Resilience - is it just being able to bounce back?

‘Resilience is accepting your new reality, even if it’s less good than the one you had before.’ So said author and healthcare campaigner, Elizabeth Edwards.

There has long been recognition that levels of performance and engagement among business leaders can be affected by their state of mind. In the past, our predecessors would doubtless have told us to ‘get on with it’ when faced with tough times, but does this call to bounce back underestimate the effort that an individual may have to make to emerge from a challenging situation with strength and positivity?

Writing in Personnel Today, Anna Harrington, an occupational health adviser, notes that: ‘The current economic climate can have an adverse effect on an individual’s mental state, affect performance and engagement at work, and increase “presenteeism” (the situation where individuals work when unwell or are present at work but not fully productive).

‘For businesses to survive during difficult economic conditions, creativity and adaptability are needed. Fear and anxiety limit these capabilities and are potentially catastrophic to the individual and to the business.’ Resilience can restore an individual’s capability and, in many cases, create a steeliness that can elevate performance way beyond that previously demonstrated.

According to Jean-Anne Stewart, the Programme Director for Henley’s MA Leadership programme, it is important to help leaders and managers be aware of their personal resilience and help them to develop strategies to manage this in their day-to-day work.

‘The philosophy of the MA Leadership programme is grounded in the view that leadership is complex and contextual, and there is no one simple model or answer to leadership challenges.

‘But so many times, leaders are put in the position where they need to make choices between options that all have a downside. We call these: ‘wicked problems’, where there is no right answer, and leaders often have to make a choice about which is the ‘least worst outcome’. Building resilience enables these types of decisions to be taken with more confidence, and that positive approach can be beneficial to the teams and organisations they lead.’

The Henley MA Leadership offers real, tangible opportunities to put leadership knowledge into practice, with particular attention to ethical, responsible and purposeful leadership, supported by a team of faculty with practical experience of current organisational challenges.

If you would like to find out more about the Henley MA Leadership programme, please join us at an open day on 2 December 2016. Visit to find out more and book your place.

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If you have any questions or would like to learn more about the programme, please contact our programme advisors by email at or by phone on +44 (0)1491 418767.

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