By Mindy Bortness
What is a have-to-have soft skill that indicates a job candidate’s greatest propensity to be successful?
Problem-solving skills, personal accountability and time management are solid contenders; a few of the many examples of soft skills that can make the difference between a good team member and a great one.
Here’s my case for one that should easily rise to the top: resiliency.
Resiliency is the ability to rebound quickly from mistakes, mishaps or missteps and not let an event or moment derail your confidence or momentum. From a practical outcome in your culture, the more collective resiliency you have, the lower the gossip, grumbling and diffused focus. The most successful leaders in the world share the skill of resiliency. They are able to navigate through hard times without quitting.
My Chocolate Labrador, Jeffrey, was a terrific example of being resilient. Seriously, work with me here. Jeff was 14 and with us from 8 weeks old until he passed from cancer in 2018. Nothing phased that boy. Confident. Optimistic. Kind. He’d bounce back from any challenge in the neighborhood pack. He was the diplomat when we’d introduce a new dog or cat into our home. And when he was diagnosed with cancer, he handled the meds, the acupuncture, the laser treatments like a pro. His demeanor was always bright, strong and resilient.
All leaders should strive to build their resiliency muscle, and anyone in charge of hiring should look for candidates who are resilient or have a desire to grow their resilience. Building this important workplace trait is an investment in yourself, your team culture and your organization.
One of the easiest ways to understand resiliency, in yourself or others, is to think back to a difficult work experience from six months ago. This time period allows you to still remember the details and emotions of the situation, but also gives you enough time to see the more full, complete picture.
Ask yourself the following:
- Are the events of that situation still top of mind?
- Did you make the event bigger than it was at the time?
- Do you continue to make a big deal of the event today?
- Has the event defined you in any way?
The last question is critical. We, as human beings, have a tendency to let an event rule us as opposed to us ruling the event. Defaulting to this tendency is the opposite of resiliency; it’s important in work (and in life) to see beyond the event when it is happening and also months down the road.
Now that you’ve reviewed the above questions, the goal is to bring this newfound clarity into the present during the next moment of conflict or crisis. It’s all about perspective. As you’re navigating a new hardship, resiliency will help you become mindful that the event doesn’t have the power to define your character. It’s a practice to build resiliency.
These are the positives of building a resilient mindset, yet be aware this skill can be overextended as well.
Some individuals have become so resilient that they’re staying in a role that’s not right for them. Others who are too resilient settle for a leader that doesn’t value their contributions or pushes them to be better. This can also manifest in someone staying at an organization where they are no longer a culture fit, but their ability to be resilient blinds them from having the desire to look elsewhere. They power through conflict when, instead, they could seek new opportunities where conflict could be reduced.
In other words, being too resilient can lead to complacency. In very severe cases, being too resilient can lead a person to stay quiet and endure toxic workplace relationships and environments.
In the end, I always advocate for leaders and employees to work on resiliency. At the core of it is treating yourself with kindness and giving yourself grace when mistakes are made. Don’t dwell in the mistake; rather, spend some time thoughtfully learning from it. Then, move on. Bounce back like a Labrador.