Resilience is formally defined as the speed and strength of one’s response to tragedy and adversity. Consider the most recent personal tragedy, health challenge, loss or significant sad event in your life. Just in my small company, the following events have affected my team: loss of a loved one and/or pet, debilitating heath challenges, organ transplant, medical malpractice, divorce, depression, extreme child and elder care situations, surgeries, unemployment, and financial uncertainty. In my little world, all those heavy burdens are being carried by people I care deeply about and count on for performance and productivity.
I believe that as the speed of life accelerates, as authentic relationships deteriorate into social media proxies, as our awareness of geo-political and cultural injustice intensifies, and as more people seem to be guided by self-impulse rather than wisdom, we are at risk of being woefully ill-equipped to process and bounce back from adversity. Thus, resiliency has become a more essential competence in the workplace. How might we, as leaders, build resiliency across our organizations?
Here are three practical strategies you can employ to help individuals develop resiliency within your L&D programs, as well as use as a model for strengthening organizational resiliency.
There is always something to be grateful for. Build your team’s gratitude muscles proactively so that when adversity hits, they have a journal full of joy and a head full of true goodness to buoy them through the pain and suffering. While tragedy and adversity are never welcome, these experiences make us human, help us build empathy for others, and help us grow stronger and wiser as a result of persevering.
Consider regularly saying things like “I’m especially grateful for ___, even though ___ is a current challenge for us.” Ask others during reviews or one-on-one meetings what they are grateful for.
2. Personal Vulnerability
When leaders model personal vulnerability and authentically display emotion, they create psychological safety for their people to be imperfect and bring their “whole selves” to work. Why not acknowledge that no one is perfect and life is hard? To do so is not only human but can be lifesaving.
When people are facing adversity, resist the easy path, which is to ignore it or offer platitudes like, “Things will work out,” “Hang in there” and “Get well soon.” Instead, be real: “Your recent cancer diagnosis is awful. I’m sorry and I’m here to help you fight and cope in any way I can. You’re not alone.” Enter the danger. Acknowledge the hurt. Share a personal connection to their pain.
Much of our strife and depression in life stems from our sense of entitlement and our distorted expectations for how our lives are “supposed to go.” Our power is in the present, not the past or the future. When we let go of our expectations and just experience the emotions and events in our lives “as is,” we can move along and bounce back from adversity more easily. Mindfulness is easier said than done, but it is a worthy pursuit.
Offer yoga at work. It’s restorative and teaches mindfulness. The physical benefits are a bonus.
While tragedy and adversity are unexpected, we can build capabilities that will equip us to bounce back personally and organizationally. It’s incumbent upon leaders to claim resilience as a core competence that we cultivate in ourselves, our people and our organizations.
Interested in assessing your organizational resilience? Click here to access a Resiliency 2.0 assessment.