Emotional resilience is an important contributor to broader resilience and wellbeing. It is also a key factor in leadership success. To understand why, let’s begin by exploring resilience.

Resilience is more than just recovering from adversity. Resilience is the capacity to deal with adversity in a positive way. The key to resilience is the ability to grow and adapt when encountering adversity. To turn challenges into opportunities. This is achieved through resilient habits, which act as resilience enablers.

Resilient habits are any activities that positively impact your resilience. They can be any activity that contributes to your physical, mental, emotional, or spiritual health and wellbeing, or supports a growth mindset. This includes anything that generates positive emotions and connection with others. Any activity that stimulates your mind, gets your body moving, generates growth in you, and nourishes your spirit. To maintain resilience, invest in a range of resilient habits on a regular basis.

A person, team or organisation with good resilience will recover more quickly and with less stress than those with less developed resilience.


The role of emotional resilience

Emotions are important contributors to resilience. Emotional resilience is the ability to manage and cope with emotional stressors and remain balanced, becoming strengthened and more resourceful. This occurs through resilient habits that foster growth or adaptation and turn challenges into opportunities. Emotional resilience allows us to effectively manage negative emotions, which is particularly important in times of stress and adversity.


How does emotional resilience relate to leadership success?

There are two foundational elements of emotional resilience important to leadership success. The first is adaptability. Adaptability is an important leadership competency. Adaptable leaders can meet challenges as they arise. They are able to adjust their behaviour accordingly. They are not halted by sudden change and remain comfortable with the uncertainty that leadership can bring.

When emotional resilience declines, it impacts how we are able to manage situations, engage with others and make decisions. It therefore impacts how effective we are as leaders.

Emotional adaptability is the ability to intentionally change or shape your emotions to positively adapt to a situation. My emotions often signal when my resilience has dropped. I notice that adapting my emotions requires more effort. Emotional adaptability is critical to managing acute or chronically stressful situations and dynamic circumstances. Situations which all leaders encounter regularly. When my emotional adaptability decreases, this impacts how I manage situations, engage with others and make decisions. Consequently, it determines how effective I am as a leader.

Emotional intelligence is a characteristic of adaptable leaders and essential to leadership success.

Emotional intelligence is the second element of emotional resilience important to leadership success. Adaptable leaders continually rely on their emotional intelligence to assess the environment around them and subsequently adjust their communication, decision-making and implementation. It’s the foundation of their ability to be adaptable.


Powerful habits for emotional resilience

Here are three powerful habits for emotional resilience that leverage neuroscience. Practicing these habits regularly will strengthen your emotional resilience and consequently your leadership success.


Mindfulness meditation

Mindfulness meditation strengthens the neural connections in the parts of the brain that manage emotional responses. As a result, the brain has greater capacity to recover more quickly from adversity and negative emotions. Mindfulness meditation is easy and there are numerous apps available.


Practicing gratitude

Expressing gratitude releases the feel-good hormones dopamine and serotonin. Dopamine and serotonin increase the experience and duration of position emotions, stabilise mood, and contribute to feelings of wellbeing and relaxation. In addition, gratitude results in greater activity in an area of the brain related to learning. Growth and adaptation, which are associated with learning, are important elements of resilience.


Treat emotions like ‘data’: observe and validate

Emotions are a form of data. They contain information specific to you, about what’s going on around and within you. However, you don’t always need to respond to the data. Instead, observe the emotions, validate them (it’s okay to feel the way you do), and then let them move on.


Emotional intelligence and emotional resilience can be cultivated once you have the right knowledge and an understanding of your own emotional intelligence abilities. If you are interested in learning how to intentionally build your emotional resilience or emotional intelligence, talk to me about Aya Leadership’s The Resilient Leader program, or how I can help you using the MSCEIT Emotional Intelligence tool.