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When the going gets tough, the tough get going – lessons in business resilience

Resilience is like a muscle – the more we use it, the stronger it gets, allowing us to bounce back and come out stronger on the other side. Whilst the pandemic presented individuals and businesses with significant setbacks, it also presented a choice to see challenges as learning opportunities rather than the time to quit. This positive attitude shaped businesses and people, creating the opportunity to move forward, build resilience and positive social impact.

Joanna Swash, Group CEO of Moneypenny believes that resilience is defined as the capacity to recover quickly from challenges, but it begins and ends with your culture. “It needs to be built into the DNA equipping people with the tools to overcome obstacles creatively, flexibly and positively. It is not a crisis thing, it is an everyday thing.”, says Joanna.

“And at its very core is a leader’s responsibility to create a safe environment, practically, physically, and mentally. Powerful solutions come from the freedom to be brave. Delegate, give clear boundaries, provide opportunities for learning and growth, give people the freedom to pursue projects outside of their main remit, and empower them to make mistakes and learn from them.”, added Joanna.

Rebecca Kelly, CEO and Founder of VenueScanner, shared: “Having been growing quickly and recruiting fast, we had to reduce our headcount from 34 to 8 and massively scale back our operations overnight when the pandemic hit which was heart-breaking. As a leader, I have never been more exposed or more vulnerable, but I have also never been more determined to make a success of the business and bounce back stronger. It gave me time to focus only on the things that really matter – our people and our customers – which means we have grown closer as a team; our culture has never been stronger and our product has improved as a result. They say business isn’t personal, but it is, and it should be because it is the people that make it a success.”

“Adaptability and resilience are crucial in a crisis. Being able to adapt is one thing but being empowered to adapt is key when building a resilient team.” says Rachel Houghton of Business Moves Group. Rachel believes that aligning business operations with outside influences should be second nature for experienced leaders and that if you have built-in resilience, coupled with a team of people who aren’t afraid of venturing into the unknown or trying new things, then you will be able to pick yourself up even if the world turns upside-down – it’s about creating a stable foundation, and using that as a springboard for survival and success.

Mihaela Berciu, Architect of Leaders says that while ‘agile’ is a word that has been used a lot in the last years, there was probably never a time when it was more needed and current than the present.

“Allowing the liberty and empowering each department in a business to find the most efficient ways to operate, transforms the business into a conglomerate of small identities that are much easier to juggle. Imagine the Titanic as a conglomerate of smaller boats forging across the Atlantic as one. Only one that had the agility to separate and minimise the impact of hitting the iceberg and the ability to regroup afterwards to forge further together as one.’, she explains.

“Trusting the employees and involving them in finding the best ways to navigate through uncertainties, is for sure a winning choice. Remember that it is in the people’s nature to gather in times of hardship and need. Now it is such a time.”, concluded Mihaela.

By Petra Smith

Petra Smith