Rethinking Resilience in Leadership and Life

Is resilience a skill we need to learn? The short answer is no. We already have it. While it may conjure up ideals of continuous perseverance, resilience is not simply persisting when times are tough. 

Our recent webinar, Rethinking Resilience, revealed that a key part of harnessing resilience is re-thinking what we know about it. Rather than outsourcing or searching for it, Dr Anita Sands and Dr Alia Bojalova provide pearls of wisdom and helpful frameworks to help us reprogramme and take it in our stride while navigating life and leadership in this post-Covid world.

We need to reprogramme ourselves by stepping away from the idea that resilience is ‘bouncing back’ from something (as we can’t bounce back to what no longer exists) and asking ourselves what could’ve been. Instead, we should focus on what could be, as it helps us absorb learnings as we bounce forward.

Knowing your ABCDs

Leaders need to know what strengthens, depletes and replenishes their employees’ energy and sense of resilience, including their own! Being able to look at what their team has gone through as a whole and as individuals—to see how it has impacted them—requires empathy, so they can provide a balance of realism and activism as they go forward. This builds a culture where people share what they’re seeing and feeling, which dovetails into feelings of belonging, which is often tested in times of crisis.

Key to assessing this calls for Recognising what exactly has shifted for us in our context, Re-orienting our attention fully towards the new environment, Re-entering the new space with fullness of our mind and capabilities, and then Re-engaging (getting active within our new context). Understanding these four Rs, sets us up to improve our resilience by harnessing the ABCD framework so we aren’t just surviving, but thriving in the face of adversity.


Consider where you are, who is around you, what are your basic needs, and what do I bring to this place?


Understanding what captivates, inspires and fuels you in order to source the right capabilities to take on a new terrain, versus searching for what we need to recover from a setback.


The most important element in times of crises — which only emerges in an environment of trust, is a state of curiosity that brings new perspective to old situations.


When we allow ourselves the space to be aware and unapologetic about who we are and the space we occupy, we discover a new drive to leap beyond moments of crises.

Curiosity and cutting out white noise is key to commanding resilience. As busy humans, we tend to dive into crises by taking action immediately as a result of giving into the ‘white noise around’ us. “Minding where your mind goes” is key to decluttering the mental space that we’re in and creating a strong foundation to rebuild our thoughts on.

Vulnerability is the new strength, purposeful is the new strong

We need to be clear with ourselves and others if something is taking more than it’s giving us. As we navigate through new territory, it’s important to acknowledge these frameworks in order to stay transparent and humble. Curiosity is only possible when humility is involved, and humility is required to aptly recognise the unprecedented time we’re in. On a teamwork front, tapping into intra-personal curiosity can allow teams to establish common ground, co-create, find solutions together, and get more out of others through being open minded. 

“Humans don’t need an expert, they need averagely good humans. They don’t need solutions, they just need to hold space safely.”

Watch the full webinar here

About Ava Wardecki – Ava channels her love of storytelling into writing and as a director of a social media company. With a background in corporate branding, social media and public relations and a conjoint Marketing and Public Relations degree from AUT and HEC Paris, she’s worked across corporate, fashion, lifestyle and hospitality industries. Paris born and Auckland raised and a keen traveller, she’s passionate about how understanding and creating cultures that can inspire and evoke change.