Strategies To Strengthen Superintendent Resilience

In their forthcoming book Resilient Leadership for Turbulent Times, co-authors Jerry Patterson, George Goens and Diane Reed identify three broad skill sets required of the contemporary superintendent: resilience thinking skills, resilience capacity skills and resilience action skills. This summarizes what strategies are included in each skill category.

Resilience Thinking
Anticipate and build contingency plans for ambiguity and complexity inherent in the reality of your organizational life;

Gather all relevant information, from as many credible sources as possible, about what is really happening relative to the adversity;

Work positively within the unavoidable constraints imposed by the reality of the adverse circumstances;

Find ways to have a personal influence in making good things happen in a bad situation;

Focus your energy on the opportunities, not the obstacles, found in the midst of adversity (but don’t deny the obstacles); and

Shift your thinking from “if only” thinking to “how can I” thinking when faced with tough times.

Resilience Capacity Building
Be able to privately clarify and publicly articulate your core values in the face of the storm;

Consistently align your leadership actions with what matters most to you among competing values;

Try to understand your emotions during adversity and how those emotions affect your leadership performance;

Protect the necessary time and space to replenish your capacity to lead an emotionally, physically and spiritually rich life;

Build the resources of a strong support base to help you through the tough times; and

Compensate for any relative weaknesses you have in an area by turning to others who have strength in this area.

Resilience Action Skills
Nimbly change your strategies as conditions change;

Put your leadership mistakes in perspective, publicly acknowledge the mistakes and move beyond them;

Find the strength to persevere, to relentlessly refuse to give up, unless it’s absolutely clear that all realistic strategies have been exhausted;

Stay focused on what matters most among competing demands and distractions by outside forces until success is attained;

Take appropriate action under stress, even when some things about the situation are ambiguous or confusing;

Take personal responsibility for making tough decisions that may negatively affect some individuals or groups; and

Act on the courage of your convictions, despite the risks posed by the adversity.