Why a culture of resilience is good for business

03 jul 2018

Why a culture of resilience is good for business

Senior leaders need resilience to combat the myriad of challenges faced every day, but how best to go about it?

In the first part of a two-part article, Keiron Pim uncovers how we’re discovering better ways to cope with stress and uncertainty.

Our understanding of how to stay physically and mentally fit for life at the top is evolving. Programmes including mindfulness, psychological testing and nutrition analysis are typical of a growing corporate awareness that trying to be Superman is not the best option, either for an individual or their business.

Leaders need a more effective toolkit to handle their challenges. In a word, they need resilience.

Definitions of resilience

For Jacqueline Carter, Partner and Director, North America of the Potential Project, a global leader in providing mindfulness-based organisational effectiveness programmes, the definition of resilience is as follows. “A simple definition of resilience is the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties.”

Elizabeth Stewart, UK  Head of Executive Assessment and Development for Odgers Berndtson, describes resilience as “the ability to manage a sprint as well as a marathon.”

Duty of care

Rob Stephenson, whose social enterprise, Inside Out, aims to change corporate culture by encouraging executives to discuss their mental wellbeing, has his own definition.

“Resilience is all about the ability to respond to adversity or difficult situations, and there’s a strong element of flexibility. I think it’s misconstrued that resilience means strength or toughness.”

A City of London tax and finance expert, Stephenson co-founded Inside Out in response to his experience of coping with bipolar disorder in a corporate environment.

“I think corporates are realising they have a duty of care to help individuals manage their mental wellbeing, regardless of where the issue may have arisen."

Stephernson continues, “Businesses are starting to understand it’s not just workplace stress they need to be supporting employees on.”

Unfit for purpose

A Deloitte report from October 2017 titled Mental Health and Employers: the Case for Investment underlines the cost to business. Tackling the costs of mental health would be a win-win situation for the business and the individual.

Businesses that intervene to address employees’ mental health, whether through individual therapy sessions or group workshops to build resilience, see an average return on investment of 4.2 to 1.

“That’s really where businesses can make a difference,” Stephenson says.

“It’s one of the rare cases where the moral case of it being the right thing to do, and the business case of it being good for productivity and the workforce, are aligned.”

In the second part of this series on resilience, we’ll look at the importance of both physical and psychological fitness, and other ways that individuals are developing the capacity to lead when the going gets tough.

This article is from the ‘Well Working’ edition of the Odgers Berndtson magazine, OBSERVE.

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