Aug 16 / Helen Bryant

Building Resilient Teams: Leadership Skills to Navigate Challenges

When it comes to navigating the challenges of today's fast-paced business world, building resilient teams is no longer a luxury but a necessity. As a leader, you need to be equipped with the skills and strategies necessary to help your team adapt to unexpected changes, weather challenging situations, and emerge even stronger.

But here's the thing: if you're looking to not just survive but thrive in today's ever-changing business world, building resilient teams is the name of the game. In this blog we’ll explore some proven methods for building resilient teams and developing the leadership skills necessary to navigate any obstacle that comes your way.

The Road to Resilience

Let's kick things off by getting on the same page about what we mean by "resilient teams." Picture this: a team that can roll with the punches, adapt to unexpected changes, and emerge from challenges even stronger. It's like having a team of superheroes, each equipped with adaptability capes and problem-solving shields.
Adaptability is Key
One of the hallmarks of resilient teams is their ability to adapt. I remember when I was leading a team during a major organisational change? At first, everyone was unsettled and even anxious about the change. But through **open discussions** and **clear communication**, we turned uncertainty into an energy and excitement that just grew the more we succeeded. That's the power of adaptability in action.
Open Communication and Problem-Solving Mindset
Resilient teams thrive on open communication. They share ideas, concerns, feedback and even their favourite memes (because laughter is a great stress-buster!). Take one of my clients, for instance. She leads a hybrid team, and they've nailed the art of strong teamwork despite the distance. Clear communication guidelines, regular video check-ins and team-building activities keep the teamwork alive.

The Personal Touch of Leadership

Alright, let's dive into the heart of the matter: you. Building resilient teams starts with mastering yourself. It's like putting on your oxygen mask before helping others. The key here is self awareness. Understanding when you are at your best and when you are less effective. What are your emotional triggers, you know the things that really p**s you off? How well can you control your emotions in that moment?

Emotion Regulation: Your Superpower

Think about it – the ability to control your emotions during stress is like having a superpower. Take a deep breath, practice mindfulness, or even step away for a moment. Remember, you're setting the emotional tone for your team.

Growth Mindset in Action

A growth mindset isn't just a buzzword; it's a game-changer. When you embrace challenges as opportunities to learn and grow, your team follows suit. It's about fostering a culture where mistakes are stepping stones, not stumbling blocks. The ability to reframe challenges is powerful. For example instead of asking, "What went wrong with the project?" try asking, "What steps can we take to ensure success on future projects?"

Communication: The Glue that Holds it Together

Communication is a habitual skill, as a consequence, leaders can be unaware of their true impact. You need to be intentional and conscious of your communication style.
Active Listening: It’s hard to do, you need to practice
Leaders who truly listen make a world of difference. When your team feels heard, they're more likely to share ideas and concerns. Remember, your team's insights are invaluable – they're the boots on the ground, and their perspective can guide your decisions.
Transforming Conflicts into Opportunities
Conflicts are like storms; they can be destructive or cleansing. It's all about how you handle them. I once had a team member who clashed with another over project ownership. Instead of letting the tension fester, I facilitated a conversation where both shared their viewpoints. The result? A collaborative project that exceeded expectations.

People often need help navigating these conversations, and the best leaders can facilitate these conversations with empathy and support. One thing for sure is if not addressed, your team will bare the pain of the conflict much longer.

Navigating Stormy Seas of Change

Change – it's the one constant in the business world. I’ve been amused more than once when facilitating groups, and they talk about this mythical time when things will be calmer/better/less going on. That point is unlikely to come. Change is just part of work nowadays. But don't let it throw you around like a ship in a storm. Be the captain who steers the ship to calmer waters.
Embrace Change as a Catalyst
Remember, change is often the catalyst for growth. When your team sees you embracing change with enthusiasm, they're more likely to follow suit. 
Empower Your Team to Adapt
Resilient teams aren't just followers; they're co-captains. Empower your team to contribute ideas and solutions. I have often been amazed at the results teams I have lead achieved when I truly empowered them to crack on.
Ruthlessly Prioritise
On the back of all of this change can quickly come a feeling of overwhelm. Make sure you prioritise your team work, be prepared to stop activities that are not adding (enough) value, to allow the team to focus on the highest value gaols and objectives.

Leading with Heart and Authenticity

Now, let's talk about the power of being you authentically as a leader.
The Magnetism of Authenticity
Authentic leaders are like magnets; they attract trust, loyalty, and collaboration. Share your experiences, including the challenges you've overcome. Be open and do not feel the pressure to have all the answers. Good leaders ask great questions that get great answers with others. Your team will appreciate the vulnerability and make it easier for them to share their own stories, creating a bond that will help you be more resilient.
Lead by Example
Your actions speak louder than words. Role model the behaviours you want to see. Show your commitment by embracing challenges head-on.

Nurturing Resilience Through Mentorship

Imagine being both a leader and a mentor, guiding your team members to their full potential.
Unlocking Growth Through Mentorship
As a leader, you're not just in charge; you're a guide. Mentorship cultivates growth by sharing knowledge and wisdom. Hone your coaching skills to get the best out of your team.
Creating a Culture of Support
Encourage peer mentorship within your team. When your team members support each other's growth, it's like having a team of coaches on the field, ready to lift one another up.

Think of the knowledge your experienced team members have to share, think about skills swaps where for example, someone who has excellent digital skills could help someone who is less confident digitally. Connect and guide these relationships.

Balancing Workload and Well-Being

Lastly, let's talk about work-life balance and the well-being of both you and your team.
The Perils of Burnout
Burnout isn't a badge of honour; it's a warning sign. A worn-out leader can't guide a resilient team. Remember, self-care isn't selfish; it's essential. I learned this the hard way during a particularly intense project. Pushing through led to exhaustion, not excellence.
Prioritising Well-Being
Lead by example when it comes to work-life balance. Encourage breaks, discourage after-hours emails, and celebrate vacations. Your team's well-being directly impacts their resilience.
Be Consistent with your One-on-Ones
One-on-Ones are vital conversations when you understand how your team members really are. Infrequent 1:1s will not create the environment of trust needed for many people to be honest about how they are feeling and give you both the opportunity to address the challenge. If they just up and leave, it will be way more stressful all around. Protect your 1:1 time at all costs.

Sustaining Resilience for the Long Haul

The journey to building resilient teams is ongoing, but the rewards are immeasurable.
A Resilient Legacy
Imagine the legacy you'll leave behind – a legacy of thriving teams that embrace challenges fearlessly. People love to work in teams like this, and few get that experience.

Keep measuring team resilience, seeking feedback, and adapting your leadership style. The journey might have ups and downs, but the destination is worth every step.

Action Steps

Reflect on these questions.
1. Out of a score of 1-10, how resilient are you?
2. Out of a score of 1-10, how resilient do you think your team is?
3. Which of the above strategies would have the biggest impact if you were to focus on it? 
4. What should you do to put that into action?
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