Leading healthy and productive post-pandemic workplaces: Leader resilience

Dr Caroline Rook & Dr Can Ererdi

“Do we need more resilient leaders? What does creating team resilience mean? What is a resilient organization, and what does a culture of resilience mean in this context?”

These are the questions that the first webinar of the of the Henley Centre for Leadership Leading Healthy and Productive Post-Pandemic Workplaces Series explored.  Dr Caroline Rook and Chris Dalton delved further into the concept of leader resilience, with the aim of uncovering questions and assumptions that allow us to meaningfully engage in better practice for healthy and productive post-pandemic workplaces.

What is leader resilience?

Personal resilience as the ability to cope with adversity and bounce back. Resilience is not related to only coming back after a battle with adversity, but learning from the experience and going above and beyond the previous performance levels.

Resilience as a key for leaders now and post-pandemic

Dr Caroline Rook sees five key building blocks of resilience:

  • internal locus of control, or the belief in ability to change,
  • commitment & tenacity to cause, which related to seeing challenges as opportunities,
  • self-awareness, which related to being aware of what is going on in the external environment,
  • strengthening work relationships to foster emotional support and finally,
  • development through exposure, in which the more change we endure, the more resilient we become.

Dr Chris Dalton argues that resilience should be understood in the context of the relationship between people and the environment. Conceptualising resilience as a personality trait or a characteristic is misleading without context. Chris describes resilience as “a system’s capacity to retain its shape as it changes its shape”. This indicates resilience as something operating at more than one level. We should take a much more relational view, rather like water. Water will move according to its context. So, self-awareness is key, understanding yourself, the people around you and your context, only then you can become truly resilient and help others around you to deal with challenges healthily.

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