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Henley Leadership Group Blog

The Three Key Traits Of A Sturdy Leader

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The need for sturdy leadership has never been more apparent.

I first heard the term “sturdy leader” while listening to a podcast with Dr. Becky Kennedy, PhD, a clinical psychologist, bestselling author, and founder of “Good Inside.” She was talking about how families and kids need adults to be “sturdy,” and it got me thinking about what it means to be a “sturdy leader” through the lens of executive leadership. 

That’s when I realized, the need for sturdy leadership has never been more apparent. 

So, what exactly is it? 

Sturdy leadership means cultivating the resilience, adaptability and commitment necessary to wade through murky, muddy waters in order to guide teams towards success.

Being sturdy doesn’t mean you were born this way. It may be a muscle you build as you go. It’s also not about being infallible and never screwing up; in fact, it’s the opposite. It’s about keeping your mind and heart open and being willing learn along the way and make necessary changes. 

The 3 Characteristics of Sturdy Leadership

Sturdy leadership is built on a foundation of resilience. This means having the ability to bounce back from setbacks, challenges and even failure with grace and determination. I once heard that the definition of perseverance is “to carry on, in a state of grace, without complaint, to the end.” I’ve tried to embody this in my leadership and offered it in my coaching for leaders.

Rather than viewing failure as a finality, sturdy leaders see setbacks as an opportunity for growth, learning and development. Instead of letting issues and obstacles dissuade them, they use them as fuel to drive them forward, emerging stronger, more resilient and a bit wiser.

Sturdy leadership is also about adaptability. In today’s unpredictable world, the ability to pivot is central to success. Sturdy leaders understand that resisting change slows progress. They embrace innovation and look for opportunities for growth and improvement. Whether it’s embracing advances in technology, shifting market trends or changing consumer preferences, sturdy leaders are agile and open-minded, ready to pivot in response to changing circumstances.

But perhaps the most defining characteristic of sturdy leadership is unwavering commitment. In the face of uncertainty and doubt, sturdy leaders are steadfast in their commitment to the big ideals — vision, mission, values. They possess a deep sense of purpose that guides their actions and decisions, even when the path forward seems unclear or impossible. Instead of giving into fear or doubt, sturdy leaders inspire confidence and trust in those around them, rallying their teams with fierce determination. They remind them of the big idea they are all participating in together. They provide inspiration and resolve when the going gets tough. 

How to Become a Sturdy Leader

We need more sturdy leaders in this world, and each one of us has the potential to take on the role. 

1.    Ask for feedback: Where are you sturdy and where are you wobbly in your leadership? Seek out the perspectives of those around you.

2.    Get intentional: Do you lose your cool when you’re anxious or overwhelmed? Work on calming your nervous system in times of stress. Do you lose sight of the big picture? Carve out time each week for your own inspiration and connection to the ideals you are giving your time and talent to. 

3.    Most of all, get out of your comfort zone: Growth and progress occur outside of your comfort zone. Recognize this fact and be willing to take risks to become sturdier. 

Sturdy leadership makes so much possible in the world. People experience comfort, safety and belonging with sturdy leaders. Team members can stretch into new territory knowing that a sturdy leader will have their back. Cultivate the qualities of leading with resilience, adaptability and unwavering commitment, and you will become a sturdy, trustworthy, remarkable team leader.

Previously published on Forbes

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