There is a crisis. You are working longer hours. You need to set an example and not let go. You need to demonstrate that you merit the title of leader; go the extra mile, stay vigilant, shoulder the responsibility. After all, you are being paid to lead. Exceptional times require an exceptional response and behaving this way is what being a resilient leader is all about. Isn’t it ????

When the going gets tough, leaders often feel a duty to appear stronger, wiser and invulnerable. But that may not be how those around you need you to be. In fact, your people are much more likely to need a leader who is calm, empathetic, communicative and forward-looking. Flexibility is central to resilience. Yes, it is about staying focused but not being so single-minded that the rigid path you are on leads you into more trouble. Resilience is about taking an open and honest approach rather than being tight-lipped and above all, it is about enabling others to take care of themselves.

Here are six simple tips for being a resilient leader in difficult times.

1. Face reality

The last place your people need you be right now is in denial. Be true to yourself and to others about the real situation. Tell the truth, keep it simple and don’t run from the facts. People will respect you for your honesty even if they don’t like the message. You will also retain your integrity.

2. Communicate

If you don’t communicate, others will assume the worst. In difficult times, no news is bad news. Keep everyone updated and informed. Use informal as well as formal channels of communication. Above all, don’t make the common error of assuming that ‘they won’t be able to handle it’. Protection from what is really going on is no protection at all – it’s infantalisation. People need information so that they are equipped to protect themselves.

3. Stay focused

Staying focused on the needs of today will help those around you to maintain energy levels and offer an ongoing sense of achievement and stability amidst a crisis. Set tangible goals with shorter time frames than usual. Small victories help maintain self-esteem and confidence.

4. Stay human

Most people will appreciate that these times are unlikely to be any easier for you than they are for them and that you will have your own worries and concerns. In challenging times, leaders can feel isolated. Don’t act the hero, feigning invincibility. Look for ways of partnering with peers and colleagues. Resilient leaders empathise and one way to do that is to share some of your own feelings and concerns.

5. Help build perspective

Few times are so awful, that nothing positive is happening. Human beings can feel overwhelmed by ongoing negative interpretations of circumstances. People need your help to remember that there was life before this situation and there will be life after it too. Help them to talk through their fears for the future – that way you are helping them to surface the things undermining their confidence and their belief in their own ability to handle the situation.

6. Look after yourself

It is easy to get caught up being all things to all people when you are in a leadership position and times are tough. But remember you will only be able to look out for others if you are looking after yourself. Resilience requires you to care for own health and wellbeing, work reasonable hours, make time to talk with your family and friends, and create a vision of your own future.

Above all, resilient leaders will be staying true to themselves, identifying what they can control and letting go of the rest. They will also be taking time out, whatever their situation, to reflect upon the fact that ‘this too will pass’.