Resilience has become a real buzzword but are organisations truly investing in building resilience for their employees or are they just paying lip service to it?

Building resilience goes beyond self-care. It starts with self-awareness. If it’s done right, it can lead to enhanced performance at an individual, team and organisational level.

 What is resilience?

It’s not an endurance sport, or having a high tolerance to push through tricky situations. Resilience is being able to bounce back. It’s having the capacity to cope and maintain performance in tough times and during periods of high pressure.

When your resilience levels are depleted you can find team members might:

•    Keep saying yes to increasing workload due to fear of judgment

•    Miss out on quality thinking time when they are busy and ‘up against it’

•    Tolerate the ‘dripping tap’ and not nip issues in the bud early on

If you are naturally resilient, you don’t always pick up on when others are struggling. You might find yourself in judgement of others and mistake lack of resilience for lack of ability. Which is why it is important to invest in developing your self awareness as a leader first.

How do you develop resilience?

Some people are naturally more resilient but you can develop it. We need to learn and choose operating strategies that allow us to build resilience with awareness. This involves exploring and working on mindset too.

I was lucky enough to host a roundtable for female leaders in Pharma recently, and we discussed not only how to build our own resilience levels but that of our teams.

All too often we wait until a team member or the whole team is in the grip of a tricky project and overworking has already become the norm. The key to solving a situation like this is to find strategies that show and teach your teams resilience before they are in panic mode or a state of exhaustion.

Instead of going for the quick wins you need to dig deeper. Instead of coping strategies, you need tactical plans that involve building resilience in your team long-term. It’s so much more than getting them through a tricky period.

You need to foster good habits in your team. Ask team members what area of work lights them up. Make sure they mix up this kind of work with the more mundane tasks that they don’t enjoy doing. Also, encourage them to plan in things that can build their resilience reservoir.

 So many clients I work with have a light bulb moment when I talk to them about filling up their resilience reservoir. They need to be working on being resilient mentally and physically, as well as dealing with a large workload. I remind them it should be part of their long-term plan rather than relying on it in a time of work crisis or only when a high-performing team member needs help.

Filling the resilience reservoir isn’t just doing yoga once a week or introducing flexible working. A downward dog or a day at home won’t fix the problem! How many of you have opted to work from home when you have too much work? You miss out on the three-hour commute but do three more hours work instead! It’s all about managing your energy every day. You should be taking the time to visit the gym, go for a walk or do something creative to fill your reservoir cup. You and your team need to develop self-awareness to know how to keep this cup topped up. Learn what gives you energy and what depletes you.

We all need to develop the concept of replenishing the inner battery. It’s not waiting for a crisis. Learn to thrive and don’t concentrate on the obvious transactional stuff. Tony Schwartz in his book On Form talks about all the different aspects a sprinter needs in their training regime to be successful. Some days it’s the sprint itself, and others it’s longer runs and not forgetting rest days and stretches. Just doing more sprinting doesn’t equal becoming a better sprinter. It’s the same for individual and team performance, you need to look at what they do at work and home as a whole. We need to invest in all aspects of our training not just sprint every day.

How do you proactively develop your resilience reservoir?

There are lots of areas to look at when it comes to developing resilience. It can be as simple as learning to have strong boundaries and being comfortable with saying no. Other actions you can take are:

•    Invest in your network and call upon it for help as well as ‘spring cleaning’ it  – look at relationships that are toxic, holding you back or depleting your energy

•    Invest in contracting with key stakeholders to redefine boundaries

•    Learn how to hold the space for yourself and others

•    Create strategies to replenish energy as well as putting an end to those that deplete it

•    Develop self-awareness around your work patterns of behaviour

Remember asking for help and support is not a sign of weakness and that you always have a choice. By proactively attending to developing resilience for you and your team, you will setting your team up for success.

If you need help putting some strategies in place to help build resilience in your team, please email

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