Key Leadership Quality, and a Strategy, For When You’re Hit By A Tonne of Bricks

Yelling man in ssuit looking at laptop

by Terry Wall

Adversity happens. It could be the account you didn’t land. Or the promotion given to that slacker in another department. Or even the proverbial load of bricks that falls on you. Adversity just happens.


Handling adversity is a crucial leadership skill, because it affects your performance, and the future of your business. This is true when bad things happen to your business, or to you personally.

Key Leadership Quality: Research indicates that one of the key predictors in telling whether a person will be good at insurance sales is resiliency.

If the person is adept at handling rejection, bounces back quickly, and doesn’t take rejection personally, that person will probably do well in insurance sales. This is because insurance sales involve a lot of rejection.

And in sales what is rejection? It’s adversity, the kind of setback we’re talking about. I believe what applies to sales, also applies to leadership. So, learn to be more resilient with adversity, and you’ll be a more effective leader.

A colleague of mine recently faced a mega-dose of adversity. He’s the president of a company that employs hundreds of people, and a major customer decided to do business elsewhere.

Talk about adversity! I think he’d have preferred the load of bricks.

His response was to analyse what happened, plot a strategy to ensure that the problem doesn’t recur, and develop a plan to replace the lost revenue. As he told me, you can’t brood over it or focus on it too much. Doing so distracts you from the pressing challenges ahead.

Since everyone looks to the leader for guidance and example, this leader had to keep people focused on moving ahead, rather than dwelling on the lost customer, the adversity.

Another colleague talked to me about sales, and lost sales, and how that kind of rejection (adversity) really stings.

Here’s the Strategy: Leaders learn from adversity, so I suggested that after every sales call he write down what went well, and what he could have improved on.

I don’t mean think about it. I don’t mean analyze it in your head. I mean write it down.

This reinforces those insights in your mind, so that you can transform those insights into action.

Writing them down also gives you a record of what you’ve been doing, so that you can periodically review this information to see if you’re improving. What’s measured gets done. What’s written down gets done, too.

The same applies to any area where you can find adversity. Or where adversity can find you. And adversity sometimes seems to have a way of locking onto us with all the precision of a laser-guided missile.

An important meeting or presentation. A phone conversation to close the deal. A merger or acquisition. Any important event requires a post-mortem, asking yourself what you did well, and what you could have done better.

It’s especially important when that event results in adversity.

What do you do when adversity strikes? How well do you analyze those setbacks? How often do you write down your analytical insights? How do you use those insights to improve your leadership performance?

About the author

Terry Wall–Accelerating Organizational Excellence through: Leadership Development, Facilitation & Strategic Direction, Team Building, Executive Coaching, Assessments & Surveys

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