Episode 31 - What I learned during Resilient Leadership course

You would have seen on my socials this week I was talking about an Ah-Ha moment I had during a recent course I completed. I want to give you a little more insight into the other things I learned also so I can pass on my knowledge.

Firstly, a huge thank you to Bundaberg Regional Tourism who arranged for the course, I was fortunate enough to gain a scholarship to complete the course at no fee. And an even bigger thank you to Leigh and Robbie from The Institute for Tourism Leadership Australia who facilitated the Course.


We got one day into our 4-day schedule before Covid-19 get its claws in and shut down the world. We made the move to online sessions, which is tricky to facilitate a large group at the best of times, But Leigh and Robbie did an amazing job. But what a time to be learning about resilience when we needed it most.


On first impressions, I wasn’t sure just how much I’d learn from this course. I have completed a lot of PD in my time and there is always some overlaps. But this course was much different than I had anticipated and I learned a ton. So if you ever get the chance to do this course or any training with Leigh or Robbie – Jump at it.


The course was broken into 4 sections, Build Industry Resilience, Resilient Leader, resilient teams & open to a connected world.


It was quite great timing that our first session was able to be done as a group in person, we looked at the industry we work in and our region and what reliance looks like.


We unpacked the six domains of resilience which I want to share just a snapshot of with you from our texts.

1 Vision – The most important of the domains, Vision is about your sense of purpose, goals, and personal vision for yourself. The reason this is the most important domain is that all other domains are guided by what it is you want to achieve. Having clarity in this domain allows you to be decisive when facing tough choices, and to maintain perspective when facing challenges. Whether your goals relate to family, to work, or a side project, what’s important is being specific and clear.


2 Composure – It’s about regulating emotions. The fight-or-flight response of the brain loves to flare up when facing conflict or hearing about a sudden change at work. But being able to overcome that instinctive emotional response and maintain your composure often means being able to recognise hidden opportunities and solve problems in novel ways. This is because becoming emotional prevents you from properly accessing your ability to think critically.


3 Reasoning – Creativity and innovative problem solving is incredibly useful when facing challenges along the way. This is what the Reasoning domain is all about. This domain needs Composure for you to keep your cool, as well as Vision so you know what goals to direct your actions toward.


4 Tenacity – Persistence is the key. Einstein pointed out the importance of persistence for success when he said that “It’s not that I’m so smart, it’s just that I stay with problems longer”. In a globalised world, success is no longer a given. We need to be willing to work hard and smart and stay with a problem if we hope to achieve something, especially if you want to achieve something that no one else has.


5 Collaboration – We are social beings. The brain has a deep fundamental need for connection with others to be able to thrive. The brain has dedicated neural structures to recognise facial expressions, while mirror neurons fire within the brain to help us empathise with others. We are, after all, in this together, so what we do and focus on is not just for us, but to help our communities together and improve our world. This connection is what the Collaboration domain is about.


6 Health – The foundational domain. Good health means looking after your body through what you eat, doing exercise, and getting quality sleep. A healthy body provides a strong foundation for your own resilience so you can focus on your sense of purpose and goals. Good health is not the ultimate goal itself, but instead is an enabler to achieve your larger personal vision.


The Resilient Leader and Resilient teams’ topics is where I gained the most growth personally. I am a bit of a phycology nerd so I was in my element. We really deep-dived into ourselves and what makes us tick as an individual. Overall, we completed a number of different testing, including our social styles, a comprehensive DISC profile, an Emotional intelligence assessment, and a personal resilience map and growth plan.


Here are my key thoughts that I took away from the learning.

In order to lead effectively, we need to know ourselves really well. What are base personality is, and how we react under stress and why.

I watched a video once about our brains and imagining a little toggle or switch inside it. When the toggle is down, we react with logic and sound thinking and reasonable thoughts. But when that toggle is flicked up we are in our emotional and irrational state. It’s really hard to cut through the noise once your triggered and that toggle is up.

To be an effective resilient leader, we need to practice keeping that toggle in check, knowing what things or behaviours can trigger us, and how to calm ourselves when we are triggered. Grounding ourselves, and reacting in a calm and thoughtful manner in front of our team can have a flow-on effect.

It’s very easy to buy into the panic and negativity in a team. Think about letting loose a mouse in a kindy classroom. Some of the children will react in fear, others may never have seen a real mouse in their lives. If their teacher screams and jumps on a table, the children will follow. But if the teacher remains calm, and deals with the situation, the students will remain calm also.

Learning about ourselves and keeping ourselves in check is super important. But equally as important, is empowering our team members with the same knowledge about themselves. It’s something I have done with my clients who have teams, and that’s profiling all your team members, and then learning how you all relate to each other.

If you have two team members with conflicting personalities or styles, you may find you have issues in your team’s cohesiveness. The exercise in learning how you all react and respond to each other is not to change people, but to make them aware and have more compassion for each other, rather than reacting with emotion.

I used to work in hospitality. It’s a fast-paced environment and for those 2 and a half hours of service, you are absolutely run off your feet. I was given shift manager roles when I was still quite young. And I noticed that I seemed to have problems with the new juniors thinking I was a bit of a bitch. I didn’t have the same problem though with those older or who had been in the industry for a while. I realised that it had become normal during service to give orders, rather than ask politely when something was needed. There wasn’t time for pleasantries. And after service, the team would all have a drink and a break together before cleaning up.

And it was then that I even realised that someone had a problem with me. I worked out very quickly that I needed to have a chat with the new recruits on their first shift before we got started. I explained to them that they may feel like the other staff are barking orders at them without a please or thank you, but that there was no malice behind it, and it wasn’t personal. I also made the extra effort to personally thank them during our break after service, complimenting them on something they did really well. And this kept everyone happy.

It’s the same with your team. When you are aware of each other’s styles, how it comes across to you, and how you come across to them. It’s much easier to acknowledge that logically and prevent that toggle from being triggered and reacting emotionally.

As the leader, our role isn’t to lead from the front, pulling everyone along and delegating tasks. Our role is to keep ourselves in check, notice when our team might be struggling, and keep everyone’s toggles in check. We lead by example, like the teacher with the mouse in the classroom who remains calm and deals with the situation.

It’s ok to be freaking out on the inside. Especially during times of great upset. It’s ok to convey your emotions and sadness to your team. In fact, that shows empathy. But putting that leader hat back on, and encouraging the team, setting a good example, that’s where the magic is.