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YSC Resilience Session

Change is a concept that is not new to any of us. Each of you that attended the Talent and Leadership Club session last week recognised that you had either faced change, had your resilience tested, or were expecting the next year to be challenging.

At YSC we assess and coach thousands of leaders from a range of global organisations, and many of them are saying the same thing: the current rate and breadth of change we are experiencing is taking its toll and requiring leaders and organisations to operate differently in order to promote personal and business sustainability. YSC believe that Leadership Resilience is needed. This is not just the ability to manage yourself, but also an awareness of how your behaviours impact your teams and the people around you. Our research into the concept of resilience has led to the creation of a model that outlines our beliefs in this space.

At the session, I asked each of you to think about the most resilient person you know, and you responded with comments about people who were mentally agile and able to adapt, people who could take on challenges confidently, who were in touch with their emotions and aware of the impact of these on others, people who were able to balance their energy and those who could bounce back from setbacks. This last definition is typically most often referred to when thinking about resilience, but we have found, much like your answers suggest, that it is broader than this, and more nuanced. We are keen to make sure that this is not just another theory though, and so what is key is to make sure that there is practical benefit to leaders when using YSC's model, plus it is not a one-size-fits-all approach. What works for me might not work for you... it is essential that each of us think about our personal style and circumstances when we are identifying how best to apply this model.

The YSC model looks at an individual's personal and leadership resilience in 5 key areas:

Support - the ability to build positive relationships which create systems of support during stressful events

Confidence - the capacity to build belief in our abilities to achieve our goals

Striving - the ability to persevere by seeing multiple routes to a goal in the face of challenges

Recovering - the ability to re-energise toward our goals

Adapting - the capacity to incorporate learning to evolve with the changing context

Essentially, we see these five areas as giving us the ability to prepare for, respond to and learn from the challenges we face. A key aspect of resilience is that it is not a trait we are born with, but rather each area can be developed and enhanced. And what is even more encouraging is that we can develop the skills to enable greater resiliency even when we are not under pressure, or in the midst of change. We can practice and embed the skills in times of (relative) calm.

At the session, I encouraged each of you to think about yourselves in relations to each of the five areas, and challenged you to come up with a statement about what you want to do differently as a result of understanding the concepts better. Here are some of the practical considerations we spoke about in each area:

Support – consider your support network and approach - who do you typically go to for support? What kind of support? Personally, my first response is to reach out for reassurance and empathy (emotional support), but what typically makes the biggest difference is help to get the job done (practical support).

Confidence – I believe that when we keep a focus on our purpose (why it is that we are doing what we are doing?) that we are able to stay confident in our approach. For me there is also a strong need to manage the negative self-talk, recognising the critical voice in my mind that says “you can’t do that, you aren’t capable/experienced/bright enough” and making a conscious choice about when to ignore it and when to approach with caution.

Striving – This is about setting goals and working towards them and probably feels like it comes more easily for most of us since we are expected to work in this way. It is also about the motivation to keep driving towards your goals (persistence), but also about how flexible you are to adapt and change course when necessary. Persistence alone will see you run through brick walls; flexibility alone will see you meander through life hoping to reach the right destination. How are we accessing both attributes to achieve our goals?

Recovering – How attuned are you to the things that give you energy (for me it’s going for a run or yoga) and how well do you recognise the things that deplete your energy (for me it is when I have to be “on” for long periods of time, not having the time to think, process and reflect on information)?

Adapting – this aspect is about reflecting on past experiences with the view to learn from them. How do you use the past to help you manage current challenges and anticipate for the future? So for example, after a project my team and I will do a review to capture what worked, look at what we might do differently the next time, and share feedback on how we worked together.

What do each of these areas look like for you? And how do you support and encourage the people around you to develop in these areas?

I would be more than happy to have further conversations about any of the aspects mentioned above or answer any questions you may have in this space. Please feel free to contact me on