Have you ever been stuck in a problem for so long that you begin to doubt your ability to solve it for good? There are wide range of characteristics like self-belief, discipline, dedication, hard-work, confidence and so on that are important for a leader, but when it comes to one trait that everyone would want in their leader is resourcefulness—the ability to adapt and solve problems creatively and to turn challenges into opportunities.
Being resourceful and having resources are two very different things. Just having resources might not make you a resourceful leader. Resources are what we use to fulfil a task, like ideas, money, people, time and so on. These are infinite resources. You have them or you don’t. Being resourceful on the other hand is a way of being, thinking and doing. And in the context of leading it is not separate from the way you show up as a leader—the way you lead, interact, listen and engage with others to establish an environment for others to learn and grow.
So, in a way it’s more useful to know how to be resourceful than have resources. Having resourceful mindset is especially important when you are guiding or helping your team solve difficult problems. By being more resourceful, one can develop the mental agility to think outside of the box to find efficient ways to overcome challenges.
“A resourceful person will always makes opportunity fit his or her needs.”—Napoleon HillTweet
So, What do resourceful leaders have in common?
They come up with their own creative ways. Resourceful leaders have the ability to come up with creative ways to solve the problem themselves and don’t feel the need to wait for someone else to come along to help them. They make most of what is available to accomplish something despite problems or failures. In other words, they have the ability to get most from every situation they find themselves in with what resources they have.
They move past self-judgment. Resourcefulness is about taking initiative in difficult situations and moving past the judgment zone. Instead of feeling sorry for themselves, they stay curious, optimistic and determined. They naturally adapt to adversity by asking themselves, What makes this challenging? What else could I try? What can I do differently to overcome this?
They are comfortable with not having or knowing. It is always possible that one doesn’t have access to all of the resources all of the time. For instance, external resources like tools, people, data or technology and so on. A resourceful leader however is comfortable with not knowing and uses his her strengths to stay resourceful in the face of adversity. For resourceful people, there is no such thing as limited resources, but only opportunities for innovation.
They are okay with not having everything figured out at times. Resourceful people don’t have to have all the answers before they begin. They tap into their inner resources— attributes, traits, and skills they have at their disposal, which gives them access to creative ideas so they can see things from a different perspective.
They focus on possibilities rather than downsides. Resourceful people are constantly looking for ways to transform the way things are for them. And focus on upside and on what’s possible. They look for creative ways so as to leverage their current situation for maximum benefit beyond quick fixes and short-term gain. And have the ability to visualise all the possible ways to achieve what they desire.
What do you need to be resourceful?
Here are some internal resources that are important to enhance your resourcefulness.
Focus on getting things done through strong network of people and other external resources.
Persistence and mental toughness in problem-solving abilities.
Creative and driven to take initiative or to be part of creating and finding solution.
Open-mindedness to redefine what is possible and what is not.
Ability to consider different perspectives, possibilities, people and views to broaden your perspective.
Willingness to get out of your comfort-zone and learn from things that are new and different.
Self-belief that you are competent and adequate enough to get things done.
Ability to think outside of the box and come up with innovative solutions to problems.
Ability to anticipate, assess, and evaluate when a challenging situation comes your way.
Adaptable so that you don’t box yourself into doing things in a particular way.
Consistency and discipline to practice productive habits to get things done despite obstacles.
‘Optimistic and positive attitude that the solution is easier to find.
How to improve your resourcefulness
Resourcefulness is a key leadership skill. And is especially relevant when the goals you have set are difficult to achieve. It is determined by your ability to reach out to your external and internal resources to effectively deal with difficult problems or situations. Whether you are an entrepreneur running business, or managing a group of people who are looking to get ahead, here are few ways to develop a resourceful mindset.
Work on your available resources
Our resourcefulness relies heavily on momentum we can build in achieving our goals and one such momentum builder is to identify the unproductive habits and behaviours that aren’t helpful. In order to become more resourceful, limit or eliminate counterproductive habits while enforcing new habits that help you endure discomfort, uncertainty, or challenges.
Think about your counterproductive behaviours that are keeping you from making most of your time, focus and energy. By taking stock of your available resources like time, effort and productive habits, you can identify where you are falling short and make adjustments, so you won’t feel stuck in un-resourceful habits.
