Resilience is the capacity to remain flexible and adaptable while facing life’s challenges. Resilient individuals are typically more adaptable, open to changes and new experiences, and see setbacks as opportunities for learning.
Resilience helps people, communities, and systems thrive in adversity, manage stress and uncertainty, and continue to develop and improve.
Often, resilience is considered a quality that individuals either possess or not. However, it is not only a personal characteristic but a complex function of individual traits, environmental factors, and a capacity learned from experience. Resilience, therefore, is a state that can be attained and enhanced over time.
It can be developed and maintained through various techniques, for example, setting goals, learning from experiences, discovering and using strengths, seeking support, developing coping strategies, and promoting a positive outlook.
Resilience is essential for individuals and organizations because adversity is inevitable in people’s lives and careers. While individuals can work on building their own strengths, it does not automatically translate to team or organizational resilience. Leaders must intentionally cultivate an environment that fosters this trait in their group.
Resilient teams feel free to speak openly with each other and seek and offer feedback and support. They care for each other, have their backs through tough times, and remain solution-oriented through challenges.
What can you as a leader do to build resilient teams? Here are a few suggestions –
Create psychological safety – Team members need to feel that they can express their points of view, challenges, and discomfort freely without fear of consequences. They can talk about their worries and seek support when required. Leaders create psychological safety so people can be authentic and vulnerable and bring their whole selves to work.
Focus on relationships – Resilient teams invest in creating meaningful connections and lean on each other in times of need. They know each other beyond work and share the joys and low phases of each other’s lives. They treat each other with compassion and empathy. A leader facilitates this by walking the talk. They demonstrate that they care for the individual members of the team as much as they care for results. They ask employees what they are struggling with and what help they need.
Normalize time off from work – It is important to remember that resilience is not equal to grit. Glorification of ‘toughing things out’ can translate into ignoring the rest and recovery periods. Leaders need to set the example by setting boundaries, e.g., not sending emails outside of office hours and weekends, not expecting instant responses, taking personal days off, etc.
Do not paint a rosy picture– Businesses will continue to go through good and bad cycles. We have just experienced a global pandemic. Anxiety levels rise during uncertain and difficult situations. Leaders must be brutally honest in such times. It is more detrimental to paint a picture of everything being well when it is not. You may lose your team’s trust and drive them to fear the worse. When leaders convey the truth as it is, outlining the impact and efforts to lessen or avoid the difficulty, it helps the team find resources within themselves to cope with changes.
Support with policies and resources – This might mean encouraging employees to take time off at some intervals, adopting flexible work policies, providing access to therapy, setting up employee resource groups, and taking suggestions from them. This kind of support creates a work environment where employees feel supported to weather the rough and tumble that life and work can throw.
To conclude, the ability to build resilience is an essential leadership skill in a world that is becoming increasingly stressful. Building a culture that supports resilience in the workforce creates a humane organization and makes good business sense.