not for a brewing storm, your resilience has you covered. You are a resilient leader!

Quote of the Day: Resilience is the core strength you use to lift the load of life. Amet Sood, MD

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a small commission may be paid.

Resources American Psychological Association

Resilience Skills, Factors and Strategies

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