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Wednesday, 6 December, 2023

Building resilience for the mind

Building resilience for the mind, body and organisation. What is resilience? Lord knows we’ve all had to dig deep this past year, heavily relying on our reservoirs of the stuff to overcome challenges and remain optimistic. And, you know what, we survived. Call it resilience, or that British stiff upper lip, we are more resilient than we may think. 

Resilient people have the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties. They are equipped with and able to use the skills to cope and recover. They face life’s challenges head on. They are not superhuman. They are you and they are me. They still feel the grief or anxiety that anyone would, but they have the healthy coping mechanisms to handle it in such a way that they actually come out the other side stronger.

Apply this to the workplace and it is the ideal, critical even, as we embark on this new business landscape. The future of business is in the ability to innovate, evolve, react, and succeed, potentially changing its shape permanently as a result – an agile organisation is a resilient one. 

And it begins and ends with your people – any organisation’s biggest asset. As we move forwards, learning from our experiences, resilience will be an essential tool for leaders and their teams. Working to build this valuable resource equips people with the tools to cope with change or obstacles thrown their way, creatively, flexibly, and even embrace it.

Create the culture.

If people feel safe, they will perform better. A simple fact. But feeling safe goes beyond health and safety, (although highly significant as a matter of course) it is about psychologically feeling secure so that you can be the best that you can be. It is about creating a physical place people want to work, optimising performance it also links intrinsically with optimising human well-being.

It is your responsibility, as a leader, to equip your people, your biggest asset, with all that they need to flourish, not just in their role but in themselves. It is your responsibility to create a safe environment for your people to work and live in, accepting that your employees have a life outside of the office and personal responsibilities attached to that. At most, and its most effective, it should be an intrinsic part of all that you do. Part of your DNA, your culture.

How do you achieve this, then? Show that you value your people in their completeness, encourage them to take advantage of the wellness and social activities on offer, make sure they switch off in this constantly connected world, celebrate important occasions, foster flexibility, cultivate compassion and recreate those all-important watercooler moments wherever your teams may be based. 

Good mental health isn’t just the latest fad to be brought to the boardroom it is a business-critical concern, one that is essential for leaders to lead and for your people to support you.

Be kind. 

Empathy. It is one of the most important skills in any great leader’s toolbox – the ability to understand, listen and hear. And it is not something that should be restrained to the boardroom or team meetings. It applies to all stakeholders, customers, partners, people, and the marketplace. Being able to actively listen and hear provides clarity, encourages openness, and develops trust. 

It’s a pretty simple concept, taking the time to value people, listen and be kind. But it is often overlooked in many workplaces. Time is money after all. Kindness is about real people and authentic leaders. For example, sharing a lesson learned is not about showing vulnerability it is about showing strength and authenticity. Smile, engage, help, make time, congratulate, appreciate, and slow down. Kindness boosts your own wellbeing as well as the wellbeing of others and it has a ripple effect with a reach far beyond your world.

To recap briefly, we have a safe culture and environment, and we have compassion and empathy. This encourages transparency and trust, connecting people and supporting them to be more inventive, more pioneering, and more motivated. Good for them and great for business. 

You don’t always have to get it right.

If people have the knowledge, confidence, means and ability to make decisions and/or mistakes, they will already be equipped to step-up to the mark, be more productive and have a certain degree of ownership, enabling them to be the best that they can be whatever challenges or obstacles are thrown in their path. 

Powerful solutions come from the freedom to be brave. To be brave you have to feel safe, secure and valued. So, your job as a leader is to foster this. Delegate, give clear boundaries, provide opportunities for learning and growth, give them freedom to pursue projects outside of their main remit, and empower them to make mistakes (and learn from them).  

Building resilience needs to be a part of your culture, simply the way you do things round here. Some people are naturally resilient, they are fighters and equipped with a high emotional intelligence. Others need more support, but the good news is that resilience is something that you can work on and build in yourself, your people and your organisation. Foster resilience, promote a growth mindset and future focus and it can lead to future-proofing the success of your business.

Joanna Swash
Joanna Swashhttps://www.moneypenny.com/uk/
Recruited as Moneypenny’s first salesperson in 2005, today, Joanna is Group CEO of a global business that has grown to employ more than 1,000 people across continents, turning over £50m in 2020. She is a regular contributor on thought leadership, appearing on the BBC and in business press, yet does not claim to have all the answers, believing that learning is a continuous journey and diversity of thought is critical. In 2021 Management Today voted her the CEO of the Year for her development of company culture and her ability to drive transformation in the business communications industry. Joanna believes that great leaders should be those which are invisible, those that surround themselves with brilliant people and facilitate them to be the best that they can be, even if it is simply to make people smile. If she could inspire a movement, it would be one for kindness and good manners.

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