A Leader’s Greatest Strength – Resilience in the Face of Adversity

Should imbibing virtues be a part of Leadership Training?

One isn’t necessarily born with courage, but one is born with potential. Without courage, we cannot practice any other virtue with consistency. We can’t be kind, true, merciful, generous, or honest.” – Maya Angelou quotes

Ours was a private school and didn’t have the luxury of a large playground. So, we shared a playground with kids from other schools. They disliked us because they felt we were not supposed to be there.

It was one of those days when all of us were playing cricket and a few meters away were the other kids, also playing a loud form of cricket. There was tension in the air, as our team and theirs were playing side by side.

Suddenly, I hear a deafening silence. Our ball slipped into ‘their territory’ and we were not sure who would go and collect it from them. Finally, John, our class monitor, was left with the dirty job. John approached ‘the other kids’, who paused their game as their leader gestured for them to do so. Humbly, but bravely, he walked up to the leader of their group and said, “I am sorry to be interrupting your game. May I have our ball back please?” The response was as expected, a blunt ‘No’.

As a bonus, John was showered with a few adjectives in the local language. Not losing hope, John, despite our cautioning hisses, chose to insist, “Please don’t be angry. We will be careful henceforth. Please return our ball.”

One tight slap… that’s all we got to hear. John’s glasses were on the ground, covered with sand. Even before John could react, the other kids, along with their leader rushed out of the playground, taking our ball with them. John kneeled down to lift his broken glasses while we were still in absolute shock. Surprisingly, he then went looking for the other guy so he could try talking to him again, but in vain. John looked shaken but there was no fear in his face; soon he regained his calm composure…

Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the judgment that something else is more important than fear.” – Ambrose Redmoon quotes

It would have been very easy for John to retaliate in kind but he chose not to. He chose to believe in himself, his ability to discuss the issue and not in retaliation or one-upmanship.

While we didn’t have the nerve to stand up for ourselves, John faced our worst fear, and probably his too, without letting any of us down.

It is in adversity that one finds the shepherd emerge from the sheep.

Isn’t it this quality of courage under pressure that we would like our leaders to possess?

You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience by which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, ‘I lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along.” – Eleanor Roosevelt

It is the learning from such experiences that develop the leadership traits that make you an impactful leader. Recall these life changing experiences and reflect on your learning and notice how it contributes to your performance today.

Read some of our blogs on topics that are frequently addressed in soft skills training:

  1. 3 Invaluable Soft Skills For The Workplace
  2. How Business Etiquette Really Matters
  3. TED Talks And The Art Of Public Speaking

Courage – A Must For Leaders

This story is an example of why we emphasize in our leadership training that courage is a non-negotiable for leaders.

This scene is set in Chinnakkalpet on the southeast coast of India on December 26th 2004. Unsuspecting fishermen were returning with their daily catch, their kids playing along the shore while their mothers got to their daily chores. Little did they realize that the sea was going to embrace them all, in one giant leap, in a short while.

At 8.30am the Tsunami struck with a vengeance.

Dinakaran was the oldest of three children; he was 7 years old. His parents felt that he had the greatest chance for survival independently so they gathered up their two younger children and ran to safety. But the wave was too high and too quick for Dinakaran. Before he knew it he was being dragged into the depths of the sea. He tried to grab at the shrubs and the trees as the water pulled him with great force. He was exhausted and he resigned to death when suddenly he felt a bite on his shorts which penetrated into his skin. He thought it was a tree stump but for some reason it stemmed his flow into the sea. When he looked down to his utter amazement he noticed that he was being dragged back to the shore. His guardian angel was his dog, Selvakumar.

Great opportunities to help others seldom come, but small ones surround us every day.” – Sally Koch

Do we have the courage that Selva displayed? Do we handle situations with always the thought, “What is in it for me?” Can we display the selflessness that this animal showed in rescuing his friend?”

