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The Resilient and Self-Aware Leader

Resilience and self-awareness are critical for leader’s development, and play a huge role throughout certain situations. Events that are adverse in nature, which throw off a leader’s stability. Resilience is not designed to be a leader’s final step of the adaptation, but it is a very important piece of the leader’s overall process. Self-awareness is developed as part of a leader’s resilience. There are multiple domains of self-awareness that are strengthened as a result of resiliency. Those domains include mental, emotional, organic and social domains. The author will correlate these factors to a leader’s resilience and self-awareness, and how they contribute to resilient organizations.

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Human nature is to yearn for a sense of purpose. We all crave to belong, to mean something to somebody or to a group of people. As humans, we want to dig deep within ourselves and find our true happiness, and identify what it takes for us to live our lives in utter bliss. However, there are always going to be obstacles in our way, literal or figurative objects, there to stop us from reaching our full potential. All true leaders should live a life developing the necessary processes to help circumvent these obstacles. They must learn to change the old ways of thinking, so that they can pave a path for future leaders, one that continuously evolves over time. This path is long and hard, and requires leaders to become resilient and maintain self-awareness.

Resilience is defined as “an ability to recover from or adjust easily to misfortune or change” (Definition of RESILIENCE, n.d.). Resiliency is having the ability of maintaining efficiency during challenging times, avoiding undesirable moments during everyday life, and the ability to thrive during the inevitable chaos that associated with change. Individuals have to develop effective actions that will increase their probability of existence. Connor and Davidson (2003) refer to resilience as “the personal qualities and skills that allow for an individual’s healthy/successful functioning or adaptation within the context of significant adversity or a disruptive life event”. This is due to the fact that its employees do not need much time to adapt to new realities or to recover from stress associated with the change.

Self-awareness is defined as “an awareness of one’s own personality or individuality” (Definition of SELF-AWARENESS, n.d). Understanding one’s own motives and desires, can generally be accomplished through self-examination. Fenigstein et al. suggest that “increased awareness of the self is both a tool and a goal” (Fenigstein, Scheier, & Buss, 1975). When an individual understands oneself, more control is gained as the person navigates his or her way through life. Furthermore, it helps the individual to accept certain tendencies or mannerisms. Self-awareness can also be an exciting topic for people to learn about, as it can help identify differences between certain cultures and groups.

Within every successful organization, there are leaders who have learned the values of resilience and self-awareness. They have either learned through training, through personal experiences, or in some instances both. The experiences have helped leaders develop their purpose. When leaders understand their purpose, it assists them with exploring the valuable lessons gained throughout their lives that they deem as essential in establishing an environment needed to achieve desired results. In the book Legacy, James Kerr (2013) does a great job applying the characteristics used by the New Zealand All Blacks team in order to dominate the sport of Rugby, yet also informing the readers how those characteristics apply to all leaders. Kerr’s message to the readers is that it does not matter the size of the team that you lead, when understanding one’s purpose, leaders are more effective in achieving and sustaining performance that others respect.

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Leadership and emotions play a significant role in the success of an organization. Through intervention, organizations may pursue different techniques as ways to validate the development of their leaders, as well as the effectiveness of their emotional awareness. The Army does a great job of training its individuals on resiliency, by mandating periodic training. This training provides training for Soldiers at every level, introducing them to the “bounce back” idea. The course is given by Soldiers who are graduates of the Master Resilience Training (MRT) program. A study conducted by Griffith and West (2013) found that over 90% of Soldiers found the program to be “very helpful or helpful”. As a secondary aspect of the resiliency training, it helps Soldiers to develop a sense of self-awareness. Training events like this are a great tool for organizations to teach resiliency and self-awareness.

Organization’s that foster an environment of continual self-improvement often have a much higher probability for success. Kerr (2013) talks about enlightened leadership, and how enlightened leadership “promotes a structured system for the development of the team, combined with a tailored map for the development of the individual.” Seeking self-improvement is a great way for individuals to build on their resiliency and self-awareness. By seeking self-improvement, it is almost guaranteed that people will come across obstacles along their respective paths. Oftentimes, the traditional methods used to get passed these obstacles will not always work; thus, resulting in individuals not getting the same results as those before them. It is important for leaders to think critically, and develop modern methods to help them navigate through the obstacles. This will help breed transformational leaders that vital for organizations to succeed. Transformational leaders are expected to have a significant ability to influence (Tierney and Foster, 1989). The leaders are to be considered the examples, for others to emulate. Leader can take lessons learned from their experiences, and teach them to future leaders, while also enforcing the idea that resilience and self-awareness will only be mastered through modernization.

