Resilience is the capacity to respond to change and disruption in a flexible and innovative manner. In the face of adversity, resilient organizations maintain productivity while minimizing the emotional toll on their employees.
As the uncertainty wrought by the pandemic continues, you may be seeing your colleagues’ resilience dip or erode, which increases the risk of illness, mistakes, burnout and conflict. But when leaders cultivate resilience within their organization, their employees are better able to adapt to stress and adversity, are less likely to suffer from burnout, and are more open to change.
I developed the practical skills and tools to cultivate resilience over decades in my work as a U.S. diplomat in dangerous and challenging overseas environments. Now, I teach those tools to organizations of all kinds. But I’ve never seen such a widespread awareness of the importance of resilience as I have over the last year. In fact, data from Udemy for Business suggests that resilience has been the top soft skill sought by employees during the pandemic, with interest in content on the topic rising by 194% from January to February 2021 alone.
What can leaders to help people achieve success despite overwhelming adversity? They can start by asking themselves if their organization shows the seven Cs of team resilience, which ensure teams are capable and ready for the unexpected:
Resilient teams have shared values, identity, history and purpose that bind them together. They share stories that help describe their history and identity and can answer the question, “Who are we together?”
Resilient employees have the capacity and skills they need to meet demands, particularly during times of crisis and high stress. They have the knowledge and abilities they need to be successful, and they can share their competence with each other.
Resilient employees know each other and have formed strong relationships. They’re treated as individuals, not as positions or titles.
Resilient employees are dedicated to each other and to a shared mission. They demonstrate respect and loyalty to their colleagues and give something of value (e.g., time, money or effort) to support others. They also keep their promises and protect colleagues from harm, even when it is hard to do so.
Resilient employees feel well-informed about what is going on in the workplace. They willingly share information and encourage questioning, critical thinking, dialogue and differing views.
Resilient employees are synchronized across the organization, and their goals are aligned with organizational goals. Teammates work through conflict to ensure they are working in sync with each other.
Resilient employees support their colleagues’ personal needs as well as professional goals. They express gratitude and appreciation to each other.
I’ve seen organizations working under overwhelming pressure and stress thrive by rededicating themselves to these seven Cs. One nonprofit used them to forge a new approach that significantly improved its productivity despite the challenges of the coronavirus pandemic.
Leaders who prioritize and foster the seven Cs have resilient teams that thrive in adversity. They are not only prepared for the unexpected, but they are more flexible, innovative and collaborative in a crisis. They are the leaders who can view this experience as an opportunity for innovation and growth, not as an overwhelming crisis they struggle to survive.
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