Adventurous Leadership: being the resilient, every-day learner

Exploring the need for effective leaders of change to be resilient and every-day learners, like adventurers are.

Change is constant.

And it’s not in the gift of any leader to control. But it is in the gift of every leader to decide how they, and their organisation, experience and respond to it.

Some leaders will ignore it, fight it or try and make it stop.

The very best leaders will have anticipated it and be agile and flexible enough to reap the benefits of it.

They know that life is full of challenges and it’s their capacity to cope with challenge and change that ultimately determines both their professional success and the success of the business they lead.

Just like adventurers on an expedition, the very best leaders demonstrate resilience and a strong tolerance to adversity.

What is Resilience?

Resilience is the ability to meet adversity, setbacks and trauma, and then recover in a way that allows you to live life fully.

Resilient leaders can sustain their energy levels under pressure to cope with disruptive changes and adapt.

They bounce back from setbacks and overcome major difficulties without blaming or harming others in the process.


  • Look at mistakes and failures as opportunities to learn and grow from, to help develop and make personal positive changes.
  • Are flexible, recognising that things do change and that it’s OK to amend or change plans.
  • Create perspective and take control, focusing on issues that can be controlled, don’t over-react and view difficulties as a challenge to overcome.

A leader who is resilient knows where they are strong, and they know where they need to develop.

They have self-awareness and insight to recognise what takes them from pressure to stress  – and how to manage those feelings and responses in the moment.

They have confidence in who they are and what they do and, as a result, will always find a way through uncertainty, change and even crisis.

They recognise that a foundation of resilience is the difference between faltering or flourishing and recognise the importance of cultivating it in themselves to advance and thrive.

Why Resilient Leaders are also committed to continuous learning

There’s a famous Chinese proverb that says: “Learning is like rowing upstream; not to advance is to drop back.”

All leaders need to make sure they are constantly learning – updating their skills and capabilities and their self-development. But a surprising number of leaders dismiss learning, believing there’s no need for it because they’ve reached the top!

You can argue that the nuts and bolts of leadership roles in organisations might not change very much at all – but the world in which leaders lead and business operate has changed so much and continues to change on an almost daily basis.

The marketplace and business arena are constantly evolving. Changing dynamics in competitors, the digital revolution, new laws and global impacts on the economy make continuous learning a vital modern leadership skill.

Leadership is therefore more than just the technical skills to do the job – leaders need to also be able to imagine and predict the future and how they will cope with the challenges their industry will face.

What exactly does this mean?

Truly successful leaders never stop learning. They prioritise personal and professional development because they know it’s the key to not just staying at the top of their company but also at the top of their game.

In fact, there’s a golden thread uniting those who are committed to learning.

They learn:

  • on the go – through everyday experiences
  • by reflection, looking back and assessing the outcomes of actions, ready to adapt their approach next time
  • through looking around them, listening to others – peers, colleagues, clients, suppliers and using everyday conversations and experiences to explore better ways of working.

A leader’s ability to ask the right questions plus their capacity to listen and learn, are essential in our modern world where the sheer pace and magnitude of disruption requires dynamic forward thinking, rather than a reliance on old habits

Often, adventurers and successful leaders will demonstrate their resilience and commitment to learning in the same ways – whether that’s during an expedition or in a professional business setting.

  • They won’t hide from challenge or difficulties, instead choosing to face problems head on
  • They’re calm and they don’t panic, appreciating that their response sets the tone for how others will react and behave.
  • Anticipating change and uncertainty are second nature so they have a high tolerance and adapt quickly.
  • They effectively communicate with people across all levels which instils confidence in their leadership.
  • Above all, they’re committed to learning from every decision and every outcome.

It can be a challenge to know where to start to become more resilient and adopt the skills we’ve described when it comes to learning.

JFA’s Adventurous Leadership programme supports executives and leaders to explore their own ‘spirit of adventure’, attitudes, skills and strategies needed to create a thriving culture of change and innovation to lead their organisation to greater success in the stunning setting of an international residential

Come and join us on a voyage of discovery and conquer your leadership potential!

We’ll provide the guide, the compass and the route map, leaving you to focus completely on your experience.

For more information about our Adventurous Leadership programmes, simply gives us a ring or drop us a line – see our contacts below on the website.

Follow Us

We’re on & , say hello!

Get in Touch

Jane Fisher Associates
01904 215 377 07837 024 374
Jane Fisher Associates Ltd
Studio 2, Allendale Forge Studios
Market Place
Allendale Town
Nr Hexham
NE47 9BD