Unleashed Episode 4

The Resilient Leader

with Dr. Karen MacNeill

Today we are joined by Dr. Karen MacNeill, a sport and performance psychologist helping athletes, leaders and organizations to consistently bring their best in high pressure situations. She is also a founding partner and Chief Product Officer at headversity, a digital program that measures, tracks and trains resilience in the workplace. Karen has the unique experience of having both competed and consulted on the world stage. She’s worked with athletes competing at the last 4 Olympic Winter Games and competed herself at the international level for over a decade.

The focus today is The Resilient Leader – how can we be the best for ourselves and our businesses in these chaotic times?

What is a Resilient Leader?

Karen referenced the 1914 Ernest Shackleton expedition to Antarctica. The story is well documented and a great example of resilience. In summary, resilience is demonstrated through:

  1. The ability to maintain calm in the face of uncertainty and adversity, AND
  2. The ability to act despite the circumstances and emotions. Being aware of emotions but using them as data and not the director of our actions.

There is no rule book for the current times, however we do have tools today that we’ve never had before as leaders. We are enabled by technology now and many employees have access to the data they need to do their jobs from anywhere. Technology also provides us with communication channels to our employees that we’ve never had before. For lots of us, working remotely was normal even before the pandemic.

A Model for Resilience

Karen then went on to share her model of resilience which we can use for ourselves and to coach our employees. A person’s resilience is not fixed; it can be developed and strengthened just like any other muscle:

  1. Self Expertise -Know yourself; what is your personal brand and how do you want to “show up” everyday to provide the most value to yourself and your teams?
  2. Mindfulness – Taking time to understand your thoughts and feelings, being present, and noticing stress and using techniques like deep breathing to buffer against anxiety and emotion.
  3. Mental Fitness and Health – recognizing that it’s a continuum and taking action to maintain high levels like practicing gratitude, connection and control. Knowing that mental health is a real condition and knowing what supports and resources are available.
  4. Hardiness – the ability to endure difficult conditions. It’s a stress buffer, and people with it have high levels of:
    • Commitment to their purpose; their why, and what contribution they can make.
    • Control – clarifying and focusing on things we can control and not those we can’t.
    • Challenge -recognizing that there will be people and organizations that will come out of this stronger.
    • Connect – having a group of people, your ‘go to” board, that you can talk to for support.
  5. Energy management – knowing and maintaining resilience takes energy, and we must feed our bodies and souls. It’s a marathon not a sprint, so give yourself energy by eating well, getting good sleep, exercising, and getting outside.

You can watch the entire episode below or visit our channel for this and other episodes of Unleashed.

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