Return to events

How to build resilience in this constantly changing system

Nearly 70% of attendees to the OHP ‘Join our Conversations’* sessions said that their resilience was being tested and they needed new strategies to manage that.

A common theme in our March and April sessions was that decisions made last week, seemed to be out of date by the next! This applied particularly to people trying to work out how the situation would affect them, or how best to help others.

“How do we respond to what is happening now and position ourselves for the future when the future is unknown? Although there is a high probability of economic recession or depression”

On the calls with the widest geographic spread the dilemmas in terms of trust came up regularly. Is the data reliable, does it mean we are doing well or badly? The changes in measurement and reporting were adding to the uncertainty and further challenging our resilience to just be with the situation rather than solve it.

When we asked people about their resilience we found:

  • 30% felt they were ok, maybe not impacted too much, or not expecting it!
  • 50% knew their reserves were being depleted but believed this phase would pass
  • 20% were seeking support, coaching, sharing, using friends and family to process things and get a sense of a new normal before the reserves were gone.

So further conversations started about Mental health and how leaders can support staff to share their feelings when the reserves are low.

Now we are noticing that those leaders who are succeeding best are investing time in one of the key leadership habits

“They focus on productivity, wellbeing and mental health of their people”

One leader explained how they taken to calling everyone in the 2-3 layers below, personally. He started with those who he knew were at home, or stuck somewhere, alone. Then those with ‘at risk’ elderly relatives, then young families in small flats etc” The care to check in and find out what they needed from the organisation made a big difference to the resilience of the managers, and in turn they could pass than strength and confidence to their people.

The ability for leaders to be more ‘human’ has been helped by the virtual space – that we are seeing people with their children, partners, pets and different style of house and furnishings. This level of disclosure, which we have never had before has increased trust through vulnerability. Although we are also noticing that some people prefer a pictorial background, perhaps to hide the stresses of family life.

Resilience is a capacity to bounce back , through noticing how you are reacting in the moment, so you can choose how to respond to the stress you may experience, and to be compassionate with yourself about your own reactions. In lockdown, many have talked about the Coronacoaster of emotions they experience, and people have been thrown back on their own resources to find ways to re charge themselves, often through regular exercise, nature, or setting clear boundaries, around work in a zoom dominated life.  Mindfulness is on the increase at all levels – mindfulness apps have been offered to all employees in some companies.  As  a leader paying attention to your own resilience is key to be effective in supporting others, and being open to what you learn about yourself in this time through the resilience cycle. Many leaders are using coaching to have this extra space to build their own resilience.

As we go through more cycles, turnarounds, shutdowns, disappointments and change the leaders on the call knew they needed to invest in themselves, teams and wider organisation to be able to cope for the long-term.

With so much to think through, we concluded that now is the time to get teams back together so that they have the opportunity to do so in a facilitated and supportive way exploring these questions within their own unique context.  Find out more here


* Between March and May 2020, Orchard House Partners held ‘open house’ conversations with a range of organisationally and culturally diverse people from around the globe.  The aim was to explore leadership challenges during the pandemic and to share ideas about how to contend with them.