Selva teaches us to do what we shy away from doing most of the time – to help without expectations. While we race to compete and excel in our lives, it is important that we pause for a second and lend a helping hand to those in need. We would be living in a better world if only we could criticize less, ridicule less, mock less and help more.

The hands that help are far better than the lips that pray.” – Robert Green Ingersol

Here are some of our recent blogs:

  1. Essentials of any Leadership Training Program
  2. 3 Tips To Improve Creative Thinking
  3. Communication Skills Of A Good Manager

Stress – A leadership non-essential

Why is Stress Management Training a key part of our corporate training?

The morning of June 12th 2010 started off uneventfully. I had not seen my dad for over a month and I waited in anticipation as I wanted to share some really exciting things with him. The day was not going fast enough for me. Suddenly the quiet was interrupted by the harsh ring of the telephone. For some uncanny reason the feeling of anticipation turned to fear. It was a call from one my relatives saying that he had just then seen the news of a bomb explosion on a railway track near Villupuram. In a flash I realized that my Dad was traveling to Chennai on that route. Time stood still…. Instinctively I called my father on his cell but call would not go through. The feeling fear elevated to one of horror. Stress overtook me and I found I was quickly incapable of all rational thinking. We just sat frozen as near the phone as possible.

About an hour later we got the much longed for news – dad was safe. Oblivious of all the confusion and tension that prevailed at home, my dad informed us that his train was right behind the one that bore the explosion. It was close call. I had always admired my dad for his amazing capability to stay calm in crisis. He did just that once again! He got down from the train, walked a kilometer to the nearest highway and boarded a bus to Chennai. He was not perturbed by the explosion rather he was grateful for his safety. I was reminded of this quote:

“Worry does not empty tomorrow of its sorrow; it empties today of its strength.”-Corrie Ten Boom

I realized that there was so much I could have done – go to Villupuram (which is only 2 hours away), call the railway help line, send a text message to my dad’s phone….. and many other things that could have saved his life, if there was danger. This could have relieved us of a lot of heartache and tension. I think the moral of the story is that it is not the challenge that causes us the problem but the anxiety and stress generated in our mind.

No matter how tough the situation is, staying calm in a crisis is a key leadership quality in todays global work environment. A President/Prime Minsiter of a country is called upon primarily in times of crisis; a manager should be able to calm a disturbance and a leader should bring peace when there is restlessness.

Here are some of our blogs on soft skills training:

  1. 3 Invaluable Soft Skills For The Workplace
  2. How NOT To Deal With Stress
  3. 3 Steps to Efficient Negotiation

Follow your heart – Courageous Leadership

On December 1, 1955, when a White person got into the bus, Rosa Parks, a 42 year old Black woman refused to give up her seat at the front of the bus and move to the back. Today the action seems simple but not in 1955, when black people were treated like slaves and second class citizens by the white people. This action created a major uproar and Rosa Parks was put in jail overnight. When in jail, she got up to get herself a glass of water and she was informed by the jail warden that the water fountain was only for white people. This was the straw that broke Rosa Parks’ back. She decided that she would do what it took, even at the risk of losing her own life, to attain liberty for Black people from this oppressive situation. She joined forces with Martin Luther King and was one of the key people responsible for the Civil Rights Movement which released the Black people to a life of freedom.

Now what would prompt a woman who was a seamstress in a local department store to take a brave stance of this magnitude? I think that she had a clear vision for success that was propelled by her passion. “A great leader’s courage to fulfill his vision comes from passion, not position.” John Maxwell quotes.

What Rosa Parks did was not an act that was planned with a specific personal objective. In fact, what she did was spontaneous, triggered by her quest for equality and her rejection of racial discrimination. The loss of a job or even the loss of her life didn’t deter her from continuing her quest for equality. Leadership takes courage – courage to step out of one’s comfort zone and explore unknown territory. Rosa Parks did just that.

Are you willing to constantly challenge yourself to go beyond what you think you are capable of?

Follow your dreams!