Key Trait of Business Leaders

The Key Trait Every Successful Business Leader Has

A business can be broken down into a series of challenges. The success of a business is determined by how quickly and effectively those challenges are overcome.

Let me say that again: the success of a business is determined by how quickly and effectively challenges are overcome.

Build resilience to overcome challengesWhat’s Challenging You?

You don’t have to have a great bounty of knowledge in your industry. You can learn as you go. With resources like Google, Youtube, Quora, LinkedIn groups, and, there is almost no topic that you cannot acquaint yourself with quickly.

Finances are another area many business owners will point to as the cause of their stagnation. Again, there are hundreds of ways to get the financial resources you need and many of them can be found in the resources I suggested above.

Products and services aren’t being gobbled up? Here is another area many disheartened business owners and company leaders will look to as the reason success continues to be elusive. Yet, why are their competitors doing so well?

Lastly, another bandit of the “no progress, no results” parade is the team. I hear statements like this often: “If I just had the right team, I could make this happen.” Again, you will often find team members who came out of the gate running…and slowly, over time, lost interest in shooting past the goal. What happened?

What these business leaders are not recognizing is their own reaction to adversity. They are not paying attention to where their minds and their energies go when plans go awry: software crashes, people call in sick, a customer calls to complain (or several), they don’t make the sale, or they get into a disagreement with an important person in their life.

Get a New Perspective

One of the things I do best is help business leaders gain new perspectives on themselves, their business and the people around them, so their stress level goes down – and their ability to solve problems quickly and easily goes up.

A good portion of the conversations I have with my clients centers around how much resilience they, and therefore their business, have in dealing with the unexpected and unwanted – because the unexpected and unwanted are right around the corner. Click to Tweet!

What Resilience MeansKey Trait of Business Leaders

In a Harvard Business Review article, author Martin E.P. Seligman discusses “learned helplessness”. In simple terms, Seligman was part of a team in the late 1960s that found that dogs, rats, mice, and even cockroaches who felt a slightly painful shock over which they had no control eventually just accepted it – without attempting to escape the situation. Later, it was shown that human beings do the same thing.

Here’s the interesting part: about a third of the animals and people who experience inescapable shocks or noise never resort to helplessness. Why?

The answer might be simpler than you think: optimism.

Seligman and his colleagues found that those who are resilient – who don’t give up even in the face of adversity – have a habit of seeing setbacks as “temporary, local, and changeable”.

Someone who sees the glass half empty might look at a situation and say, “Well, I guess this is just the way it is; there’s nothing I can do about it.” In contrast, a more optimistic person may respond, “I’ve been through worse before. I know I can find the good in this and overcome the situation.”

“How human beings react to extreme adversity is normally distributed. On one end are the people who fall apart into PTSD, depression, and even suicide. In the middle are most people, who at first react with symptoms of depression and anxiety but within a month or so are, by physical and psychological measures, back where they were before the trauma. That is resilience. On the other end are people who show post-traumatic growth. They, too, first experience depression and anxiety, often exhibiting full-blown PTSD, but within a year they are better off than they were before the trauma. These are the people of whom Friedrich Nietzsche said, ‘That which does not kill us makes us stronger.’”

– Martin E.P. Seligman

Here’s what I say: Plan and prepare as we will, in the age of quick changes, there will always be a curve ball.    Click to Tweet!

Tell us: On the spectrum of resilience, where do you usually fall? How full is your glass?


  1. Hey Jodi, my glass is definitely quite full. lol… In fact, I’m so positive that people say that I’m naive and silly. But to me, I would rather live a happy, positive life than struggle and be unhappy. There will always be obstacles and challenges in business and life no matter how big or small your dream is. So why not dream bigger? Challenges help me grow and I love having them. 🙂

  2. Nice “learned helplessness” reference Jodi. Great reminder!
    I love what my friend Larry Winget says about glasses being either half full or half empty… Who cares as long as it quenches your thirst.

  3. Great post that is chock full of nuggets to help me really think about what might be holding me back at times. I have the resilience down pretty good, however, a good reminder now and than is very helpful. Sitting back, putting some space in between myself and a problem, definitely helps me to gain a new perspective, so I really like this advise too!

  4. Resilience is so key! A leader who has endurance with optimism is unstoppable and you first statement is priceless. This is an excellent post, thank you for sharing.

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