What does "resilience" mean to you? I’ve heard a lot of talk about resilience in the sphere of business — especially after the tough year we had in 2020.
This has me thinking about some of the subtle aspects of resilience that I learned during my career. But, before we dig into the details, we first need to define what "resilience" is.
You Can’t Force Resilience
Resilience is the outcome. It’s not the plan.
If you can plan to be resilient, well, that would be a perfect world. But the reality is that we can’t foretell when resilience will be necessary. We don’t know what shape or form the actions will take that will later be called "resilient". Resilience is the result of dealing well with the unprecedented. It’s a moment when you come up against the unexpected, you face it and you manage well through it.
But, if you can’t teach true resilience, can leaders really “make” their teams resilient?
In my opinion, resilience is about the moment — so it’s not something leaders can force. However, the hope is that we can respond to these challenges in a robust manner and therefore be deemed as resilient.
This perspective is a little different than the idea of simply having a resilient team. To be resilient means you are resilient. Your team's actions — not words — have proved them as resilient.
How Can Team Leaders Cultivate Resilience?
As much as we may try, we can’t always avoid problems.
The reality is that as a leader, you don’t really know how your team is going to bounce back until they actually bounce back. Resilience is all about response. As leaders, we can hope that we’re able to develop a team dynamic with the skills needed to overcome challenges.
Characteristics that Foster a Resilient Team
So, what can team leaders do to shape a resilient team?
Personally, I think it’s all about creating a company culture that fosters resilience. We can do that by bringing in a healthy dose of compassion, understanding, and empathy.
Here are my rapid-fire thoughts on this:
Focus on the Outcome, Not the Problem
When presented with a problem, leaders need to face the reality of the situation and be transparent. In doing so, you allow yourselves to arrive at good, clear, concise decision-making. This sets up a strategy, which attacks the problems head on instead of dwelling in the misery and worry of what "could" go wrong.
Clarity allows your team to focus on the grander scheme of accomplishment. If you focus on creating outcomes, and put your work and energy into achieving results — you’ll be resilient.
Get Real About Resilience
I think the key is to understand that you can’t wish or plan your way to resilience.
However, you can work your way into the position where you can be deemed resilient at the end. That is the critical component of this whole equation. It is a nuance, but missing it can distort even the best efforts.
It’s interesting to hear people talk about resilience, as if it’s some sort of grand maneuvering plan to create this quality in your workforce.
Well, that’s not going to help your team when the going gets tough. People have the propensity to get down on themselves. We’re all human, after all. It’s natural that emotional tides go out.
Now, it’s not helpful to have an idyllic notion of resilience hanging over your team’s head. That’s only going to stress them out.
Harness the Power of Positivity
Instead, strong leaders can rely on the power of positivity.
We need to be able to keep them up, focused, and working. Leaders seeking resilience should be cultivating a culture of motivation — so even when things take a turn for the worse, your team has the drive they need to persevere.
The last thing you want is idle hands, because that is only going to make matters worse. If nobody has anything to do, they don’t have the opportunity to be resilient — to prove to themselves that they can. You can’t bounce back from something when you’re not doing anything about the issues at hand.
Be True to Your Team
A good leader is sensible and aware of the challenges that their team faces. If you don’t know that there are problems, you can’t find ways to solve them.
I don’t really think that resilience is a question of effort, preparedness, or clarity. It’s about achieving those end-goals through sensitivity, understanding, and paying attention.
Stanley C. Middleman
Freedom Mortgage Corporation