Resilience demystified – top tips from a CEO

Lubna Haq | 31 May 2024

NSCG recently hosted a Connex event which posed the challenging question: Why be a CEO in Housing’s current climate? In it we explored attendees’ respective resilience support interventions and what we’ve developed through research and experience.
Naturally, we were interested and intrigued by what would be shared by Sarah Thomas, CEO at RHP. She didn’t fail to blow us all away. Her five top tips resonated with our NSCG approach and with everyone in the room. Here Lubna Haq shares these top tips with you.

  1. Don’t worry about things outside your control. Focus instead on how you respond. Who hasn’t had that feeling of ‘everything, everywhere, all at once?’ But we don’t need to be overwhelmed by the feeling that everyone wants a bit of you, and you don’t have time to think. We can choose how we respond to what is going on around us and how we cope with day to adversity. Do we choose to get upset or involved in the small things or do we conserve our inner resources to deal with those things that would genuinely benefit from our intervention. We need to become more balanced in our thinking and our responses. Everything won’t necessarily be better with our involvement and, as leaders, isn’t it our role to develop a culture of accountability and curiosity to problem solve? Are we building resilience in our teams if we are constantly rescuing or merely facilitating dependency?
  2. Focus on the things that, genuinely, only you can do. Build a culture of leading through your leaders. Coach them to have the confidence to step up and for them to learn to delegate appropriately to their teams. It is equally important that they foster a culture of curiosity and accountability in their teams so that they in turn can focus on where they are adding real value.
  3. Optimise your time. In a crisis, a CEO is taking part in a sprint where they must maintain high energy and focus. Sometimes for significant periods of time. It’s exhausting, but a reality. A CEO’s life is made up of a series of sprints where they must be fully present and alert. It’s impossible to maintain this energy and focus endlessly. So, the rest of the time, in-between the full-on activity, it is vital to make and take the time for learning and reflection. Without this time for appreciative inquiry, all a senior leader is doing is lurching from one emergency to another and not considering what has gone well and what could be optimised. It’s like the saying goes, ‘if you always do what you’ve always done, you always get what you always got.’
  4. Invest in connections. It is true that it can be lonely at the top so don’t isolate yourself. You can’t be a good CEO if you act as an unbreachable island. Spend time with your customers understanding their views, concerns and objectives. Sarah felt it was important to engage deeply with small groups of people and use them as a sounding board to gain insight and wisdom.
    Research also shows that the most effective leaders invest in social connections both internal and external to the organisation. This helps them to maintain perspective, test and share ideas and importantly have fun and social interaction. This often leads to enhanced creativity and innovation.
  5. Be Bold! Obviously, it is important to be prudent with finances, safety and risk in general. However, it is important to have an innovative mindset where we are always asking the question, ‘What if?’ To do this well it’s important to ensure that systems and processes are working at top notch, management information is generated, collected and used effectively. Often the best ideas are built on good practice and are not often pure invention.

By doing these five things and building a culture of leading through leaders, in difficult times of change we can change the narrative from merely surviving to thriving. Learn more on how to build resilience within your teams today by contacting us.

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