Compromised well-being and resilience amongst leaders and teams is a business risk worth paying close attention to. In a recent study undertaken by Deloitte and Lifeworks on well-being and resilience in senior leaders in the spring of 2021, 82% of senior leaders reported exhaustion indicative of burnout risk, while 51% of participants had been contemplating exiting their roles. These pandemic recovery insights reveal a direct threat to business continuity and team engagement, fuelled by the potential loss of talent and lower productivity.
Our current reality
We live in times marked with increasing volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity. From political crises in several countries, inflation, recession, an escalating energy crisis, currency fluctuations, a war in Europe and ongoing civil strife in various parts of the world, clamour for social justice, not to mention Covid-19 and the disastrous effects of climate change. And the list goes on.
These crises are as much personal as they are global, and these circumstances colour the individual and organisational challenges we must wade through. They create the backdrop – a tension even – against which leaders and organisations must continue to exist and still seek to thrive. Resilience is the much-needed skill required to survive our current reality.
What is resilience, and why do we need it?
The American Psychological Association defines resilience as the process and outcome of successfully adapting to difficult or challenging life experiences, especially through mental, emotional, and behavioural flexibility and adjustment to external and internal demands.
It is multidimensional, covering all aspects of our being and is learned and strengthened over time. We should remain aware of what threatens well-being and resilience in an organisation and take steps to zealously guard against these threats maintaining a laser focus on growing strong leaders and teams in all seasons. Building resilience is an effective mitigant against dips in performance and business continuity risks.
These are moments in time that test our resolve and resilience both individually and corporately. As a leader, having the ability to recalibrate and strategise while simultaneously keeping abreast of a teams engagement and ensuring the team is well prepared for the times ahead can be daunting.
Yet, a well-exercised muscle is one that withstands tension and strain getting stronger with time and practice. Much the same can be said of resilient people who can bounce back quickly after significant difficulties and pressure. Theyre able to thrive in the eye of the storm. Resilience is like a muscle group consisting of other muscles such as flexibility, adaptability, creativity, and innovation all very critical skills in the face of extraordinary challenges.
That said, we should not lose sight of the fact that there are many who struggle to bolster their resilience. For many, the pursuit of well-being is not a straight line, and thats ok. In such instances, an abundance of empathy and self-compassion is called for, not forgetting organisational-level support.
Strengthening resilience through coaching
Self-awareness is the first step in the process of personal transformation. Coaching makes a person more self-aware by reflecting on their current reality with intentionality. A more deliberate look in a mirror that is supportively held up by a coach helps us see what is out of sync, and when and how things went off. This exercise is undertaken in a psychologically safe space and without judgment.
Coaching also provides a secure platform for courageously exploring healthy boundaries to restore the right balance by taking steps to safeguard our well-being and following through. This may include speaking up at work if you are struggling, reflection and mindfulness, making decisions that improve your work-life balance or help you navigate difficulties, or seeking help from mental health professionals if necessary.
As a coach, Ive found holding space for clients to reflect on past times of adversity and the tools they deployed to get through the season particularly useful. These deep reflections remind people that they do have experience in wading through adversity and can tap into the strategies that worked in the past (even enhancing these past strategies) enabling them to operate from their points of strength.
What is most powerful about coaching is that the answers come from the person being coached consistent with the empowering truth that we often have our own solutions. And self-made solutions often take hold.