We’re not born with resilience, we have to build it at every level


by Owen Cook

“Storms make trees take deeper roots” Dolly Parton

We all know how important resilience is when things are tough – both for us as individuals and for the people we lead – and right now the hits seem to keep on coming, but people aren’t either resilient or not. Resilience is contextual, meaning we’re better able to weather some things than others, and it’s something that we have to work hard to build.

An old colleague of mine used to say “Anything you can practice and get better at is a skill”, so I think of resilience as something to train, prepare and to have worst case scenario strategies for. This is prudent for a number of reasons – firstly, we can’t predict when we’ll need to be resilient, so behaving in ways that shore us up in advance can only be a good thing. Secondly, the times when we need to be resilient are often the moments of highest pressure and stress when we’re more likely to go to a default, non-optimal, behaviour. Having simple, easy to execute strategies and plans for those moments will help you remember and use them.

We see this as a shared responsibility – we’re social creatures that like to feel connected to others and to something bigger than ourselves, as such, we can derive a lot of our resilience from those around us. We look at it through three lenses.

Individual resilience is all about you, how you manage yourself and your needs, where you place your focus and how you look after your own emotional reactions. What decisions are you making every day that are helping or hindering you?

Team resilience takes our focus wide and looks at how we support each other, look after one another, and remember what’s really important when things are difficult.

Organisational resilience is where we need to be lifting our heads above the parapet and thinking about the big picture and the experience of those we see less regularly. What are they wondering about, what’s bothering them, what do they need to know? What will help them keep going and focus on our shared purpose?

Read our full white paper with approaches and tactics you can try that should help here and for more information on our developing manager programmes click here.