Resilience is a Necessary Leadership Quality

Resilience is a Necessary Leadership Quality

August 8, 2016
Annette Maggi
Business Skills

By RDBA Executive Director, Annette Maggi, MS, RDN, LD, FAND

When asked to define leadership traits needed for success in retail, dietitians will often mention communication expertise, initiative, authority, and people management skills. As a career path that is still relatively new in the broader landscape, resilience is a quality essential for success as a retail dietitian. Every week, I talk with retail RDs who are getting program ideas shot down, requests for additional head count denied, or new bosses placed above them. Resiliency is the skill that helps you thrive in an environment where these situations are common occurrences. 

By definition, resiliency is the ability to adapt and bounce back when things don’t go as planned.  It’s the ability to acknowledge a situation or decision, learn from mistakes, and move forward. It’s letting go and knowing when to move on, without wallowing in or dwelling on failures.

There are three elements that are essential to resilience:

  • Challenge. Look at a difficulty as a challenge, not as a paralyzing or permanent event. Consider what lessons can be learned from a frustrating situation, and avoid seeing a made decision as a reflection on your abilities or self-worth. For example, if your request for additional dietitian head count was denied, it doesn’t mean you can’t submit the ask at a later date in the future. Or that you can’t request temporary or consultant help on specific projects. Those with resilience assess the situation and learn from it, pivoting to other options and staying focused on long term goals and business objectives.
  • Commitment. You have to love what you do and be excited to get out of bed every morning, looking forward to the day ahead. You have to be committed to your work in the long haul, knowing there might be bumps along the way but maintaining focus on the bigger picture and successes that are achieved.  
  • Control What You Can. Spend your time and energy focused on situations, events, and programs that you have control over. Being driven and concentrating on projects where you can have the most impact will help you feel empowered and confident. Having established and agreed upon goals will help you stay focused on the bigger picture and aligned with a clear direction. Remember to treat each situation as an individual event vs. piling them on top of each other as it will prevent you from feeling like a victim on the job and from doubting your abilities.  

Establishing a new role and its benefit is challenging in any environment, but the pace and ongoing staff transitions in retail make it even more important for dietitians to develop resiliency skills.