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Resilient Leadership

Do you recall how Johnson & Johnson handled the poison scare after seven Chicago-area residents died due to cyanide-laced Tylenol in 1982?

Did you realize that “Colonel Sanders”, founder of Kentucky Fried Chicken, only had a 6th grade education?

Can you picture a successful leader who lacks optimism?

Doug Strouse, Ph.D., author of The Secrets of Resilient Leadership: When Failure Is Not an Option, posed these 3 questions to our group of CEOs the other day.

Doug’s book details six key principles for resilient leadership. The three components he discussed with us were: integrity, perseverance, and optimisim.


To combat the Tylenol nightmare, Johnson & Johnson recalled every bottle of Tylenol at a ‘loss’ of millions. The outcome – a financial ‘gain’. First, there were no additional casualties. Second, the era of tampered-resistant medicine bottles began. Third, Tylenol regained consumer trust and strong market share.

Doug used this example to show that companies and their leaders that do the right thing exhibit one of the most important factors for resilient leadership – integrity.


Doug said that the best predictor of success is “never giving up”. It’s not about being a genius, it’s about tenacity. Colonel Sanders, without a list of initials after his name, went on to found one of the most successful food franchises in the world. On my recent trip to China, there seemed to be a KFC on every corner!

One of my clients, Linda Armstrong, Lance’s mother, speaks on how she never gave up. As a pregnant 16 year old without money or education, Linda persevered. She raised Lance against all odds. You should hear some of her stories on how she got sponsorship for Lance to bike in races when no one knew who that kid was! Linda never gave up. She’s an example of a resilient leader.


Doug defines optimism this way: “it’s not a predictor of the future, but an optimistic leader makes the future happen.” His research shows that where there is hope there is life. A resilient leader sees problems as temporary, not permanent. And then gets to work, one task at a time.

Doug was so convincing that I immediately bought his book. Go to www.wexleyconsulting.com to read more of Doug’s research studies.

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