Recently, an executive for a global material handling company shared a story with me about his daughter. She had attended a week-long camp that culminated with an awards ceremony. Her prize for the week was the award of being the most resilient. Thrilled with the prize, she excitedly displayed it to her parents and asked, “What does it mean to be resilient?”
Resilience has become the buzzword these past 18 months. Of course, we have already used it in some capacity in leadership, business and personal contexts. However, the dramatic pivots made during the pandemic have moved this character trait to the top of the list. Yet, despite this new focus, resilience seems elusive at times. So, how do you describe the characteristics of a person or entity who faces constant challenges and yet appears to be the proverbial phoenix rising anew? More importantly, what constitutes resilience, and how do companies create a culture that enables their employees to be more resilient and productive?
Resilience is the ability to bounce back from stressful challenges and even discover opportunities from the challenges. Resilience is not tenacity or grit. It is not the ability to stick with a task to see it through, although perseverance certainly helps an individual become more resilient. Instead, resilience is a long-term approach to be more proactive against anxiety and stress while increasing the ability to improvise and adapt.
The good news is that resiliency is a learned skill. We are not born with it, rather, we learn how to develop and increase our resilience levels by encountering and enduring challenging, stressful and sometimes even traumatic situations. However, this capability doesn’t happen overnight. It takes constant reinforcement to hone the ability to adapt and recover.
In the case of the camp award, the ability to be resilient was most likely honed long before the week long camp. Nurturing and building that growth capability is a winning strategy that all organizations should embrace.
At the height of the pandemic with a fragmented supply chain, many companies made rapid pivots with technology and data. As a result, several industry trends projected for the next 5-10 years are already in practice. The most successful companies were already positioned to shift gears quickly with future planning, new technology and an agile workforce with the skills and competencies to handle constant change.