Resilience: A Key Leadership Trait
A few years ago, I attended a college football game at my alma mater, Monmouth University. As a student there so many seasons back, I was sports director of the radio station, so I made my way up to the press box to say hello to the most current generation of play-by-play and color commentators on WMCX-FM. While there, I met a professional scout who was there to have a look at the Monmouth quarterback.
Naturally, I asked him any number of questions about his evaluation process and the traits he looks for in a pro-caliber quarterback: size, mobility, and arm strength were among them. And “certain intangibles,” he added. I was struck by the idea that someone could make a living by attending college football games.
The game began and was a back and forth affair with very little offense. Then about mid-way through the second quarter, the Monmouth quarterback threw an interception and the momentum swung to the opponent. I glanced over at my new acquaintance to assess his reaction. He was writing notes at a furious pace.
At halftime, I asked him his thoughts and in particular, about that interception. What he said surprised me. He was glad to see his young subject make that mistake for now he was able to make an important evaluation. “All quarterbacks throw interceptions-that’s nothing new,” he said. “What really matters is what happens next”.
He explained that it isn’t so much about a quarterback making mistakes, (”he handles the ball on every offensive play, so mistakes are bound to happen”) but how he reacts to making that mistake the very next time he takes the field. Is he tentative or does he stay in the pocket and focus downfield? Does the play calling become more conservative, indicating a loss of confidence on the part of the coaching staff? Does his demeanor and body language change (“an astute defense will be looking for that”). No, its not the mistake that matters, but how he bounces back.
As the leader of your organization, you “touch the ball” on just about every play. Leading the business through challenging times can be a daunting task, testing the confidence and the will of even the most veteran leader. In this year of unprecedented obstacles, there is no playbook to follow; many plays are now audibles called at the proverbial “line of scrimmage.” In 2020, as perhaps never before, the ability to remain calm, in control and “focus downfield” is a leadership requirement.
For a list of leadership tips for trying times, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Joseph P. Truncale, Ph.D., CAE, is the Founder and Principal of Alexander Joseph Associates, a privately held consultancy specializing in executive business advisory services with clients throughout the graphic communications industry.
Joe spent 30 years with NAPL, including 11 years as President and CEO. He is an adjunct professor at NYU teaching graduate courses in Executive Leadership; Financial Management and Analysis; Finance for Marketing Decisions; and Leadership: The C Suite Perspective. He may be reached at Joe@ajstrategy.com. Phone or text: (201) 394-8160.