Are you a Resilient Leader leading a resilient team?
So far this year much of my coaching and supervision work has centered around assisting leaders and teams in focusing on and building resilience.
It has been both a privilege and a challenge. In identifying leader’s needs our first conversations generally turn to issues of stress, uncertainty, ambiguity and the pace of change.
Teams and team members have been variously described as open, excited, goes with the flow, to exhausted, irritable and angry, apathetic, stuck or frozen.
Every team is unique and so to optimise Resilience means that it is important to honour that uniqueness, invest and coach not only in individual but also in collective behaviours.
First, What is Resilience?
Resilience is best known as the ability to recover quickly from illness, change, or misfortune; the capacity to bounce back from adversity.
According to research by Ezzedeen and Swiercz, (2002), Resilience has been shown to be more than just the capacity of individuals to cope well under adversity.
Resilience is better understood as the opportunity and capacity of individuals to navigate their way to psychological, social, cultural, and physical resources that may sustain their well-being.
Second, What is Team Resilience?
The teams’ collective capacity for optimal performance whilst maintaining wellbeing, adapting to changes, managing adversity and self-regulating for sustainable success.
Ideally organisation’s should take a systemic approach to resilience where whole organization cultures, systems and processes incorporate a resilience philosophy. This philosophy needs to include the understanding that peak performance is not the same as sustainable performance.
With this in mind and considering the key themes that commonly arise in my work here are:
Six Key Factors for leading a resilient team
- Self-awareness – As Michael Jackson sang you first need to focus on the “man (or woman) in the mirror”. How are you feeling right now? When you reflect on your own day to day behaviours can you honestly say you are demonstrating resilience and coaching and supporting others in their capacity to be resilient? Wherever you are at is ok, but you may need to do some self care to lead by example.
- Connected – Discover and know your team members strengths and support them to leverage these contributing to the teams shared goals. Coach the team to depend on each other to kick goals, each bringing unique strengths to this collaboration and fostering the relationships between individuals. Resilient teams focus on values of honesty, respect, fairness and equity over time that fosters trust, commitment and loyalty. Teams also need to have fun and feel rewarded for efforts. Ask each team member: What motivates you? What do you enjoy and want to bring to the team’s endeavours? How can we ensure fun and rewards together?
- Clarity – It seems logical that team members need to develop their personal resilience in order to contribute as an effective team member. However a bunch of resilient folk doesn’t guarantee a resilient team. Why? Team member behaviours need to be aligned and not at cross purposes or in conflict in order for the team to be wholly effective. Team Purpose, Goals and Values are a good example of this. To lead and nurture team resilience these need to be clearly communicated, understood and shared. These are an essential foundation especially in the face of adverse circumstances. Coach with questions that help make meaning of the team’s purpose and activities to the bigger organisation picture and purpose. What is the meaning and purpose of our efforts? What are the benefits for our stakeholders when we achieve our goals?
- Learning – Building capacity in team members to keep learning and growing. In the last decade neuroscience research shows that our brain has a high plasticity throughout life therefore our abilities are adaptable and not fixed. As the saying goes “An old dog can learn new tricks”. (Just ask some of the Western Bulldogs older players from the AFL Premiership team of 2016). Encouraging learning and allowing mistakes and vulnerabilities is part of the learning process. This promotes trust and willingness to try by team members. Coach your team to change thinking from “We’re not going to get there”, to “We’re not going to get there, YET.”
- Positive – Focus on the Positive and maintain optimism even in adversity. Commence your meetings by asking: What went well this week? What latest progress or achievement are we proud of? What are we looking forward to next week? By focusing on the positive progress, you lead a mindset of future and growth thinking. Watch out! It can be habit forming.
- Personal Ownership – “Showing up” as a leader demonstrates ownership and commitment to the cause. Asking team members and teams to be personally responsible to face challenges head on and not avoid or shirk responsibility is key to creating resilience in teams. Empowering each person and the team with agency to act is essential. Ask questions like “What is your circle of influence”? What can you control, influence and contribute to positively and pro-actively.”
Finally bring Dr Seuss, the Master of Resilience himself, to your team meetings
“You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself in any direction you choose.” Dr.Seuss
See more on our work with teams here https://www.kaleidoscopeconsulting.com.au/development/team-building-melbourne/