10 Ways to Be Resourceful as a Leader
In this article we explore 10 ways you can be more ‘resourceful’ as a leader by changing the way you see yourself and by cultivating new practices to renew your sense of energy, enthusiasm and hope. Follow our advice to achieve more with your teams and stakeholders. Use the questions we pose to help reveal what’s at the heart of your frustrations and concerns. We’d love to hear what changes for you through what we share.
Let’s begin by defining ‘resourceful’ in the context of leading. The obvious definition is using the resources you have in an efficient and effective way to reach the goals that matter most for you. For us, this cannot be separate from the way you ‘show up’ as a leader. That is, the way you ‘think about’ yourself as a leader; the way you interact, listen to and engage with others; the mood you generate as a leader; the environment you establish for your team to flourish and the way you expresses these attributes physically.
So, here are our top 10 ways to be resourceful as a leader
- Create a constructive story
If we asked you to write a story about your what’s happening for you as leader, the concerns you face, the challenges and frustrations, what would that sound like?
Here’s a typical story: “This job is driving me insane! My boss Mike doesn’t listen to me and does not value me or my ideas. He’s only interested in himself. None of my great ideas are taken seriously. My team doesn’t deliver on time and I am sick of copping the blame both ways!”
A story is not a fact, it is an interpretation or judgement. These kinds of stories typically produce a feeling, blame, a sense of helplessness and hopelessness or frustration.
Your story is based on your unique way of interpreting what has happened to you, around you and the way you see the situation, others and yourself as being impacted.
If your story is a negative one, the good news is that you can change it. The way you see things is generated by you! Being resourceful as a leader requires you to first see that the way you’re seeing things can be the issue in itself.
You can begin asking yourself if there are other ways to interpret what’s happening and if there are, it can help to switch the negative phrases with more neutral or generative ones.
For example: “This job is challenging! I have not been able to make the space for Mike to hear my view yet, and that means I am doubting my own value. He’s seems to have other concerns. I wonder how I can make a time to share my ideas in a way that engages him? That might give me more confidence to lead the team in a shared direction.”
When you ‘try on’ new ways of interpreting what’s happening you can open possible future conversations. Compare the first and second narrative we shared and you will see that the second one creates a range of different opportunities based on a more effective interpretation or story. Reinterpreting your story then becomes a choice. This is one of the most ‘resourceful’ moves any leader can make.
- Reveal your standards
For whatever story you have been generating up to now, it is important to know how it has formed. In our example before, it was probably not ‘caused’ by Mike (even if we feel it was), but by the way our ‘example leader’ has historically read and interpreted their world.
Consider that from the time you’re conscious, you are interpreting your world. What you like and don’t like. What’s right and wrong. What makes you feel good and bad. Influences from early life, particularly family and culture play a huge role in shaping these interpretations.
Early education and work experiences equally shape the ‘standards’ we adopt, and we use our judgements of what’s right and wrong to navigate life, most often unconsciously. In adopting these ‘worldviews’, over time, we develop ‘standards’ and these play out when things don’t go our own way. We just want the world to conform and do it our way!
Is this ringing true?
If so, what standards of yours are not being met and where did they come from? How long have these been with you in life and are they serving you for the next steps you want to take in leadership and life? If you can’t change others to meet your standards, would you consider revisiting your standards and learning about them?
You see, you ‘own’ your standards. They have been with you for a long time, and in revealing them, you also have the power to change them.
- Recognise your mood
So, what is a mood and what does a mood have to do with being resourceful as a leader?
Moods are predispositions for action you recurrently find yourself in. The key word here is recurrent. Moods typically reflect the ‘story’ or narrative you have about yourself and the world – typically founded in a long-standing narrative that you have been living with and in for some time (yes, a story).
Quite simply, the quality of your story impacts and generates your mood. Some moods and emotions predispose, open you, or incline you towards certain actions and others have the opposite effect.
Moods are generated by the way you think about and talk about yourself and typically follow your habitual thinking patterns. This is an inner dialogue which plays out in the way you speak, think and feel about your future and what is /what is not possible.
To discover your mood, begin by asking whether you are opposing what’s happening around you, or are you in more of an accepting mood? If you’re opposing, you might find yourself feeling frustrated, angry, feeling no hope, or feeling anxious and wanting to control matters. Conversely, if you’re in a more accepting space, you might find yourself feeling open to what’s happening, actively searching for opportunities despite what’s presented, in a space of curiosity, or wonder or feeling as though you’re ready to meet the challenge.
Do you want to remain in the opposing position, or would you prefer to be more able to ‘go with’ what’s happening in an adventurous mindset?
- Shift your Mood
If you have discovered your mood is more opposing by nature, that’s OK. It need not be this way, and there are ways you can shift it. In order to shift your mood, you’ll need to be willing to revisit the narrative you’re generating, and this can be tough. You might have been living with this story and built your identity around it for some time and it can be difficult to see the story you’ve been living from, for perhaps a lifetime.
We have a few questions you can use as a self-coaching option to help shift your mood. This process begins by tuning in and being present, and then following the questions in a deliberate way to identify a new way of seeing an old situation, event or person.
- What is happening for me now, in this moment?
- What is happening around my body?
- What story or assessment am I telling myself about the situation?
- Is what I am telling myself absolutely true?
- What other ways might explain this situation?
- What am I opposing/fighting against – what am I not accepting?
- How would it be for me ‘now’ if I stopped opposing or fighting against the situation?
- Is it possible for me to accept what’s happening?
- What mood I am now present to?
By asking these questions in succession, and really challenging your own story, you can begin an important mood migration. This will help you ‘show up’ resourcefully.
