The Blessing and Curse of Resilience

The Blessing and Curse of Resilience

A simple reminder on resilience. Two things can be true: 

  1. Resilience allows leaders to push through challenges, handle adversity and continue performing even when the going is tough, often inspiring those around them to do the same. It is a wonderful quality and skill to learn. 
  2. Resilience as an admirable trait or behaviour masks the systemic issues that necessitate such resilience in the first place. It can perpetuate harmful cycles where leaders neglect their wellbeing, believing that enduring hardship is simply part of the job. When mimicked by teams, this creates a ripple effect of unhealthy behaviours. Resilience runs out, and when it does, your ability to lead well will be curtailed. 

When leaders constantly operate in an emotionally overdrawn state, the cost is their resilience, risk of burnout, and diminished effectiveness.

Changing the systems that require resilience

Rather than focusing solely on building resilience, there’s a need to change the systems that demand it. Leaders often find themselves in environments that unnecessarily strain their mental and physical health, believing that business is inherently stressful and ‘meant to be hard’. They lean hard on the drivers’ and behaviours they have come to accept – resulting in missed social occasions, working late and deprioritising their mental and physical health. 

Four simple ways to maintain your own resilience:

  1. Encourage a culture where self-care is prioritised, and long hours are not the norm.
  2. Build a strong, autonomous team and trust them to handle responsibilities.
  3. Challenge the belief that constant stress is normal and cultivate habits that support long-term well-being.
  4. Empathy with boundaries – show care and commitment without sacrificing your health. 

Resilience, like everything, is finite in its resource. It’s time to stop glorifying relentless resilience and start addressing the root causes of stress and burnout. Leaders must recognise the impact of their emotional overdraft and take steps to create healthier, more sustainable work environments.



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *