Fragility and Resiliency – Vital Attributes of Leadership

Often, leaders see decisiveness and strength as the primary characteristics of leadership. The reality is that leadership is more complicated and nuanced than these two attributes. Among the many qualities leaders need, fragility and resilience emerge as essential and distinct yet interconnected. In today’s ever-evolving, ever-disrupting landscape of challenges, a leader must navigate uncertainty, adapt to change, and inspire others to follow suit. Understanding the delicate balance between fragility and resilience becomes paramount for effective leadership.

This article delves into the nuanced interplay between fragility and resilience and explores how these seemingly opposing characteristics coexist and contribute to effective leadership.

What is Fragility in Leadership

Fragility in leadership does not imply weakness; it acknowledges the vulnerability inherent in facing today’s business challenges. Leaders who recognize their fragility are more likely to remain open to learning, receptive to feedback, and adaptable to change. Embracing vulnerability fosters a culture of trust and transparency within teams, as it humanizes the leader and makes them relatable. This self-awareness allows them to connect more authentically with their team, fostering an environment of trust and transparency.

Being open to feedback, the leader acknowledges areas for improvement and demonstrates a willingness to learn from setbacks. This vulnerability cultivates a culture where team members feel comfortable expressing their concerns and ideas, creating a collaborative and innovative work environment.

Resilience in Leadership

On the other hand, resilience is the ability to rebound from setbacks, learn from failures, and maintain a forward-looking perspective. Resilient leaders possess the mental fortitude to endure challenges without losing sight of their vision. They view adversity not as a roadblock but as an opportunity for growth and improvement.

Resilience in leadership is not about personal strength but extends to the entire team and organization. A resilient leader cultivates a resilient culture, fostering an environment where individuals are empowered to overcome obstacles collectively. This shared resilience strengthens the organizational culture, making it more adaptable to change and better prepared for future challenges.

The Fragility/Resilience Paradox

The relationship between fragility and resilience is symbiotic. Leaders who are aware of their fragility are better positioned to develop resilience within themselves and their teams. Vulnerability becomes a source of strength, allowing leaders to connect with others and build trust.

Resilience is the backbone of effective leadership. Resilient leaders can bounce back from setbacks, learn from failures, and adapt to change. In a fast-paced and unpredictable business environment, resilience is a vital quality that enables leaders to navigate challenges gracefully and determinedly. Moreover, resilience encourages a growth mindset within the team, fostering a culture that values learning and continuous improvement.

When these qualities are in balance, the leader becomes a role model for the team. They can empathize with their team’s challenges while providing the strength and resilience needed to overcome obstacles. This symbiotic relationship allows leaders to navigate the complexities of the modern workplace with authenticity and effectiveness.

Practical Steps to Finding the Fragility/Resiliency Balance

  1. Embrace Vulnerability – Leaders should acknowledge and openly communicate their vulnerabilities to the team. This fosters an environment where team members feel comfortable sharing their challenges, creating a culture of trust and transparency.
  2. Learn from Failure – Resilient leaders view failure as an opportunity for growth. They encourage a culture that learns from mistakes rather than dwelling on them. This mindset creates a forward-looking atmosphere where the team is motivated to take calculated risks and innovate.
  3. Adaptability is Key – Leaders must adapt to a rapidly changing business environment. Resilience enables leaders to navigate change confidently, while fragility ensures they remain open to feedback and diverse perspectives during adaptation. These attributes allow leaders to guide their teams through transitions with confidence and agility.
  4. Build Trust and Authenticity – Fragility in leadership establishes trust and authenticity, as team members see their leader as human rather than infallible. This transparency creates a supportive culture where individuals are more likely to take risks and contribute to the organization’s collective success.
  5. Foster Innovation – Fragile leaders set the stage for innovation by being open to diverse perspectives and ideas. Resilience, in turn, encourages a culture where failures are seen as learning opportunities rather than deterrents, fostering creativity and out-of-the-box thinking.
  6. Effective Decision-making – The combination of fragility and resilience enhances decision-making. Fragility ensures leaders consider different viewpoints and potential flaws in their decisions, while resilience provides the courage to make tough choices and handle the consequences.

Leadership is a nuanced journey that requires a delicate balance of attributes. Fragility and resilience, when harmoniously integrated, create leaders who are effective in their decision-making and problem-solving, compassionate, and relatable. In the dance between fragility and resilience, leaders find the strength to lead authentically, inspire their teams, and navigate the complexities of the modern professional landscape. As we continue to redefine leadership in the 21st century, the synergy of these attributes will undoubtedly play a pivotal role in shaping successful and sustainable leadership practices.


Rich Jones is the Founder/Principal of Leading2Leadership LLC. Before starting his strategic planning agency, he spent over 20 years in leadership roles in the financial services sector. Before becoming an executive in the financial services sector, Rich was an entrepreneur, building and selling two businesses and working for early-stage start-up companies in executive roles in marketing, business development, and seeking investment partners. With more than three decades of experience, he brings innovative thought to companies and executives. Rich published “Leading2Leadership, a Situational Primer to Leadership Excellence.” The book is available on and was designed to be used as a book study for leadership development programs; it breaks leadership skills into manageable situations for discussion and reflection. Rich works with credit unions, CUSOs, and vendors, designing digital, data, culture, marketing, and branding transformation strategies. In 2014, Chosen as a Credit Union Rock Star by CU Magazine, and in 2018, Rich received the Lifetime Achievement Award from CUNA Marketing and Business Development Council. A Marine and graduate of Colorado State University, Jones shares his expertise at

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