Top tips to lead with resilience in 2021

Dec 11, 2020

While there’s an end in sight to the pandemic, COVID-19 has hit most businesses hard. How do we bounce back and recover over the next 12 months? The key, says Patrick Gallen, is to learn how to lead with resilience.

I participated in an excellent webinar on organisational resilience and readiness last week. We were joined by guest speakers from around the world. What impacted me most about the discussion was the strong focus on how organisations, regardless of COVID-19 restrictions and a potentially hard Brexit, need to bounce back quickly as they recover from the pandemic and strive for survival and growth in 2021.

Resilience is the capability of organisations to prevent (where possible) and respond effectively to crises and the ability to anticipate, adapt and take advantage of long-term trends and opportunities. A key component of resilience is leading and responding through challenge. In today’s world, where change and disruption are constant, simply bouncing back is no longer a sustainable strategy. It’s about moving from a survive to a strive mode.

There is still a significant road ahead before organisations emerge from the current challenge and there will, no doubt, be new challenges that crop up. As a leader, you will need to direct with energy and purpose – and you will need to be resilient.

Resilience is not only essential at an organisational level, but also at a team and an individual level. However, the way we speak about resilience at an organisational and a leadership level will influence an individual’s perception of resilience.

An organisation’s resilience isn’t simply the sum of its employees’ resilience. It includes culture, leadership, beliefs and practices. Leadership needs to be shared and distributed across the organisation at all levels, with excellent communication and collaboration, avoiding silos and empowering employees to make quick and informed decisions. Here are my top tips for leaders in 2021 to be resilient and lead with purpose and energy.

Balance

Try to maintain a good work-life balance, which can be difficult when working from home on a continual basis. As a leader, make sure that a good work-life balance is encouraged and respected by you and the entire organisation.

Connections and collaboration

Encourage strong collaboration and support mechanisms within your teams and at all levels. As a leader, actively address the problem of silo-working.

Belief

You need to be confident in your ability to lead in challenging times, and this should be encouraged and supported by your organisation.

Purpose

Be sure to stay connected to your values. When you are connected to your values, you are more resilient.

Rest, recovery and review

After periods of intense work and focus (such as the last nine months), there is a need for rest and recovery, but just as importantly, a review of what has worked well and what needs to change.

Learning from new and difficult experiences builds on your ability to navigate the next difficult experience. Self-knowledge and growth as a leader will build your resilience levels for 2021 – and beyond.

Patrick Gallen is the Head of People and Change Consulting for Grant Thornton Ireland.