Resilience. Whether we recognise it or not, it's something we’ve all shown lots of over the past 12 months.
It’s helped us endure restrictions no-one ever expected to face, it’s helped us rethink well-laid plans and strategies, it’s even helped some of us attempt to understand Year 4 maths.
There are still tricky times head, but with resilience the challenges coming our way might be easier to navigate.
So what is resilience?
According to the American Psychological Association
resilience is 'the process of adapting well in the face of adversity, trauma, tragedy, threats or significant sources of stress.'
Adverse events can seem difficult, even painful, but there are many that we can control, modify and even grow with. That's where resilience comes in, it helps us to weather the storm of these tough times and sometimes emerge better for it.
It's not an innate trait, it's something we can all learn, develop and apply to lots of different areas of our life. It’s a quality that is really useful for leaders to have and for businesses to be.
Becoming a resilient leader
As a leader, especially of a small or medium sized business, having the ability to endure and bounce back from setbacks is key. So how do you become a resilient leader? Resilience isn't really a single trait, it's the culmination of a number of behaviours that can together produce a resilient response. If you want to gather your resilience, working on these behaviours is a good place to start:
Honest self-reflection and emotional intelligence are important in building resilience. Asking for peer feedback and using this to regularly assess your strengths and weaknesses not only helps you become a better leader but puts you in a position to help others through times of crisis.
Resilience really comes to the fore in times of difficulty and when this happens it's often requires a fresh approach and new thinking. As a leader this can mean taking bold decisions and not being afraid to try something new. The most resilient leaders can make effective decisions quickly and move forward – equally they are comfortable recognising when a decision is wrong and moving in a different direction.
When you're under pressure – and when you're not – having a good support network is key. Like-minded leaders make great sounding boards when making hard decisions and don't be afraid to get the perspective of trusted colleagues. If you invest in growing a diverse professional network, you'll be able to call on different perspectives to support you through tough and unexpected challenges.
Work on your energy
Tough decisions are energy sapping, but by building the things that energise you into everyday life, you'll have reserves you can call on in difficult times. Try to think about times when you've felt really energised. It could be as simple as a walk, an intense workout, a passion project or cracking through your reading list. Whatever it is, block out time in your diary to prioritise that and stick to it. These small gains can make a big difference when times are hard.
Focus on purpose
All roads lead back to purpose. When the work you do, the role you play and the goals you're moving towards have genuine purpose you perform better. In times of adversity if you have a strong sense of purpose, you'll be more likely to take control, be proactive and get more satisfaction from working towards your end goal. This clear sense of purpose can help you assess any setbacks and challenges within the context of a broader perspective.
Look to learn
The more skills, techniques and strategies you have in your armoury, the more you'll be able to call on in a crisis. For example working on your problem-solving skills will help you assess what is happening, what to expect and how to respond using objective logic. Learning to master new skills inside and outside of work also feeds your motivation drivers and strengthens your ability to persist in the face of challenge.
What makes a resilient business?
If you've made it through the past 12 months, your business is probably pretty resilient. But with continued uncertainty it's important to ensure you're in the best position to take on future challenges.
When the world throws global pandemics and economic uncertainty at you it's hard to be fully prepared but the most successful businesses actively scenario plan. Think about how your business strategy, revenue streams, team setup, and day to day operations would need to be adapted in different scenarios.
Nurturing a culture of collaboration and adaptability across your business can really help. A team that works in silos will struggle when roles need to suddenly shift, the focus of your services needs to change, or if you need to adapt to high levels of staff absence.
When a challenge hits it should be a team effort. The more perspectives you have on a problem the better. And, the more communication you have the smoother the response will be across your business. Being open and collaborating also creates a sense of trust and shared drive to solve the current problem and future challenges.
Focus on the mission
Just as it's important for resilient leadership, uniting behind a shared purpose enhances business resilience. It helps your team to recognise and understand priorities quickly, maintain focus and engagement, and can be used as a guide for decisions across the business.
The journey to resilience
It takes time and hard work to build resilience. But attributes that strengthen personal resilience will benefit you in the good times and bad, and strategies that cultivate business resilience will make your organisation stronger, more efficient, and more agile.
Find out more about how Gather can support you and your business.