“A leader is a dealer in hope.”
– Napoleon Bonaparte
Resilience is one of the four parts of Psychological Capital, which are productive capacities designed to be trainable to increase the well-being of employees. The application of these four capacities can foster lower stress levels as well as increase performance in the workplace.
Lopez and Snyder define resilience as “a class of phenomena characterized by patterns of positive adaptation in the context of significant adversity or risk” (Snyder & Lopez, 2002).
When determining whether someone fits into this class, one can use two different judgments: first, that they are okay or “better than OK with respect to expectations for behavior”, and that there have been outside circumstances that could have caused the individual stress or adversity. Essentially, resilience is the ability for an individual to “bounce back” from anything that life throws their way.
Research has shown that a key marker for the development of resilience in someone is positive relationships, particularly with regards to parent-child (Snyder & Lopez, 2009). However, it is possible to become more resilient as an adult.
The key is the attitude and perspective in which you approach situations; if you practice approaching stressful events in your life with a positive mindset, over time you can develop resiliency. In research done by Ann Masten, an experienced psychologist, she said that “resilience does not come from rare and special qualities, but from the everyday magic of ordinary, normative human resources” in relationships and communities.
So it’s possible to foster resiliency in an individual’s everyday life, as well as develop it in the workplace through positive relationships and experiences. How to create resilience in the workplace is what we’ll explore next.
1. Create a Work Environment that Fosters Resiliency
It’s essential not to underestimate the importance of resiliency in the workplace. Two major factors establish an environment that will promote resiliency. The first is seeing to the social care of the employees, which gives the individual a positive viewpoint of their place in the company; a leader can provide their team with benefits or set a system of positive rewards for meeting deadlines and completing tasks.
Another way to cultivate resiliency in employees is to rely on delegating to get projects finished. As a leader, delegating can build personal resilience by showing your team that you value and have confidence in their skills and talents. You will demonstrate to your employees that you know they are more than competent enough to be trusted and handle responsibility.
2. Set the Positive Example
“Before you are a leader, success is all about growing yourself. When you are become a leader, success is all about growing others.”
– Jack Welch
Practicing a positive outlook on adversity is a key individual factor for building resiliency as an individual (Snyder & Lopez, 2009). As a leader, it is your job to set the example for how employees who work for you should behave and relate to each other; be a role model for a positive outlook on problems that may come your way.
If you demonstrate a positive attitude at the top, then that will trickle all the way down through your employees. Instead of seeing failure or criticism as something personal or negative, you should demonstrate that it is an opportunity to improve.
3. Create Positive Relationships with Co-Workers
Positive, well-adjusted relationships are crucial for building resiliency in the workplace. An important factor in developing resilience as an adult is that an individual feels they are accepted by others (2009).
By nurturing relationships between co-workers, it can not only build their ability to work as a team and therefore increase performance, but it can also help each employee work better individually. As a leader, you can create these relationships by finding time to have community activities outside of the workplace.
4. Develop your Resiliency as a Leader
Remember, being resilient doesn’t necessarily develop from “rare and special qualities” (Masten, 2001) but rather it is a process of learning throughout your adult life. As a leader, you should not only set the example to have a positive outlook but to continuously strive to evaluate your strengths and develop your character.
Take Away Message
The workplace can often be a high-stress environment, where projects can fail, and criticism can be freely dished out. If your employees can develop a resilient state of mind, it will keep their performance level high and their stress level low.
However, the first step to building this attitude in your employees is by creating it in yourself. Be their role model, be a resilient leader, and you can inspire and motivate others to implement that attitude into their lives.
“If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader. “
– John Quincy Adams
Lopez, S. J., & Snyder, C. R. (2009). The Oxford Handbook of Positive Psychology. Oxford University Press.
Masten, A. S. (2001). Ordinary magic: Resilience processes in development. American Psychologist, 56(3).
Snyder, C. R., & Lopez, S. J. (2002). Handbook of positive psychology. Oxford: Oxford University Press.