Understanding one’s emotional intelligence (EQ) is a great way of mastering resiliency and self-awareness. Goleman (1998b) defines EQ as “the capacity for recognizing our own feelings and those of others, for motivating ourselves, and for managing emotions well in ourselves an in our relationships”. Wechsler (1958) defined intelligence as “the aggregate or global capacity of the individual to act purposefully, to think rationally, and to deal effectively with his environment”. Successful leaders understand their EQ, and use it to their advantage. They do so by understanding not only their own thoughts, but by also understanding and empathizing with those around them. They use it to understand the strengths and weaknesses of themselves, as well as their peers and subordinates. This drives them to seek self-improvement, and to build upon their resilience and self-awareness. The Army does a great job at helping individuals know where they stand. They do so by mandating monthly counseling for its junior enlisted, as well as quarterly and annual evaluations for its mid-level and senior-level leaders. This ensures leaders know where they stand, and what they need to do to improve themselves both personally and professionally.

The ability to adapt to one’s surrounding plays an integral role in the development of a leader’s resilience and self-awareness. Adapting to things such the environment, the community in which a leader resides, or family issues can be critical towards that leader’s development. Dyer and McGuiness (1996) refer to resilience as being variable, and having a dependency on the various interactions surrounding an individual. This same concept corresponds to the development of self-awareness. Being forced to adapt and overcome helps leaders build upon that self-awareness. This allows them to understand where they currently stand in certain situations, and what it will take for them to thrive. Furthermore, understanding this will help them remain confident in their decisions. That confidence will radiate and will foster an environment of confidence within the leader’s team or organization.

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Enhancing mental and emotional durability, emphasizing and refining strengths, and promoting an environment of togetherness are the foundation of any effective leader. Leadership training help enhance these skills, but it is the emerging leader who must identify how important building resiliency and self-awareness truly benefits their organization. Recognizing the importance can assist leaders with being that agent of change organizations need to establish a positive culture. Establishing a positive culture will assist stakeholders with focusing on the positives, as opposed to the negatives; thus, transforming pessimists into optimists. Resilience and self-awareness is a continuously evolving process, and takes a tremendous amount of devotion and repetition. However, putting forward the effort will all but guarantee positive long-term effects.


  • Connor, K. M., & Davidson, J. R. T. (2003). Development of a new resilience scale: The Connor–Davidson Resilience Scale (CDRISC). Depression and Anxiety, 18, 76–82.
  • Dyer, J. G., & McGuinness, T. M. (1996). Resilience: Analysis of the concept. Archives of Psychiatric Nursing, 10, 276–282.
  • Fenigstein A., Scheier M. F., Buss A. H. (1975). Public and private self-consciousness: Assessment and theory. Journal of Counselling and Clinical Psychology, 43(4), 522–527.
  • Goleman, D. (1998b). Working with emotional intelligence. New York, NY: Bantam.
  • Griffith, J., West, C. (2013). Master resilience training and its relationship to individual well-being and stress buffering among army national guard soldiers. Journal of Behavioral Health Services & Research 40(2), 140-155
  • Kerr, J. (2013). Legacy. London, England: Constable
  • Merriam-Webster. (n.d.). Resilience. In Merriam-Webster.com dictionary. Retrieved February 10, 2020, from https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/resilience
  • Merriam-Webster. (n.d.). Self-awareness. In Merriam-Webster.com dictionary. Retrieved February 10, 2020, from https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/self-awareness
  • Tierney, W., & Foster, W. (1989). Educational leadership and the struggle for mind. Peabody Journal of Education, 66(3), 1-4. Retrieved February 11, 2020, from http://www.jstor.org. ezproxy.lib.usf.edu/stable/1492766?seq=1#page_scan_tab_contents
  • Wechsler, D. (1958). The measurement and appraisal of adult intelligence. (4th ed.). Baltimore, MD: The Williams & Wilkins Company.

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The Resilient and Self-Aware Leader
Resilience and self-awareness are critical for leader’s development, and play a huge role throughout certain situations. Events that are adverse in nature, which throw off a leader’s stability. Resilience is not designed to be a leader’s final step of the adaptation, but it is a very important piece of the leader’s overall process. Self-awareness is developed as part of a leader’s resilience. There are multiple domains of self-awareness that are strengthened as a result of resiliency.
2021-08-23 01:48:25
The Resilient and Self-Aware Leader
$ 13.900 2018-12-31
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