Monday, 4 january 2021 | Redacción CEU
It is not mere coincidence that the Spanish Royal Academy selected "resilience" as a candidate for 2020 word of the year. Although it was difficult for this word to win by competing against words like "vaccine", "pandemic" or "lockdown" (the latter was the one that finally won), this concept managed to enter the list of the most important terms of 2020 for a good reason. Resilience is a quality that not only enables people to overcome challenges and adversities with success, but to do so by also helping them to emerge from them strengthened. Who would not want to be resilient in the current context of the pandemic? Today, on CEU IAM, we reflect on what resilience is, its place within the business world and the keys to developing resilient leadership.
What is resilience?
We resort again to the Spanish Royal Academy in order to understand the definition of resilience, and we find two meanings. In the first one, resilience is described as the ability of a living being to adapt to a disturbing agent or an adverse state or situation. In the second one, resilience appears as the capacity, on this occasion of a material, mechanism or system, to recover its initial state after the cessation of the disturbance to which it has been subjected.
Sometimes, images work better than words... Imagine that you hold a spring between your fingers and then you exert pressure. In this case, resilience would be the capacity of this object to return to its normal state without suffering any damage despite having been subjected to the force exerted by your fingers.
We continue with comparisons. Now, imagine a storm arriving. You have to choose between being a weak and paper-thin rush or a robust and solid oak. What would you rather be? As you no doubt suspect, this question is tricky, and things would not go well if you picked out the second option. Why?
Rushes are able to withstand the storm with hardly any damage. When the gale hits, they can bend practically to their base, while oaks, despite being apparently stronger, may split as a result of one strong blast of wind. Paradoxically, their strength and robustness are not enough to successfully overcome this meteorological event.
If you have read this far, you have probably guessed that resilience is the great advantage of rushes. These humble plants are capable of adapting to the most adverse context, and top of that, they manage to do it when the supposedly stronger ones fall. This situation puts rushes in a very favorable position.
If we bring all this to the business world, we find that the best way to make a company stronger and lead it to overcome adversity is by making it resilient. How to achieve this? Through resilient leadership.
A company is nothing more than a reflection of the people that make it up, and in this system leaders are the ones who inspire and promote a resilient culture. They are also the ones who motivate the employees so that they all progress in the same direction and may overcome together the most difficult obstacles. Therefore, resilient leadership may become the best weapon to fight the pandemic: a corporate vaccine.