The Resilient Executive

Many global executives get singled out for a promotion to a new leadership role each year because of the experience they’ve gained, the companies they’ve worked for and of course their performance in the management functions they’ve attended.

Some are tapped - perhaps for the Chief Executive Officer’s seat or an appointment to a Non-Executive Board chair - due to their exceptional reputation in the markets he or she has operated in. Others are simply so well networked it’s hard for others not to notice and to want to try to leverage those relationships.

Still others find themselves in the right place at just the right time or maybe they’ve simply become the most gifted interviewees.

Whatever the driver or however, what’s equally important in any assessment of executive leadership capacity in the question of resilience.

Sure, the executive leaders we come into contact with every day are indeed gifted in myriad ways, but what is just as telling as a review of all his or her accomplishments during what appears a very successful career in the question of what crises, shortcomings, business challenges and self-doubts they’ve overcome to get to the top.

Hiring authorities would be well served to explore this topic when interviewing promising executive candidates, no matter how dazzling their resume or C.V. Getting to the bottom of what motivates a leader to press on in the face of significant personal or reputation risk is part of what could make him or her successful - and resilient - as part of your enterprise.

For it is through the narrative of how an executive almost dashed his or her future, or about the critical mistakes and misjudgments that led to their being fired earlier in their career that can most illuminate the kind of person who may now stand before you.

To really get to the heart of an individual, savvy global leaders are probing for markers of executive resilience. Don’t believe the person who says they haven’t had to overcome their own gaffes, mistakes, lacking confidence or personal failings in pursuit of excellence. In fact, you should run from them.

Where all of this leads us to is the point of recognising that all the platitudes used to describe an individual aren’t really effective filters against making a bad executive hire or management promotion decision. We are wise to peer more deeply into the individual leader’s own sense of self for signs of humility, self-awareness, tenacity and yes, resilience.

The leader who has bent, but not broken, during a crisis may bring incredible inspiration and focus in times of plenty. Look for resilience in your peers, subordinates and in yourself, too, and you may get closer to realising what that required to persevere and what that could means in terms of future growth and performance for the individual and the organisation, too.

Copyright © TRANSEARCH International 2015


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