Why is Resilience Important?

Resilience enables people to thrive in the face of adversity. Leadership is the key to building resilience in an organization. Organizational resilience is about maintaining positive adjustment through challenging conditions in such a way that the organization becomes stronger and more prepared for future challenges.

Diane Coutu, writing for Harvard Business Review, brought the idea of resilience to the attention of business professionals in 2002. Her review of resilience theories identified three common characteristics of resilient people. Resilient people accept reality; resilient people believe that life has meaning; and resilient people can adapt and improvise in response to change. The late Warren Bennis, the pioneer scholar of contemporary leadership, concluded that, “adaptive capacity or resilience is the single most important quality in a leader or in anyone else for that matter who hopes to lead a healthy, meaningful life”.

The concept of overcoming adversity through resilience applies to both individuals and organizations. Social resilience is about the individual’s capacity to overcome adversity by working with other people. Social resilience transforms adversity into growth by making existing social engagements stronger and by creating new relationships. In the same way that gradual exposure to adversity enables individuals to develop coping skills, regular exposure to adversity enables the development of coping skills at the organizational level. In other words, when the going gets tough, the tough not only get going, they get collectively stronger and the organization becomes more resilient.

Resilience is a group-level, social phenomenon in any organization where team members rely on each other to work effectively in a challenging environment. Resilience is critical in any organization that is experiencing change.

Is effective teamwork critical to the success of your organization?

Does your organization operate in a challenging environment?

The Resilience-Building Leadership Model™ is a taxonomy of 12 leader practices that build resilience in an organization.