What High Levels of Resiliency Can Do for Teams

Written by on June 21, 2014

“It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all.” JK Rowling

The University of Southern California rejected Steven Spielberg 3 times; Toyota passed Soichiro Honda over for an engineering job; Apple fired 30 year-old Steve Jobs; and JK Rowling was, as she described, as poor as one could be without being homeless. But it is what each of these “failures” did after their shortcoming that matters. They bounced back. Success isn’t the lack of failure; it’s the ability to keep showing up. Resilience is one of the key factors of success – in business, in leadership, in life, in quidditch. When a team has the ability to recoup after losses, recover from adversity, and counter negativity with hope, what can it accomplish?

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Resilience is one of the key emotional intelligence competencies that people call upon during times of change, challenge, or misfortune. When leaders and teams are resilient, they:

  • Adapt quickly, and respond to change with optimism and hope as opposed to becoming cynical or negative.
  • Exude a sense of durability and openness to learning and adjusting.
  • Support meaningful relationship-building or maintenance.
  • Experience high levels of engagement and performance. Resilience is essentially a precursor to happiness; these teams are simply more satisfied.
  • Handle stress (physically, emotionally and spiritually) in a healthy and productive manner.

When we look at individual behaviours that drive team performance, resilience is the platform upon which we place our own knowledge of self.  Therefore, when there is that strong knowledge of self and a resilient leader who is able to harness the collective capabilities of these individuals, then the team is able to create its own deep level awareness of itself as a whole. They know what they’re about, what their values are, how to move forward effectively and how to harness collective capability and talent.

In the corporate world, there is a misinterpretation that resilience is “toughing it out”, that we have to take a thick-skin approach. That’s not accurate. We don’t have to be stoic or unfeeling. Nor do we have to go it alone. In fact, resilience is reaching out when we need help. It is feeling and acknowledging anger, sadness, frustration, fear – and being able to keep showing up.  Teams that have – or that develop these resiliency skills – are better equipped to handle stress, change, and challenge.

Adversity, misfortune, and even failure, may be inevitable parts of life and work. What we do with them, how we react and how we come back, is what defines us.