- ‘Show up’ in a resourceful way
How you ‘show up’ as a leader matters, since your body or physiology is always a reflection of the story you’re in and the mood that follows. Think of someone you’ve worked with in the past who tends to oppose new ways and shut down any of your good ideas. Their body will likely reflect this in some way. It’s either rigid and tight or slumped and lacking energy, embodying a mood of opposition. Now, think of someone you know that loves new ideas and is always opening possibilities. The way they show up is likely to be more upright, energetic and agile.
How do you want to show up? What kind of leader would you follow? Are you a Leader that shows up confident, open, upright and influential? If not, what kind of story would create a body like this?
When a constructive story, accepting mood and engaged body are aligned you ‘show up’ far more powerfully and resourcefully as a leader!
- Declare a new future
A declaration is a statement we make that shapes our future, so long as we have the authority and capacity to bring that new future to life.
You can make declarations about your own future, emerging or changing circumstances to produce your “new reality” and by working to bring this about, become far more resourceful as a leader.
Every person has the authority to make statements about how they want their life to be – occupation, relationships, future events, and material aspirations. Examples include:
- “I’m going to apply for the promotion!”
- “I’m going to lose 5kg by training for this year’s Thailand 500km bike ride.”
- “I am going to support my team’s skill development over the coming 12 months.”
- “We are going to identify 3 acquisition prospects by July next year.”.
These are all declarations that an individual can make and in making them we immediately impact how we see and act in our future.
You can shape and design important parts of your life through declarations, especially when you ensure you have a support system in place to assist you to bring the statement to fruition.
What declarations come to mind for you, in the future you want to create? What constructive story will enable that? What helpful mood? What standards will support your declaration? And how will you show up to bring this to life?
- Get in conversation and generate your new reality
Moving towards a more resourceful ‘way of being’ can be a significant interruption to the ‘way’ you once were. As you let go of unhelpful narratives, change your moods, ‘show up’ constructively and make new declarations to generate possibilities, those around you might notice a big change.
Now that you have a declaration, and a more constructive story to ‘live into’, it’s time to get in conversations and bring about your new reality. If you’ve shifted from an old and unhelpful story towards a new one, consider there may be some conversations you should have to ‘clear’ any residual or historical concerns and generate a new kind of relationship grounded in trust and possibility.
It can also be helpful to socialise your declarations. That means, if you’ve made a declaration, by sharing it with relevant people in conversation and enlisting their support, you might more readily bring your commitment to life. They may find innovative and novel ways to support you and your goals. Do you give yourself permission to generate a new reality for yourself?
- Enhance your listening skills
Listening is a meaning making and relating activity that can greatly enhance your resourcefulness and ability to influence as a leader. Listening includes the silent conversations inside your head, that shape and influence what you listen to and how you interpret what you hear. It therefore involves hearing and interpreting to create meaning.
Listening provides an opportunity to co-invent the future with others through every conversation that you as a leader are engaged in. Listening is also a skill we take for granted, failing to see our own bias and prejudice, which is influenced by our frame of reference (our life’s journey, our past learnings and experiences). We fail to understand our unhelpful listening habits.
To begin to develop more constructive listening habits, try the following 3 tips:
- Consciously choose how you listen to what the other person is trying to communicate, rather than listening to your own thoughts about what they are saying.
- Begin to observe how you create meaning for yourself, your interactions and relationships with others and the environment.
- Spend time in reflection, exploring your life experiences – especially those that predispose you to anticipating or ‘already knowing’ how life and events ‘should’ play out. These listening practices open moods of acceptance and wonder, generating new possibilities through ‘being’ resourceful.
9. Invest in your wellbeing
Think of this slogan “eat well, move well, think well”. We wholly agree. If you’re not feeling your best, you can’t be performing your best in terms of mood or thinking. Therefore, you cannot be resourceful.
Pay attention to the way you tend to your body. Food and water are building blocks for your sustained mood, concentration and performance. When it comes to water aim for two litres each and every day and cut out drinks that are sweet or sugary. In terms of food, a diet rich with nutritious, whole food – organic where you can – will provide you the fuel to sustain your performance. This means planning ahead for those times you tend to grab quick snacks and opting for a low GI alternative to anything processed when the munchies set in.
In terms of movement try mixing up your cardio with movement that enhances your flexibility, strength and quality of breath like yoga and Pilates. Exercising at least 3 times a week for say 40 minutes per session is part of our resourceful success formula. On Friday night, instead of heading to the local bar, try some other way to decompress from your week – a massage, or if your adventurous, try a sound bath!
Finally sleep. Most of us need 7-8 hours to perform well. That means making it a priority.
If you think you know all this, it’s not a matter of knowing it. It’s a matter of organising your schedule to make these pillars a priority – put these blocks in your diary BEFORE your meetings. It can be helpful to have someone else support your commitment at home or at work by joining in your new practices and helping keep you accountable. Try to start your weekly planning by making sure your basic pillars for energy and vitality are in place to give yourself the best chance of being resourceful!
- Scan your operating context regularly
Any resourceful leader is paying attention to their operating context. This means understanding the historical patterns that have influenced your industry, scanning other industries, looking at trends and patterns and investing time each week in conversations that reveal an emerging future.
It can help for you to gain exposure via social groups, conferences and international networks that have a different orientation to your traditional roots and to explore the deeper ideologies that lie behind the assumptions of operating your business.
This will likely confront you, provoke you, evoke discomfort and unfamiliar emotions and moods on occasion. You might even question your future trajectory. This is healthy and necessary. It will help you identify new questions to ask and open you to the new possibilities in the future that is always re-configuring itself.