Leadership Grit: Building Confidence and Resilience Through Challenges

Experts agree that resilience is key to overcoming challenges and living a successful and healthy life. While life circumstances often present adolescents with opportunities to build resilience, sometimes called grit, we can also encourage teens to accept challenges and work through difficult situations in order to grow their confidence and become more resilient.

According to Washington Psych Wellness, self-confidence and assurance are crucial during the teenage years. “When you’re a teenager with high self-confidence, you trust your own judgment, capabilities, and skills.  You are more likely to set goals and have ambitions, stand by your own convictions and beliefs, and not be swayed by peer pressure.” They list the benefits of self confidence as:

  • Improve self-esteem and self-worth. 
  • Reduce fear and anxiety
  • Increase life motivation
  • Have healthier relationships
  • Develop a stronger sense of self
  • Be okay with setbacks and failure

Confidence and Resilience Partnership

Resilience, the ability to adapt well in the face of hard times is a valuable skill for young adults, according to the American Psychological Association. Resilience is both a consequence and a cause of self-confidence and can be learned. They offer 10 Tips to Build Resilience:

  1. Get together. Talk with your friends and, yes, even with your parents. 
  2. Cut yourself some slack. When something bad happens in your life,…go a little easy on yourself, and on your friends.
  3. Create a hassle-free zone. Make your room or apartment…a haven free from stress and anxieties. 
  4. Stick to the program…During a time of major stress, map out a routine and stick to it.
  5. Take care of yourself. Be sure to take care of yourself—physically, mentally and spiritually. And get sleep. 
  6. Take control. Even in the midst of tragedy or great uncertainty, you can move toward goals one small step at a time. 
  7. Express yourself. If talking isn’t working, do something else to capture your emotions like start a journal, or create art.
  8. Help somebody. Nothing gets your mind off your own problems like solving someone else’s. 
  9. Put things in perspective. Think about the important things that have stayed the same, even while the outside world is changing.
  10. Turn it off. Watching a news report once informs you; watching it over and over again just adds to the stress and contributes no new knowledge.

Resilient Leadership

Taking on leadership roles can help teens build both resilience and confidence. Brent Gleason of Forbes.com writes, “Resilience provides the ability to recover quickly from change, hardship, or misfortune. It’s the product of a broad perspective…Resilience taps into your ability to adapt even as it relies on your own knowledge about yourself – your values, confidence, and optimism.”

As your child works through challenges with a group of their peers, they can learn the necessary skills and build the confidence to move past setbacks. The Harvard Business School provides 4 ways to build leadership resilience:

1. Reflect and Assess

Leaders need to have a strong understanding of themselves to successfully guide others through times of change and uncertainty.

2. Strive to Continuously Learn and Grow

Among the number of traits that characterize effective leadership, Koehn says resilience is one that can be honed and strengthened.

3. Be Purpose-Driven

Purpose is vitally important to work performance. According to a report by BetterUp Labs (pdf), performing meaningful work in support of a purpose leads to a host of benefits.

4. Cultivate Relationships

When facing seemingly insurmountable crises, trusted friends and colleagues can be a source from which leaders can draw strength and guidance.


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