Resilience matters for business leaders

Image shows a man with a superhero cape to illiterate resilience

Charlotte Hitchings, executive coach and IoD member, explains the importance of developing personal resilience in business

Resilience is crucial in business but sometimes things seem to conspire against us and we lose the plot – stress hormones get released, our heart starts pounding and our sense of humour makes a swift exit ‘stage left’.

When we feel pressured and flustered, we make poor decisions – ones we’ll regret later.

Sound at all familiar? How much better would it be if we were able to remain resilient in the face of the challenges we meet in business?

Research by the Resilience Engine, which provides leaders, managers and teams with the necessary skills to improve personal and organisational resilience, has identified that those who are more resilient have specific qualities and abilities.

Most crucial are three fundamental capabilities that can be developed and strengthened: self-care, pacing and being able to gain perspective on a business challenge.


Look after your physical, emotional and mental health and wellbeing. This includes everything from good nutrition, regular exercise and sufficient sleep to good social and support structures and positive relationships. Hobbies and interests that you enjoy and which bring you into collaboration with others are part of this process. And don’t forget that part of looking after yourself is having fun.


Ensure you have time to accomplish tasks and space to think. This means prioritising and saying no at times. Good pacing supports your ability to avoid being overwhelmed, a key source of stress for most of us. When we are looking after ourselves and have time to think, plan and deliver effectively, we have more energy, so that when a sudden surge is required to tackle an urgent challenge or emergency, we can release the energy needed and bounce back more quickly.

Gaining perspective

This means being able to stand back and see the big picture – to view things from the perspective of others is important to us in any situation. Is it really vital that I respond to that email immediately or could it wait? Isn’t my partner having just as tough a time as me, and wouldn’t we both benefit from a big hug right now instead of a row? This is perspective.

What have I learnt about my own resilience and how to maintain it? That spending time with people doing something I enjoy is important. Even when I’m tired and a task seems like a big effort, it will energise me. Getting to bed early and sleeping well makes a huge difference. Knowing what is important to me and what my values are helps me stand firm and say ‘no’ when necessary.

What works for you in increasing or maintaining your energy is entirely personal and that is what is exciting about working in the area of resilience. Everyone can make a change that works for them and every business can benefit from the higher performance that results.

Charlotte Hitchings is a member of IoD Wales and Toastmasters International


Toastmasters International is a California-based non-profit educational organisation that teaches public speaking and leadership skills through a worldwide network of meeting locations. There are nearly 300 clubs in the UK and Ireland with over 7,000 members

About author

Charlotte Hitchings

Charlotte Hitchings

Charlotte Hitchings has been an executive, business and personal development coach to individuals and organisations since 2004. She has a passion for resilience and leadership development as well as helping businesses grow.

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