Expanding the Role of Resolve in Leadership

Every definition or “resolve” that I could find seems to highlight that it is the ability to deal with situations successfully, to make an issue clear or understandable, or to reach a firm decision about something on our minds. Each definition places us on a path of action, to find an answer to, or to move forward.

As I started writing this blog on “resolve,” I was thinking of my own ability to reach firm decisions on those things that I need to complete as we end 2023 and prepare for 2024 – resolving to use the ideas discussed and proven in courses such as time management, project management, and communication skills. Yet as I was writing, it seemed to fall flat, as if I was missing a strategic thought or idea.

“We shall prove ourselves once more able to defend our Island Home, to ride out the storm of war, and to outlive the menace of tyranny, if necessary for years, if necessary, alone…That is the resolve of His Majesty’s Government – every man of them. That is the will of Parliament and the nation.”

Winston Churchill’s “We Shall Fight Them on the Beaches”

Then, as I was driving across the state of Michigan, I heard a replay of Winston Churchill’s “We Shall Fight Them on the Beaches” speech, and it immediately became clear what the missing strategic thought was. Yes, resolve is the ability to deal with situations successfully, to make an issue clear or understandable, or to reach a firm decision. Yet in my mind, it defines so much more. For me, the word “resolve” describes the decisions about those items that are larger than our everyday goals and objectives—those items around which we have built our fundamental beliefs and values.

As I pondered my interpretations of the word, it occurred to me that the very tools we use to surmount our everyday goals and objectives provide us with the experience to challenge those more significant situations. The actions on the world stage, or even at the organizational level, may seem too large for any one person to change. However, we can choose to use our emotional intelligence, intellect, and the specific skills that we learn and hone daily to make a difference on a larger platform.

So, on that drive, my view of “resolve” shifted. The “big” things are the results of the little things. What each of us accepts and lives with will determine the long-term outcomes. Do we oppose fundamental unfairness in organizational culture or stay silent? Do we expect others to stand with us when we don’t stand with them? These are questions each of us must face and answer individually. Then we must be willing to resolve to live with the consequences of our actions. The tools we use to answer smaller questions in our personal and professional lives, such as problem-solving, interpersonal skills, conflict-resolution, and negotiation, are the exact skills we need to strengthen our resolve on bigger issues.

Hearing the words of Winston Churchill provided me the opportunity to renew my resolve moving forward.