Many training and people development organisations are working in the area of resilience.  They are primarily concerned with supporting people to build their resilience, focusing on health and well-being, stress management, and helping people integrate their work as a fundamental part of their lives (sloppily referred to as “work-life balance”). The primary concern is to encourage people to develop coping mechanisms when their resilience is low.  The talk is all about “bouncing back”. Here we look at what Donald Trump was able to teach us about resilience, albeit not intentionally.

Too much resilience

This is regularly overlooked in resilience programmes and often completely ignored. Yet, people with too much resilience can be more challenging to work with than those with low levels of resilience.  Too much resilience can be seen at the Board level and within senior management teams.  For this reason, resilience programmes should be looking at developing resilience.

Donald Trump did not “bounce”; he steamrollered his views and opinions without consideration for others.  He did not appear to listen.  If anyone disagreed with him, he fired them as if he were still at the helm of “The Apprentice” TV show. However, there are some valuable lessons here to teach us about resilience.

By driving through what he wanted and adapting quickly to changing situations, he appeared not to care about others” feelings.  By pushing his agenda too fast, he could appear to be too emotionally controlled. This is shown in inappropriate ways by mocking the emotional expression in other people.  By not comprehending the anxieties of others and by not understanding their inability to respond in the same way, he showed a lack of empathy, a degree of selfishness and a perceived lack of caring.

Toning down resilience

Leaders must regard and treat others as fellow human beings. Even those with perceptions different from theirs. They must understand these differences and ensure there is emotional engagement.  People need to feel supported.  Without this approach, the actions of those with too much resilience don’t’ help those who find it difficult to adapt or who get stuck.  In certain circumstances, they may come across as self-centred.

This is highly challenging.  The usual type of resilience programme will fall short. The question is about how we would have gone about working with Trump to tone down resilience.

A meta-study of 19 resilience measures reported as reliable and valid concluded that there is no gold standard measure of resilience (Windle G., Bennett K. and J. Noyes (2011). Health and Quality of Life Outcomes, 9:8).  Assessments of personal resilience are unlikely to be helpful with a person with too much resilience anyhow – they will react with impatience and aggression, responding with comments such as “I know that already” and “So what?”.

Some people with too much resilience will prove impossible to change.  Fortunately, most senior executives recognise when they have issues and have the strength of character to want to make the necessary changes.

Using clean language questions

Coaching using Clean Language questions is a helpful technique, especially in teaching us about resilience. It can be useful when considering levels of resilience for leaders.   It is the practice of exploring metaphors, listening and observing with full attention the words being used (and non-verbal signals) without giving advice, sharing opinions or adding in any assumptions around the metaphors used.

Everyone’s way of experiencing the world is different, yet all communication directs attention in some way.  Clean questions have been perfected over the years to reduce the direction, assumptions, and inferences that they contain.  This minimises the amount of contamination from the coach asking the questions to free up the resources of the person being questioned to think effectively for themselves.  This is important so that the person can do their very best thinking, explore their inner world and take responsibility for their own choices.

Learn more about resilience, stress and stress management here

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I am an emotional intelligence coach, trainer, and facilitator with over 35 years’ business and commercial experience. I am the author of “The Authority Guide to Emotional Resilience in Business” and “The Authority Guide to Behaviour in Business” part of The Authority Guides series. I have the most comprehensive range of emotional intelligence courses available on the internet taken by over 250,000 learners in 175+ countries. If you would like to discuss how online learning can develop resilience, emotional intelligence, or leadership across your organisation, give me a call on 07947 137654 or email me at [email protected]