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5 Ways to Communicate as a Transformative, Resilient Leader


Dec. 17, 2021 Psychology Today

Recently, the phrase, “your job will be posted before your obituary,” went viral. And the sad reality is, it went viral because so many people can relate to the sentiment. 

After more than a year and a half of the coronavirus pandemic, burnout among workers is surging. There are many suggestions for how individuals can cope—from practicing self-care, to using mental health resources provided by employers, to taking the extra vacation time some companies gave their workers this past summer. 

But the truth is, research shows individual actions cannot mitigate organizational factors that lead to burnout and employee loss. The call is coming from inside the house. 

If you’re in a position of leadership, you can seize this time and find ways to make your team feel valued for who they are, not just what they do. Transformative, resilient leaders understand that adversity can provide a rationale to take risks that would otherwise seem unjustifiable—and change a culture in previously unimagined ways.

My mentor, Dr. George S. Everly, has written about what every leader should know regarding crisis and growth. Here, I want to hone in on one of our five pillars of transformative, resilient leadership: building supportive relationships.

Here are the five elements of supportive relationships that transformative leaders should strive to enact in their workplaces:

1. Equanimity

Worker shortages. Childcare issues. Supply chain breakdowns. The list of crises leaders have dealt with in the past few years is overwhelming, yet one of the top things a leader can do for their team is to model composure, calm, and an even temper.

Easier said than done, we know. But demonstrating equanimity reassures your team that you have an objective perspective, and they can trust you with their concerns and problems. Strive to create time in your schedule for your own processing and mental reframing, so you’re not reactive in discussions with your team.

2. Reliability/Trustworthiness

To quote from our book: “Think of reliability as consistency. Consistency yields predictability. Predictability engenders trust. Trust is a key characteristic of high-performing organizations, especially those enduring a crisis.” 

We can boil this down to a few simple, yet powerful, actions:

  • Do what you say you’re going to do.
  • If you must break a promise, clearly and promptly explain why.
  • Show genuine kindness to your team members, both to their faces and behind their backs.

These small actions, over time, foster a workplace that feels reliable and trustworthy, and that has a big effect. According to Paul Zak (2017), people who work in “high trust” organizations have 74 percent less stress, 106 percent more energy, 50 percent higher productivity, 13 percent fewer sick days, 76 percent more interpersonal connectedness, and 29 percent more life satisfaction.

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