This Week's Herman Trend Alert

Leadership in Normal 2.0

  The Herman Trend Alert

September 13, 2006

Skill for Future Success

When we profile successful leaders of the future, several qualities grab our attention. One trait, attracting the attention of researchers, is resilience, defined as tough-mindedness and the ability to accept criticism. PsyMax Solutions, a human capital assessment firm, recently completed a study of more than 2,000 employees.

The firm analyzed the profiles of district and regional managers, department or unit managers, and supervisors. The middle managers’ median tough-minded score was the highest of all groups. By comparison, the company presidents and CEOs ranked lowest for resiliency, followed by the executives, and professional, technical, and administrative employees.

"The study suggests that middle managers have the greatest ability to accept criticism," said PsyMax Solutions CEO Dr. Wayne Nemeroff. "Perhaps because of the nature of the middle management role they continuously get feedback from all directions, from above, below and sideways. Those at the center of the organizational structure demonstrate strength in being able to manage stress and to keep resilient in the face of frustration, disappointment or criticism."

According to Nemeroff, resilience is an essential skill for middle managers. They provide leadership to front line supervisors. Middle managers plan, direct, and/or coordinate the day-to-day operations of companies. Sometimes, they are owners who head small businesses and require the ability "to handle frequent criticism or rejection, to work through tough negotiations, and to build credibility by remaining even-tempered."

Problems can result when the resiliency skill is not developed, Nemeroff advised. Some common issues include allowing stress and frustration to show, becoming defensive in response to criticism, and having difficulty rebounding from setbacks.

Nemeroff believes people who need to develop resilience should readily accept constructive criticism and seek to learn from it. These people should also share their thoughts or reactions, and not hold them in. In fact, too much emotional control sometimes causes others to shut down communication and forget about their listening skills. People who want to develop resilience should speak more openly and make themselves more vulnerable.

Make sure people know where you’re coming from and that you’re really listening to them. What’s your resilience capacity---now and in the future?

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