Developing Resilience and Growth for Leaders and Teams in 2024
Developing strong foundations for resilience and growth skills will help your leaders and teams deliver results in 2024, and this article outlines an effective way of doing just that.
Have you found that some of your people need more resilience skills while others need more growth skills? In our fast-moving and complex business environment, many leaders and teams need to develop both of these skills concurrently.
Is it possible? And, if so, how do you go about it?
I’ll outline an effective approach and its three key components.
My professional career began in 1988 when I moved to Sydney after growing up in Hobart, Tasmania. Today, my kids struggle to conceive of life back then: no internet or smart phones!
It feels like the pace of change has kept accelerating in my lifetime and every organisation is under immense pressure to interpret what’s going on and respond in narrowing timeframes.
It’s exhausting on all levels.
I’m reminded of Jack Welch, former CEO of General Electric, who said “If the rate of change on the outside exceeds the rate of change on the inside, the end is near”.
Relentless change takes a human toll in the form of burnout, anxiety and stress. According to a global survey by HP, only 27 percent of knowledge workers say they have a healthy relationship with work, and 83 percent would be willing to earn less in order to be happier.
When I messaged a client of mine recently, he replied, “I’m doing okay, but incredibly busy with work which is now affecting my mental health”.
The pressure is being felt by people, teams and organisations as a whole.
Purpose is the foundation for resilience and growth
I had my own run-in with purpose after 19-years of working in corporate roles. Life looked good on paper but something wasn’t right, and a breakdown of sorts led to an abrupt resignation.
It’s a first world problem, however it was real. It happened because I’d set my goals in life around getting to that point, and once I was there I hit an existential wall. In hindsight, I wish I’d had more awareness of purpose in my work and life, and tools to navigate through the storm.
The warning signs were there: a year beforehand I joined a progressive folk-blues band – an obvious a cry for help(!) – and I’d started drawing financially-themed cartoons for our monthly investment update packs.
What I’ve learned since then through analysis and experience is that purpose is core to building resilience and growth.
Victor Frankl survived the death camps of Auschwitz and Dachau and noted that it wasn’t the physically strong who survived those incredibly harsh conditions, it was those who had a reason to live such as project, goal or relationship.
His story highlights how a sense of purpose helps us withstand adversity, trauma and stress; it helps us persevere when facing challenges and setbacks, and it motivates us to bounce back.
On the growth side, people with a strong sense of purpose tend to be very effective because they have direction – they know where they want to get to and they’re more likely to practise self-reflection.
They’re less likely to be distracted by an endless parade of ‘shiny new objects’ that act as decoys and steal our gaze.
Research also tells us they are more likely to seek out new experiences, push beyond their comfort zone and engage in self-improvement, aligning development activities to their goals
Developing a strong sense of purpose in work and life is an ideal foundation for greater resilience and growth.
I’m sure you hear the term ‘purpose’ being used a lot, but how do we take this somewhat fuzzy concept and make it more tangible and relevant to working professionals?
We can break it down into three components:
Component 1 : Personal purpose
I think of personal purpose as being one or more higher-level meaningful goals that give you direction and motivation in life.
For some, purpose is about helping people and the planet in a particular way. For others it might be providing for their family, improving their emotional wellbeing or any number of other things.
There’s no right or wrong answer. It depends on who you are and what’s going on in your life, and it will change as your life changes too.
The main thing is to have awareness of the drivers of meaning, purpose and happiness; a framework and tools to work with; and to eke out some time or be given an opportunity for reflection.
But, I hear you say, what if I help my staff work on their purpose and they realise they’d rather be doing something else?
That’s a fair and often asked question to which I firstly note that most people have financial obligations or aspirations that keep them at work, and secondly, that line managers are increasingly saying to me that it’s a bigger risk not to talk about it than it is to talk about it.
Employers can provide support in this area and become a partner in their people’s work and lives, going beyond a transactional relationship with flexible work benefits.
Component 2 : Organisational purpose
The second piece of the purpose puzzle is to raise the visibility of your business / organisation’s purpose and its positive impacts. If done well, it has the power to lift workforce attraction, engagement and retention rates.
In the past, corporate purpose statements haven’t been taken all that seriously, but leading companies and researchers are finding that a well-defined and implemented purpose drives performance, competitive advantage and profitability.
In fact, when I left my corporate career and set up my own consulting business, I came across the works of Harvard Business School’s Professor Michael Porter and Mark Kramer who have pioneered work in this space.
I was invited to Boston to join a global network of proponents in the business purpose field and subsequently authored a book that collates examples, case studies and methods to use.
Tactical moves may add to the bottom line in the short-term, however clarity of purpose brings focus to genuinely solving society’s problems, and that’s what drives medium- to longer-term value for shareholders – provided you can implement it.
I give a concrete example of a company putting purpose at the core of its business and the benefits that flow in a video presentation that complements this article.
Ask yourself whether your purpose statement is inspiring your people and, more importantly, is it being implemented so that they are energised by the positive, tangible impacts that you are creating for customers and communities?
Component 3 : Making purpose real to everyday work
This third component is where personal and business purpose intersect.
I’ve seen major companies spend millions of dollars and much time re-crafting their purpose statements only to find that it doesn’t feel real to their people when they sit at their desk every day.
With the advent of dispersed and virtually connected teams, it is arguably more important now than ever before.
According to Accenture, only 30 percent of employees see a link to their company’s broader purpose, representing both a problem and opportunity. In many cases the connection can be readily made by way of narratives.
The Josh Bersin Company has found that when purpose is embedded in work culture, employee engagement and retention rates are six times (6x) higher than when it is not.
Helping your people craft narratives linking their personal purpose to what they do in their work and team, and the role it plays in delivering your organisation’s purpose.
What’s around the corner?
None of us knows what lies around the corner, however, by focusing on these three components you can build strong foundations for resilience and growth that your leaders and teams desperately need now and into the future.
Life is precious and we spend a lot of it at work, so why not make it count for something?
If you’d like to find out more about this topic, you are welcome to view my video presentation that complements this article or download the slide deck titled, 11 Ways to unlock the true potential of your leaders and teams with purpose – it has practical tips to help you make this a reality in your workplace.
Please reach out via a LinkedIn message or using the details below if you’d like to discuss any aspects of this or explore working together.
Phil Preston is the founder of WhyThisNow, helping forward-thinking executives and leaders navigate powerful trends and change. He’s a keynote speaker, facilitator, author and podcaster, and can be contacted via firstname.lastname@example.org
Copyright Phil Preston 2023