Weebles wobble but they won’t fall down! This silly statement delighted children of the 70’s who played with these egg-shaped little people. No matter how many times you push, or hold, or even try to weigh them down, they pop right back up. This is a great illustration of resilience.
Resilience is not about how many times you are knocked down; it is about how many times you stand back up. In a climate where we are constantly bombarded with bad news and tragedies, resilience is even more important to discuss, foster, and practice. We see resilience as much like happiness. Each person is responsible for creating their own happiness, in the same way you cannot make someone else resilient.
As a leader of others, while you cannot force resilience, you can create conditions where resilience can grow. You are the gardener who adds water, fertilizer, and ensures that the plants get the proper amount of sun. In those conditions, the plants have the best chances to thrive. There are three parts to the formula: Building Psychological Safety, Practicing Empathy, and Connecting People to Purpose.
Condition 1: Build Psychological Safety
The first is psychological safety which simply means that tea members believe that they will not be humiliated or shamed. Research shows that when people watch negative news, they judge events in their personal lives more negatively. When there is disruption in the environment, our emotional roots need solid ground. We are more sensitive to criticism—including self-criticism—during stress. Building psychological safety requires that feedback is frequent, respectful, leans towards the positive, describing behavior rather than character. Harshness evokes shame, but regular teambuilding can ensure that members give each other a bit of grace.
Condition 2: Be Empathetic
The second piece of the formula is empathy. Be present for non-work discussions. Listen actively and validate people’s experiences. Is it worse that my kindergartner is missing that first day bus ride or that your senior is losing his football season? Grief is grief! There is no pecking order here. Any sentence that begins with “At least you” or “What you should do” derails active listening. Questions that point people to what is working and what they are looking forward to are better ways to support optimism than any “telling” strategy. Modeling this behavior as a leader can help spread it to the team.
Condition 3: Connect People with Purpose
The third and final element of the formula is purpose. One of your most important leadership roles is to help people to see their worth in the context of the team and the organization. Under terrible circumstances, survivors always have a purpose greater than themselves that they are reaching towards. Look at each person’s job in relation to the team and company mission. If you don’t have a team mission, it is a great teambuilding exercise. The focus that purpose gives is an amazing way to create that energy that allows us to rebound when pushed down.
If you are interested in learning more about resilience, check out our free live resilience webinar (www.oestrategies.com/events)