In nearly 20 years working to evaluate executives, I have seen that active coping is an attribute of a healthy personality structure. This means that the “activity” is not always overt and observable; sometimes it takes place internally, in decisions made, visions developed, and conflicting drives resolved. An active coping stance, however, often gives rise to certain observable traits and skills. These should be sought out in anyone being courted to run a business. They include:
- Awareness. Active copers are able to see reality, including their own needs, capabilities, and limitations.
- Courage. Active copers are brave. They seek out new experiences; they are not intimidated by challenges.
- Resiliency, toughness, and the ability to learn from experience. Active copers, like all humans, make mistakes. Life is too complicated to anticipate every possible contingency. Active copers regroup and recover.
- Energy, fortitude, and the willingness to persevere. Active copers summon the energy to continue to move forward even under the most trying circumstances.
- Resourcefulness. Active copers invent solutions to problems by creatively pulling together the resources they have at hand or by developing new ones.
- Decisiveness. Active coping gives a person the fortitude to handle conflicts among competing goals. Making a choice means giving up an alternative. Active copers face that loss and move on.
- Executing a Plan. Active coping involves planning. Active copers anticipate, strategize, and weigh the risks of potential actions. Then they act. Active coping combines introspection and action.
These are the kinds of traits active copers show and business leaders need to have for dealing well with fast-changing and always uncertain situations.