Great leaders relied on their organizational resilience in the past year. There are few people in the world right now who haven’t experienced unprecedented levels of stress and anxiety. Worries about their own and their family’s health, livelihood, and security have topped the list. 

These worries are multiplied for leaders who aren’t just worrying about themselves and their families, but who care about the wellbeing of their employees. And in normal times, we rely on human interaction to bolster wellbeing, and for most of us, that interaction has been removed or significantly reduced in the past year.

Accelerating Out of the Turn

We’ve created a six-part blog series called “Accelerating Out of the Turn” outlining the key elements leaders need to think about in the first half of 2021 to capitalize on the upcoming economic relaunch. In this final part, we focus on you as a leader, and your ability to perform in these uncertain times by fostering resilience, generosity, and hope.

1. Acceleration Plan– Create a business plan to accelerate out of the downturn.

2. Stand Out — Stand out from the competition in the eyes of your target customers.

3. Stay Visible — Remain active and easily accessible in the marketplace.

4. Retool for Growth — Adapt and improve systems, processes, and people.

5. Referral Partners — Create a network of strategic referral partnerships.

6. Lead with Health & Hope — Adopt and encourage healthy team behaviours.


If you haven’t read the fifth step, we recommend reading How to Leverage Strategic Alliances Through Referral Partnerships [Accelerate Part 5] before continuing on with the final step.

Building Personal Resilience

In Season 1 of Unleashed, Dr. Karen MacNeill provided a five-part framework for building personal resilience in order to lead with strength and conviction: 

  1. Self Expertise — know yourself: what is your personal brand and how do you want to “show up” every day to provide the most value to yourself and your teams?
  2. Mindfulness – take time to understand your thoughts and feelings, be present, notice how the mind and body interact and therefore the influence you have over mindset.
  3. Mental Fitness and Health – recognize that it’s a continuum and taking action to maintain high levels like practicing gratitude, connection, and control. Knowing that mental health is a real condition and knowing what supports and resources are available.
  4. Hardiness – develop the ability to endure difficult conditions. It’s a stress buffer, and people with it have high levels of:
    • Commitment to Purpose – know your personal why, and what contribution you can make.
    • Control – Clarify and control things you can control and not those you can’t.
    • Challenge – recognizing that there will be people and organizations that will come out of this stronger.
    • Connect – having a group of people, your go-to board, that you can talk to for support.
  5. Energy Management – knowing and maintaining resilience takes energy, and we must feed our bodies and souls. It’s a marathon, not a sprint, so give yourself energy by eating well, getting good sleep, exercising, and getting outside.

Developing Organizational Resilience

company leader talking to team

Leaders shouldn’t just adopt these behaviours themselves, but also encourage and make space for those around them to do the same. In doing so, they translate personal and team resiliency into corporate resiliency; resulting in an organization that has the ability to pivot and respond to increasingly frequent market changes and pressures.

Leaders also need to be givers. The word agape is not commonly used today, but it comes from the Greek word meaning “unconditional love.” Some argue it is the highest form of love or generosity because it comes without conditions; no strings attached. But ironically, being a giver without condition commonly does pay back, so often so that we commonly hear phrases like, “what goes around comes around,” or “givers get.”

Research has confirmed this phenomenon. The work of Dr. Wayne Baker and others has shown that having a giving mindset builds social capital, an extremely powerful asset in today’s workplace for productivity and success. To enhance our social capital we should go beyond people close to us (strong ties), but also build bridges to people who are just acquaintances or whom we’ve had little interaction with, including those from other countries, cultures, backgrounds, and experience.

As we saw in the previous section, using a giving approach is important in building strategic relationships which could generate new referrals and introductions.

Finally, leaders are expected to be forward-looking and optimistic, but blind optimism is dangerous. As Admiral James Stockdale reminds us, we need to balance faith in a positive outcome with the brutal facts of our current reality.


“You must never confuse faith that you will prevail in the end—which you can never afford to lose—with the discipline to confront the most brutal facts of your current reality, whatever they might be.”

– Admiral James Stockdale


As a prisoner of war, Stockdale observed that prisoners who continued to set dates for ‘when this will all end’ were repeatedly disappointed, became depressed, and many didn’t survive. Rather those like Stockdale himself who continued to stare current reality in the face, showed up and stayed present in every moment, and maintained faith prevailed in the end.

As leaders we are in the same situation – we don’t know when and how the recovery will come about. But we must push to not just persevere but thrive for ourselves, our employees, and our communities.

Acceleration Readiness Assessment

  1. Do you as a leader have routines to help bolster your resilience (mindfulness, exercise, healthy eating, gratitude, etc.)?
  2. Do you and your employees regularly help others in your community without expectation of a return?
  3. Does your leadership team transparently share information about the organization, even if it’s bad news?

Next Steps

Are you ready to leverage your strategic alliances in 2021? We can help! Book a chat with a member of our team for professional advice to improve business strategy and execution.

Eager to learn how to accelerate out of the downturn? Gain access to all 6 steps by downloading our free guide to the 6 Essential Steps to Accelerate Out of the (Down) Turn.

free accelerate business guide