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A Sneak Peek at the DERLS for Resilient Leadership

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Part of our mission at DCRC is to support the resilience of adults who care for and educate children.  In order to help understand and appreciate why this is so important, we often use the analogy of a “pitcher” (the adult) needing to continually pour into the “cups” (the children).  When a pitcher is full (i.e. adults themselves are healthy), each of the cups gets filled with what they need (patience, love, humor, etc…) and when the pitcher is empty (i.e. adults are depressed and unhealthy), the cups don’t get filled (i.e. children aren’t able to receive what they need to be socially and emotionally healthy ). More recently we have been asked, “Who fills the pitchers?” DCRC has responded with the development of resources to support and build resilience of program leaders, who, in this metaphor are “the well.”

Adults must take responsibility for filling their own pitchers, but this is often hard when resources are low, stress is high and caregivers and educators are feeling alone.  All adults need “a well” who they can turn to for extra support.  Administrators, supervisors, managers, mentors, coaches and leaders can be that “well” but will need strategies and skills to provide resilient leadership that will help keep staff resilient, so they can in turn support children.

DCRC has been working on a companion tool to the Devereux Adult Resilience Survey (DARS) called the DERLS (Devereux Resilient Leadership Survey).  Whereas the DARS helps individuals (pitchers) look at their own resilience, the DERLS helps leaders ( wells) better understand how their leadership style can build resilience of the staff.  The DERLS is a 23 item, research-informed checklist that helps professionals reflect on behaviors associated with resilient leadership.  Organized around four key protective factors – Relationships, Internal Beliefs, Initiative and Self-Control—this tool can provide wonderful insight for leaders around areas of strength and growth opportunities in their current role.
The DERLS helps leaders to look at Relationships.  Positive relationships in the workplace foster support, teamwork, motivation, compassion and trust.  These elements of healthy relationships increase staff’s sense of connection, commitment and productivity.  Here is a sneak peek at one of the five items from the DERLS that help a leader reflect on Relationships:

  • I encourage staff to show empathy to others. (Almost Always, Sometimes, or Not Yet)

The DERLS helps leaders to look at Internal Beliefs.  Staff with positive internal beliefs feel a sense of ownership, share their strengths, think creatively, feel valued, commit to the vision and mission of the organization and are generally positive and optimistic.  These elements of healthy internal beliefs create a thriving work environment where staff feel good and do good work.  Staff will call upon these internal beliefs to help them stay centered, persevere during challenging times and be more resilient.  Here is a sneak peek at one of the six items from the DERLS that help a leader reflect on Internal Beliefs:

  • I model and encourage positivity and optimism. (Almost Always, Sometimes, or Not Yet)

The DERLS helps leaders to look at Initiative.  Positive initiative in the workplace results in good communication, problem-solving, professional development, growth, new ideas, positive feelings and a sense of support.  These elements of healthy initiative ensure that staff are engaged, productive and proactive.  Staff will call upon their initiative to think outside the box, stay positive and be more resilient.  Here is a sneak peek at one of the eight items from the DERLS that help a leader reflect on Initiative:

  • I encourage collaborative problem solving with staff (Almost Always, Sometimes, or Not Yet)

The DERLS helps leaders to look at Self-Control.  When positive self-control is fostered in the workplace it results in staff feeling understood, having clear boundaries, being flexible and using healthy coping skills.  These elements of healthy self-control ensure that staff are able to cope with their emotions in healthy ways.  Staff will call upon their self-control to keep their cool during tough times, go with the flow during chaotic times and be more resilient.  Here is a sneak peek at one of the three items from the DERLS that help a leader reflect on Self-Control:

  • I establish clear and fair expectations of staff (Almost Always, Sometimes, or Not Yet)

The DERLS is supported by a rich literature review, and a strategies resource is in the works.

For more information on professional development opportunities related to the DERLS and strategies check out this article or contact Debi Mahler at [email protected].

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