Key Survival Skills: CEO of the Year, Joanna Swash, shares how leaders can build and nurture resilience in their team

Joanna Swash, Group CEO of Moneypenny, explains the importance of resilience and how leaders can create it

We have learned a lot about ourselves and our organisations thanks to Covid-19. To succeed and to be successful we must hear the lessons we have learned and learn them well. One particular lesson to be learned is that of resilience and it will be an essential tool for leaders and their teams. Working to build this valuable resource equips people with the tools to cope with change or obstacles thrown their way, creatively, flexibly, and even embrace it.

A safe space. As a leader it is your role to create a safe work environment for your people. This applies practically, physically, and mentally. The first is an element that every organisation should simply do as a matter of course, Health & Safety 101. The second is about creating a physical place people want to work, optimising performance it also links intrinsically with optimising human well-being.

And human wellbeing means that your responsibility extends to creating a safe environment for your people to work and live in. Show that you value your people in their completeness, encourage them to take advantage of the wellness and social activities on offer, make sure they switch off in this constantly connected world, celebrate important occasions, foster flexibility, cultivate compassion and recreate those all-important watercooler moments wherever your teams may be based. Good mental health is essential for leaders to lead and your people to support you.

Kindness. One of the most important skills in a leader’s competency kit is the ability to understand, listen and hear. This applies to all stakeholders, customers, partners, people, and the marketplace. It provides clarity, encourages openness, and develops trust.

At its core is a universal human requirement, kindness – it is about real people and real leaders. No one is perfect and sharing a tale of a lesson learned is not about vulnerability it is about authenticity. It helps us connect, another crucial human requirement, influencing the behaviour of others and the effect continues. Kindness boosts your own wellbeing as well as the wellbeing of others and more than anything, it doesn’t cost a penny.

Add this to creating a safe environment and you allow people to be more inventive, more pioneering, and more motivated. Good for them and great for business.

Embrace failure. When people have the knowledge, confidence, means and ability to make decisions and/or mistakes, the benefits are endless, even in a crisis. They will already be equipped to step-up to the mark, be more productive and have a certain degree of ownership, enabling them to be the best that they can be.

This ethos should be woven into daily life, inspiring and encouraging people to improve themselves, their work experience, and the culture. Delegate, give clear boundaries, provide opportunities for learning and growth, give them freedom to pursue projects outside of their main remit, and empower them to make mistakes (and learn from them). Powerful solutions come from the freedom to be brave.

The first rule of crisis management is to recognise that there is a crisis. Then you must resolve it and learn from it. What the pandemic has shown us, is the importance of resilience in the business landscape, not least of all by making your people more motivated, equipped to deal with change and improving their overall health and wellbeing. There are really only positives.

Fostering and facilitating resilience in your people also supports organisational resilience, promoting a growth mindset and future focus. Nurture this and you will be future-proofing your people and your business.

About the author

 Joanna is a member of Forbes Business Council and was recently awarded CEO of the Year by Management Today.  However she is best known as Group CEO of Moneypenny, an international business that has grown to employ more than 1000 people across continents and answers outsourced calls, live chat and digital comms for thousands of businesses globally.

At the heart of Moneypenny lies a unique culture based on mutual respect and trust. Joanna’s intimate understanding and nurturing of these founding principles has seen the business enjoy recognition as a Best Company to Work For for over a decade.

Above all else, when it comes to outsourced communications, Joanna believes passionately that businesses of any size should stick to what they do best: “Focus on delivering what you’re really good at – and let experts help take care of the rest.”