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Resilience vs Leadership


We were delighted to welcome Paul Chudleigh as our guest speaker for January. Paul has been a Director at Insight for over 15 years. His background is in business psychology but in recent years he has focused particularly on applied neuroscience – exploring the impact of organisational behaviour on our brains. Paul has designed and is in the process of delivering senior and middle leadership programmes based around neuroscience principles for Rhondda Cynon Taf CBC. He also designed and led our award winning senior leadership programme with Welsh Water.

For this Session, we were exploring the topics of wellbeing and leadership. We have seen a huge rise in organisations considering the wellbeing and resilience of their employees and for good reason:

  • 40% of work absence due to work-related stress, anxiety and depression
    HSE, 2017
  • 73% say that stress linked with being ‘always on’ at work increases their likelihood of taking a job elsewhere
    Unum, 2014
  • By 2030 depression will be the world’s leading cause of disability
    WHO, 2017

These statistics are, of course, alarming and behind the statistics are millions of people who are emotionally suffering as a result of their work. Any activities that help to reduce this suffering, and to boost resilience and wellbeing, must be a good thing.

We work with the Resilience@Work (R@W) tool to help individuals and teams understand their current levels of resilience better. We have worked with a number of different resilience and stress models over the years, and there are many questionnaires and surveys available in the market.

However, we like R@W because it views resilience as a state not a trait. A trait is stable and enduring characteristic such as extraversion or conscientiousness. A state is a temporary feeling or behaviour. Viewing resilience as a state is good news because it is much easier to change a state than a trait. The R@W questionnaire analyses participants’ responses to 7 key areas and provides a clear indication of where to focus their energy in order to boost their resilience.

R@W Sustain 7

  • S1 Living Authentically
  • S2 Finding your Calling
  • S3 Maintaining Perspective
  • S4 Mastering Stress
  • S5 Interacting Cooperatively
  • S6 Staying Healthy
  • S7 Building Networks

We have been using this tool in coaching, leadership development, team building and in stand-alone workshops and have seen people make remarkable changes in relatively short periods of time.

However, Paul’s argument is that whilst the focus that organisations are now placing on wellbeing should be welcomed, it can’t just be the responsibility of individual employees to boost their own resilience. It is also important that leaders look at themselves and their organisations to assess how the impact that they may be having on the wellbeing of those around them.

This includes considering how the structures, rewards and culture of the organisation may negatively (or positively) affect wellbeing. It also includes developing approaches to leadership that:

  • Simplify and reduce processes and procedures to lessen workloads: are all those meetings really essential? must everyone be cc’d into those emails? Must all those forms be filled in?
  • Increase resonance: this is an approach to relationships and leadership that enhances and boosts wellbeing through ‘brain friendly’ approaches
  • Enable flow: flow is achieved when we have the space to really get into our work without constant interruptions, thereby improving productivity
  • Strategically coordinate workload: it must be the responsibility of leaders to ensure that there is an organisation-wide approach to resourcing, that people know what the priorities are and that when new initiatives are started, something old is stopped.

If you’d like to know more about any of these ideas or approaches, please contact the Insight office on 01633 415361 or hello@insight-hrc.co.uk

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