Nurturing Resilience – Opportunities to Inspire Leadership

On laptop diverse people collage webcam view over woman shoulder

Protecting the well-being of students and staff is, as always, of the utmost importance.

As we begin to emerge from the third (and hopefully final) national lockdown, we look back over the resilience we have required from both our staff and our students, in order to continue delivering a positive atmosphere to promote continued learning.

It comes as no surprise that the number of changes during the last year has, at times, seen staff having to adapt to working remotely while simultaneously juggling home-schooling and other pandemic related pressures.

In addition, we have seen a rise in anticipation that children of all ages uphold a high level of attention to classes and independent work, all the while their learning environments have been for the most part completely inaccessible.

Everyone in the education industry has developed a huge amount of resilience in the face of adversity.

While acknowledging that this has by no means been an easy situation to be in, the benefits of continuing to nurture this newly developed resilience will not only benefit students but your staff, as they embark on a progressive journey of professional development.

Taking a step back to take a few steps forward

Adaptability and resilience are two key factors that have come into play – through hard times, these primary leadership skills shine through.

It is worth acknowledging that although these traits are instinctive in some people, they can be easily picked up and with the right guidance, developed into some invaluable skills, that lend themselves well to leadership roles.

“Resilience is a protective factor against stress, anxiety and depression and can be described as our ability to bounce back emotionally, adapt, recover and grow during or after difficult and stressful times” (Rutter, 2008).

Recognising resilience by developing emotional intelligence

Throughout the pandemic, which has at times been nothing short of a crisis, we have also had time to take a step back and reassess the way we work. This forced slowdown has enabled many people to develop a deeper understanding of their own emotions and increase their overall emotional intelligence.

Daniel Goleman breaks down the understanding of developed emotional intelligence into four components:

  • Self-awareness – An understanding of your emotions and the ability to recognise how this can impact the way your attitudes and behaviours are perceived towards people and work.
  • Self-management – Demonstrating self-control in crisis situations, further enabling you to think and act tactfully to overcome obstacles. This also contributes to a healthy work initiative and a drive to be the best version of yourself.
  • Social awareness – Being aware of your own emotions to a point that allows you to be more conscious of another person’s emotions and show empathy and understanding to their concerns.
  • Social skill & relationship management – This component is all about communication. If you can nurture your emotional intelligence to the point of using the skills you have acquired to lead, inspire and manage your relationships with others, you are better placed to make informed decisions regarding an individual’s capabilities.

Recognising your own resilience through a heightened understanding of your own emotional intelligence is key to helping your staff nurture and develop their own leadership skills.

Ways you can continue building a resilient attitude 

Mary Evans, suggests that resilience is something to be developed and maintained, proposing that taking time to complete self-serving activities, will enable you to deal better with challenging situations. Some of her suggestions include:

  • Downtime – Ensure that you take time for yourself to just relax and do nothing.
  • Recharge – Take time to find an activity that makes you feel more energetic and in control of your happiness.
  • Get to know yourself better – Spend time understanding what it is that makes you feel as though you have a purpose. It is good to set goals for yourself that will give you a sense of achievement.
  • Ask for help when you need it – This is part of developed self-awareness and emotional intelligence that is often overlooked but having the ability to recognise when you need additional help outside of your own ability to meet an objective is an extremely strong trait.

Resilience as a leadership trait – How to nurture your staff’s resilience

Demonstrating resilience during a crisis can bring out aspects of a person’s character that signify a higher leadership ability.

Resilience is, of course, not the only quality you will look for from your staff when considering them for school leadership and school management roles. However, taking time to recognise resilience in your staff and knowing how to nurture this skill will enable you to provide attractive CPD opportunities.

How you can continue nurturing resilience into a leadership skill

  • Foster a ‘here to help’ culture.
  • Increase opportunities for connection, both within a work environment and a social one.
  • Provide opportunities for progression. Let your staff know that you want to invest in their continued professional development and provide opportunities for them to learn more about how they can do this both independently and through staff management training programs.

Overall, recognising how these components will benefit your approach to leading your staff, will set you up to better recognise promising attributes of potential management staff.

In addition, your staff will be driven by the prospects of progression as a result of their demonstrated resilience, which will ultimately impact the education they deliver to your students.

Several of the topics covered in this article will feature in the upcoming Inspiring Leadership Hybrid Conference

In addition to core topics of Crisis Management; Mental Well-being and Remote Learning, there will also be discussions surrounding Leadership Presence; Diversity and Inclusion and Community Engagement.

The Inspiring Leadership 2021 conference will take place at the Utilita Arena in Birmingham. Due to social distancing rules and regulations, face-to-face tickets are available but limited, so book today to avoid disappointment.

You can also attend the conference virtually with our virtual conference package which offers school leaders the chance to attend as an individual, with colleagues or as a leadership team.

All conference content will be available to you on-demand after the conference for 30 days.