Tough Times Demands Resilient Leaders

Updated: May 21, 2020

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Whether you're leading a Fortune 500 company, a small department, or a large enterprise, now is the time to hone your resiliency skills.  We define resilience as " the capacity to cultivate strengths to positively meet the challenges of living; the ability to bounce back from adversity while maintaining personal and corporate integrity." Why is resilience so important in the work environment? Workplaces are embedded with stress. Workplace stress is correlated with high levels of depression and anxiety, and burnout. Burnout has a heavy toll on workplaces globally, both productively and economically. Burnout is associated with increased rates of absenteeism and reduced productivity – not to mention the negative impact it has on employees health. Psychologically resilient employees are better able to cope with stress, and less likely to suffer from ‘burnout’.  So, it is clear that resilience is highly important in the workplace. How can leaders encourage resilience in the workplace? How can we build more resilient teams? There is a range of possible ways to develop resilience in work-teams. Resilient teams are able to withstand and overcome difficulties whilst sustaining performance and cohesion of the team, or even strengthen the team. Below are some ways to build resilient teams in your workplace.

#1 Having a common belief

Beyond each individual team member having confidence in their own ability to be successful, team members collectively believe that they can effectively complete tasks together. By having a common group mindset that they can do it together and providing checklists and guides to help them as a resource when dealing with the challenges, the team can maintain their basic work tasks as efficiently as possible even during challenging times. 

#2 Understanding roles & responsibilities

All team members must be on the same page about their roles, responsibilities, and the ways they interact with one another during adversity. When team members share an accurate understanding of what needs to be done and how their roles — and the roles of others — fit into the big picture, they are well-positioned to respond to adversity effectively, and without hesitation. This allows for effective coordination without delays.

#3 Debriefing and Improvisations

After any challenge or stressful event, it is valuable for a workplace to offer its’ employees a ‘post-event’ debriefing. These sessions will encourage reflection about the experience. It is also helpful to facilitate team discussions about the challenge and how the team members coped. This also facilitates team members supporting one another. This process can also include future action planning for the team.

Team debriefing can also be a valuable thing to do after a period of time when there has been a string of low-level chronic challenges, which tend to deplete teams and are draining. Teams must then be able to improvise and develop new ideas or ways of handling adversity. Improvisation is really about the deliberate process of adjusting to changing circumstances in real-time. To do so effectively, teams need to be able to access existing knowledge from past experiences and creatively reconfigure it to develop new and novel ideas when facing a setback. Resilient teams are intimately familiar with one another’s knowledge, skills, and abilities so that they can draw upon the right expertise at just the right time.

#4 Encouraging A Resilient Culture

The work culture of a team is the key to promoting resilience.  It is the responsibility of a team leader, supervisor or manager, to create the right environment for their team. They can facilitate the development of positive work culture by consistently demonstrating resilient behaviours and encouraging team members to take 'risks' within their team, such as sharing new ideas without fear of judgement, without being criticized or ostracized by fellow team members.

A culture of resilience includes team members being encouraged to:

  • Speak up and ask questions without fear

  • Report early warning signs of problems without being sidelined

  • Stay calm during ‘emergencies’ and times of heightened stress

  • Seek out expertise rather than simply relying on another worker’s rank or seniority

During an adverse event such as COVID-19, leaders should remind their teams of their resiliency. Do:

  • Provide your teams with as much relevant information as possible

  • Help them set a direction

  • Coach team members and boost their confidence as they move forward with any new strategies

  • Reframe challenges as opportunities to learn and reflect

In order to develop the resilience of any team, it is worthwhile to conduct team resilience training such as facilitated group sessions. The benefit of training for a team is that it helps the team members develop a group understanding, which promotes cohesion of the team and promotes positive team coordination.

If you are looking for team development, leadership development, team building or character growth activities for your teams, connect with us today.

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