1. Lessons In Leadership

Rebuilding Resilience

It’s time to shift the conversation.

I’m done talking about COVID. I just feel there’s nothing left to say.

I mean, sure, I’m happy to talk about statistics and how we can use the growing body of data to design safer,  more accessible events.  Health and safety are always relevant event considerations — and we need to apply continuous improvement to get better at how we manage for all the variables and protect people from the next transmittable malady.

But I think the more pressing consideration, right now, is the long-term, pervasive impact of the pandemic on the population in general. I’m referring to the unrelenting assault on our resiliency.

We often hear about corporate resilience and the various metrics we can use as benchmarks. Everything from the balance sheet to brand reputation can be measured and tracked. But we also have to think about our personal physical and psychological resilience. In fact, I would argue that an organization’s resilience is only as strong as its people’s. And frankly, based on what I am seeing everyplace I turn, our resilience has hit a scary low.

We know that disruption is the text-book driver of failed resiliency. Today, people have been hit by the double whammy of pandemic fatigue and the ever-increasing pace of change. Technological disruptions. Political divisiveness. Social isolation. Worry over the well-being of loved ones. Uncertainty regarding our children’s education. Pressure on our relationships as we juggle work-from-home/childcare conflicts. Fear of being judged or even cancelled due to lapses in judgement caused by our exhaustion. These things all drain our resiliency and leave us no time to recover. And I think most of us have come to the discouraging realization that this is the new normal. The pace of change and disruption is implacable.

As business leaders (and as parents, spouses, teachers, doctors, etc.) we have no way to arrest or even mitigate today’s pace of change. The most we can do is provide tactics and tools that can help people rebuild their store of resiliency — recharge their batteries — so they can continue to fight the good fight. This needs to be our priority.  If we care about corporate resiliency, it begins here. We need to be intentional about providing wellness programs, flexible work hours and work spaces, vigilance around taking time off, and empathy as a corporate value.

We are learning that, for most people, it’s not the actual tasks they do everyday that matter, but a larger sense of purpose. There is a deep satisfaction that comes from a culture focused on the greater good. We can lay bricks, but we’d rather build cathedrals.

Our people are all amazing and eminently employable. If they simply want a paycheck and benefits, they can find that elsewhere. But I believe their joy comes from being part of a purpose-driven organization that, in the face of so much disruption, is poised to drive positive change. And if they are marching in step with other human beings with the same essential values, they can both contribute to and draw from that collective energy bank. When I’m feeling low, you pump me up. When you stumble, I reach out a hand. We all stay focused on what matters in the big picture. We give each other the benefit of the doubt. We lean on our values and our shared purpose.

That’s how we cultivate resilience. That’s how we help each other step away from this treadmill of anxiety, stress, and fatigue. That’s how we move forward.

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