10 Sep 2022  •  HR & Employment Law  •  4min read By  • Johanna Hooper

What is systemic resilience and how can it help you and your employees?

Leadership coach Johanna Hooper looks at systemic resilience and how it can help you in practice….

‘What is systemic resilience?’ I hear you saying. I know, it’s a bit of a mouthful isn’t it. Well, systemic resilience is something I came across a few years ago and it is about having everyone working together to produce a more resilient team and more resilient individuals and allowing employees to build resilience in others.

Everyone has to be pulling in the right direction, or systemic resilience won’t be achieved. Imagine an oil can that you keep filling up with fuel, but it’s got a hole in the bottom. It doesn’t matter how much resilience training or resilience learning that you pump into the organisation if at the individual level the organisation is somehow leaching that resilience away again.

There are different ways you can build resilience, so here is everything you need to know about the process of systemic resilience.

Systemic resilience – the three parts

There are three components to systemic resilience and it’s everyone’s responsibility to play their part. So, the first one is you as an individual, how resilient are you? How much effort and time do you spend on building your resilience?

Spending time on building your own resilience is important so that you don’t become a burden to the organisation or a burden to your team members. What we do know is that if you need to take time off work due to stress or depression or anxiety, the other folks in your team will be needing to pick up some of the work in some way. So, not only is it good for you to be resilient, but it’s also good for the people around you.

The second part revolves around the fact that it is not just us on our own, unless you’re in a solo kind of environment. What we do know is that conflict and poor communications and things like that have the ability to dial up stress with individuals as well.

So, if you’re not managing your resilience particularly well, and you’re spending time with other people who perhaps aren’t managing theirs well either, the propensity for poor communications, poor relationships and conflict increases which therefore dials up the stress. So, how do we, as individuals, ensure that when we interact with other people, we’re not making their lives harder either?

Then the third component is you as a leader. What is the shadow that you cast as a leader? Do you even know? Have you ever considered it? What do people think of your leadership? Are you fabulous and everyone thrives, or not so much? So, the third component for me is helping leaders understand the shadow they cast as leaders and the extent to which it contributes to or erodes the ability of other people to be resilient. Are you creating that stress?

The four Cs

The first thing we all need to do when it comes to ourselves is to diagnose the sources of our stress, before treating those sources of stress. I’ve spoken a lot about how you might diagnose this but, ultimately, it comes down to four C’s; control, confidence, commitment, and challenge.

Which of those C’s is helping you or not helping you become your best self?


Approaching systemic resilience

In my view, approaching resilience from a systemic point of view helps us in a couple of ways. The first one is it stops companies wasting money.

If you’re pumping in money for building the resilience of your individuals at the lower level, but your leadership climate is such that it’s just leaching it away, then you’re wasting money.

By taking a systemic resilience approach, you deal with cause and symptom. Rather than just kind of expecting your individuals to be resilient, there’s something helpful about understanding what the leadership climate is at that organisation and to what extent it is helping.

So, you deal with the cause, which may be the leadership climate, as well as the symptoms, which is helping people build resilience.




About Johanna

Johanna is a coach, tutor and director of Limitless Peak Performance.

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