Leading in dynamic times: building organizational resilience.



Never has the sentiment, ‘what got you here won’t get you there,’ been truer. Over the past two weeks, leaders across industries have been challenged to adapt to the realities of COVID-19. We are all trying to find the balance between ‘leading the change’ and ‘managing the response’ as we navigate toward a new normal. We are steering the ship amid a sea change.


From years of experience, we know that the organizations who will weather this storm most successfully are those who continue to invest in their greatest asset – their people. Today’s segment of our series on Leading in Dynamic Times is about ‘why’ and ‘how’ to prioritize organizational resilience on your agenda.


Why invest in building resilience in yourself, your people, and your organization?


Even before COVID-19, organizations were struggling to adapt to an unprecedented rate of change and address increasing stress in the workplace. Amid a global pandemic, organizations need to be prepared to manage a dramatic increase in volatility, uncertainty, change, and ambiguity as a daily reality.


Research has shown that resilience is one key to maintaining peak performance amid pressure, setbacks, challenge, and change. Taken one step further, organizational resilience is the ability of an organization to anticipate, prepare for, respond, and adapt to incremental change and sudden disruptions in order to survive and prosper. Put simply, resilience is our capacity to bounce back; to adapt positively, and in doing so, cultivate a thriving workforce and achieve organizational high-performance.


The best news: resilience is not an innate characteristic, but rather a skill that can be strengthened. Leading research in the field of occupational resilience has identified how we can build the ‘muscle’ of resilience in ourselves and our organizations’ cultures. Reflecting on how we have responded to challenge and change in the past allows us to identify our strengths and our opportunities for growth and in turn, extend that awareness-building to others.


As leaders, our promise must be to invest in the development of resilience in the people and teams leading our business. After all, organizations don’t transform, people do; building resilience in individuals builds the collective resilience of an organization.

How do we build resilience in our people, teams, and organizations now?


Let’s look for the silver lining: amid the largest disruption to our working (and personal) lives in recent history, we have an opportunity to practice resilience-building in real time. We know that the most effective learning and training is practical and reflective of the real-world environment, and that ongoing learning and development is critical in times of challenge and change.

  • Organizations are investing in virtual webinars on the topic of resilience to help leaders develop the psychological and behavioural skills needed to maintain focus on business objectives while dealing with uncertainty and disruption.

  • Make resilience a focus topic in one of your upcoming virtual team meetings: invite your leaders to do a little of their own research; ask them to bring their most compelling findings to the team call; report and discuss! Enabling peers to ‘teach back’ to each other is in itself a resilience-building activity.

  • Maintain your wellness program and put ‘resilience’ on the agenda. Though there are many corporate wellness programs that focus on exercise, healthy eating, and mental health, resilience plays a critical a role in long-term health habit change. In many ways, building resilience is the key to lasting companywide wellbeing.

If you would like to learn more about how we can support you, your team, or your organization, please reach out to me at any time. We will continue to reach out to our community of leaders to share insights and resources. We hope to be there for you as a trusted partner as you navigate this unprecedented time.


Jennifer Collins is CEO of Radiant. Learn more about their Resilience services.