Why Resilience is the Key to Success for Nonprofit Leaders

Leading a non-profit requires knowledge, experience, passion, compassion and hard work. But then why do so many leaders who apply these principles to their work often burn out? It’s because they’re missing another vital piece…resilience.

According to the book “Resilience That Works: Eight Practices for Leadership and Life”, resilience means more than just bouncing back when something doesn’t go as planned. Instead, it encourages the creation of a “resilience portfolio”. Much like a retirement plan, people can learn that resilience can and should include consistent physical, mental, and emotional practices. When put together, they not only make you feel better but also impact how others see how you do your job. Authors: Marian N. Ruderman, Cathleen Clerkin, Katya C. Fernandez

We’re going to explore these eight practices and how they can help non-profit leaders build their resilience.


8 Practices to Build Resilience

  1. Consistent Exercise

    We’re all probably guilty of saying that we’re just too busy to exercise. But, even getting just 15 minutes of physical exercise daily can not only help you stay fit but can also help to keep your mind sharp. The results can be seen in your work and your day-to-day interactions.

  2. Sleep

    Sleep deprivation can make you cranky and influence your mental processes. By keeping a consistent sleep and waking time, you’ll have a better chance of getting the rest you need to function to your fullest.

  3. Mindfulness

    Mindfulness can sometimes get confused with meditation. Mindfulness is being present in the moment while acknowledging other people’s feelings and thoughts. When you’re mindful, you’re not easily distracted and can focus on what’s going on.

  4. Cognitive Reappraisal

    When talking about cognitive reappraisal, it’s best described as saying “don’t jump to conclusions”. This is especially the case when it comes to employees and co-workers.

  5. Savoring

    If you practice savoring, you aim to prolong the positive. This can help you feel like you have more resources to draw from within when things get challenging.

  6. Gratitude

    You may have heard before that gratitude is the best attitude to have. When you’re thankful and expressing gratitude, it not only benefits you but also the person who you are thanking. It helps them to feel good about themselves while you’re also content with what you have received.

  7. Social Connection

    To be any type of leader, you need to invest in relationships. Making social connections can not only help your organization, but it can also benefit you by forming new relationships. Feeling connected to co-workers can help you do your job better and create a camaraderie that can be beneficial to the workplace environment.

  8. Touch

    When referring to touch in the workplace setting, contact needs to be appropriate. Touch can refer to a high-five or a pat on the back to let someone know they’ve done a good job. During the COVID pandemic, the benefits of touch were lost. But, feeling connected to co-workers in this manner can also be helpful.

The Bottom Line

As you consider all of these aspects of building resilience, it’s important to acknowledge that this takes time. It’s best to come up with a plan to make it happen and do it gradually. Over time, you’ll notice a difference in yourself and your leadership ability.

Learning resilience can also pour over into your personal life. By improving the quality of your sleep and making exercise part of your routine, you can lead a healthier life. You can also benefit from practicing more gratitude and savoring the positive things that happen. In the end, resilience can be beneficial in professional and personal aspects.

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