Resilience in an age of uncertainty

Cultivating resilient leaders, teams, and organisations

Organisations are on a quest for resilience amid a global pandemic. Resilience as a theme has trended many times over the past few decades, resurfacing during downturns and disruptions to remind us of its importance. In the past, however, the focus on resilience quickly waned as markets recovered and the well-intentioned blueprints for developing resilience were put aside, with organisations failing to see the long-term advantages of a resilient organisation. What will be different this time?

Firstly, we’re experiencing adversity on a profoundly human scale across the globe. Second, we face the stark realisation that the future will very likely bring similar global threats—perhaps on an even greater scale of disruption than the current pandemic. Third, as evidenced by the headlines of companies stepping up to take a people-first approach during the pandemic, we are witnessing a corporate awakening to the human side of business.

Resilience matters now more than ever.

Across the globe, we are facing adversity.

From the daily struggle to maintain a safe “socially-distanced” work and home life, a changing economy that is causing whole industries to decay while, to the overwhelming inability to meet market demands. Hidden within these challenges are opportunities for unparalleled growth, innovation, and positive change. Why are some individuals and organisations able to navigate uncertainty better than others and emerge even stronger, more agile, and more successful?

The answer is resilience.

What is resilience?

A popular definition of resilience is an individual’s ability to bounce back from adversity. One can add to this definition that every challenge offers an opportunity for growth. Thus, encompassing both our ability to emerge from struggle without harm and describe a potential growth catalyst. With this broadened definition, we begin to see why individuals, teams, and organisations alike can benefit significantly from building resilience in our current environment.

For individuals, teams, and organisations, becoming resilient is no small task, and it requires significant shifts in mindset and behaviour.

The task of cultivating resilience—especially at the team and organisational level—may seem daunting.

Global Pandemic: A real-world case study of human resilience and how resilience is a great protector and enabler in challenging times.

As a result of COVID-19, we are all participants in a real-time experiment, one that tests our ability to adapt in the face of extreme and abrupt changes to how we work and live. The pandemic has brought far-reaching impacts of adversity on the one side and a massively valuable systematic advantage for individuals and their organisations where resilience has been embraced and embodied.

When amplified by mindsets and behaviours that promote agility and adaptability, resilience can unlock massive potential for organisations.

If organisations are ships at sea, the resilient are those with a heavy ballast. In a storm, they may heal and list with the waves but self-right quickly. But, while staying afloat through challenging seas is requisite, it does not in and of itself advance a ship on its journey. There are substantial organisational benefits If one moves beyond emphasising resilience at an individual level to understanding what it takes for organisations to nimbly navigate the turbulence of the seas and chart a new course out of the storm. Demystifying this capability, portrayed as aspirational and only achievable by a critical few, can unlock massive potential for organisations across every industry.

Final Thoughts

Organisations that optimise human growth will outperform in all aspects of business, culture, and employee experience.

Resilience is a powerful preventative strategy that will increase an organisation’s endurance through the uncertain times ahead of us. Beyond just surviving future disruption, companies that learn to thrive through a crisis will emerge as winners. The level of resiliency in an organisation serves as a strong leading indicator of this competitive advantage.

While the business benefits are clear, the most significant advantage for organisations that truly believe in the value of resilience is reaping the benefits of a culture that promotes wellbeing, human development, and more meaningful life for every employee.

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