Do you often pack too many things in short amounts of time? Are you stuck in any of unproductive behaviours?Do you have difficulty managing your priority tasks? Is your available skill set adequate to complete your tasks on time?
Reflecting on these lines will help you uncover more of your resourceful mindset. Decluttering your to-do’s and having your next action defined, you remove certain obstacles to getting started and focus on getting real results.
Anticipate possible problems
You cannot anticipate everything but you can look for potential problems that might get in the way of your goals. The more you prepare ahead of time, the more resources you will have when faced with a problem. These resources can be your skills, knowledge base and your support network. This way, you can build a toolkit of resources that you can turn to and use when you need them most.
For many leaders, certainty reigns supreme. As a leader, when you come across uncertain circumstances, it can be quite difficult to do more with what is available. Anticipating the likely problems can make you better prepared. Your inner resources like focus, previous experience, attention, expertise from other people or ideas based on your knowledge can be valuable resources to rely upon.
What goals are you working toward? What could potentially go wrong as you work toward these goals? What resources might be of value as you work towards them? Do you have these resources at disposal and if not how will you acquire them?
Asking yourself these questions can provide clarity about the type of problems you might potentially face along the way and thus can make you more prepared.
Assess the situation
Evaluate when challenging situation comes your way. Be clear about what you can achieve by making most of the situation given the external resources that you currently have at your disposal with the support of your internal resources.
Reflecting on how you might deal with a problem and then actually solving it when it arises might not always match-up. How you thought things would be might not reflect how things are in real life. Determine the real issue to come up with useful resources.
Assess the situation by asking yourself, What was the cause of this problem? What can potentially be done to solve this problem? Has anyone solved a similar problems like this before? Who could potentially help you to overcome this? What valuable resources could these people have that you could use to solve your problem?
Have the ability to leverage to use what others bring into the situation. Look for some viable solutions that you could try to solve when there is no assistance from people. Once you assess the situation, you can find the relevant resources and look specifically how you can apply them to your present situation
Devise creative solutions
Being resourceful requires you to tap into your resources more creatively. Know the difference between seeking resources and being really resourceful.
Think creatively to utilise the tools and resources that are within your reach. Do you have access to or could you obtain anything that might help with the situation? You should remember that resources aren’t only tools or objects, they also include skills, people or emotional states, knowledge, opportunities as well.
Take a stock of your current resources and find creative ways to apply them in problem-solving. Ask yourself, If you apply this idea, what could be possible? What potential insight can be gained from taking this course of action? What new path could this lead you to?
Seeing the situation you face from an alternate perspective leads you to a new course of action that you hadn’t considered before.
Shift your perspective
Thinking about the big picture can shift your perspective to be more open-minded in problem-solving. Decide what you can do in short-term so you can take action and be more productive.
Revise specific tasks, roles and responsibilities towards your goals. Seeking information on the work that you are trying to get done or researching and reading will provide necessary insights you need to tweak your approach.
Reflect on—What the nature of the problem is? What is really needed? Is this truly a crisis or merely an inconvenience or setback? Does it need to be addressed immediately, or can it wait for an appropriate solution? Is there another way to solve? How effectively did you solve a problem similar to this in the past?
Seeing every problem as an opportunity to solve can help you shift your perspective and strengthen your internal resources and drive to get your desired outcome.
Self-reflection questions to improve your resourcefulness.
On a scale of one to ten, How would you rate your level of resourcefulness?
What resources do you already have and how can you use them better?
Where can you potentially be more resourceful?
What kind of internal resources should you focus on building to improve your resourcefulness?
In what ways could you be more creative with the expertise, skills and experience you already have?
What productive habits will improve your resourcefulness?
Your resourcefulness is a valuable resource when it comes to getting things done and is directly proportional to your ability to lead, influence and achieve high quality results. It is not about having more resources, but it’s more about being more resourceful with what you have. And it is best attained when you combine the resourceful mindset and leadership skills.
Also if an opportunity presents itself, you cannot hold yourself back looking for right resources or people to show up. Instead of thinking of what you do not have, knowing what it means to be resourceful can improve your resourcefulness and make most of what there is when an opportunity comes up.
“There is no problem too big that cannot be solved and no opportunity too small if you develop a resourceful mindset.”
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