Crisis Leadership and the Call for Resilience

leadership during crisis

The pandemic continues to test us all, and in doing so, it has vividly demonstrated the importance of crisis leadership and the value of resilience. If we didn’t understand the merit of those things before, we do now. ProjectHR host Jennifer Orechwa interviews Vivian Blade, recognized leadership expert, thought leader, and author. Vivian's latest book is Resilience Ready: The Leader's Guide to Thriving Through Unrelenting Crises. In this week's episode, she explains:

  • What resiliency means in the workplace;
  • What we can all learn from the "rubber band analogy';
  • The role servant leadership plays during times of crises; and
  • The five key principles that make up the Resilience Ready framework!

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Resilience Ready


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Leading During a Crisis

  • A leader's natural tendency is to check off items on a to-do list, but being resilience ready is also being able to focus on the human element of a crisis.
  • In order to successfully lead during a crisis, they must avoid the ‘fight or flight’ tendency. 
  • Organizations must not only train their leaders to lead during a crisis, but they should also be teaching resiliency in the workplace.
  • Leaders need to be self-aware of their own situation – where they are and what stage of internal crisis response they’re in, so they can learn and adapt throughout the crisis. 

Rubber Band Resilience

  • Resilience is not only pushing forward and persevering, but the ability to adapt.
  • Ms. Blade uses a rubber band analogy during her workshops to demonstrate that it is not only about being able to stretch yourself and to be able to bounce back when facing stress at work, but also looking at the toll it takes on the rubber band as a whole.
  • Resilience is developed by experiences throughout their lives, and how we are able to overcome those experiences and how we do, or do not, cope with them.
  • The COVID-19 pandemic can, and has, prepared organizations for more crises in the future, but it is important to reflect on the skills we have developed and what we could have done differently to be more equipped in the future.

Servant Leadership

  • Servant leadership principles focus on the human capital element of leadership, and developing human connections and empathy in the workplace.
  • When there is a crisis in the workplace, it is important for leaders to make sure their staff has the tools that they need to recover, but also to check in with their teams and make sure that they are doing okay. This is what successful leadership during a crisis looks like.
  • When there is a crisis and changes in the workplace, leaders need to bring others along, be supportive of their staff, and develop personal resilience.

Building Resilience

  • We need to have strong personal resilience before we can have professional resilience. 
  • There are often three fears in the workplace: uncertainty, failure, and change, and it is important for leaders to be role models for resilience to inspire and empower others.
  • It is important for leaders to find their own resilience so they can instill it through their teams to develop overall resiliency in the workplace.
  • Building resilience is a process, and having resources and tools can help develop this skill set. 

Resilience Ready Principles

  • The Resilience Ready framework is built on five key principles: 
    • Perspective
      • Optimistic outlooks for leaders so they can demonstrate strong leadership in a crisis for better professional workflow
    • Purpose
      • Having a strong purpose in the workplace creates meaning, and our purpose can create resilience within the workplace during a challenging time.
    • Perseverance
      • Having perseverance in the workplace is key to not only being able to push through challenging times and deliver that leadership during a crisis, but also to be able to set the conditions to help our teams to be able to push through. 
    • Partnership
      • Partnership is about engaging others, to build both personal resilience and proactively reaching out as leaders to build a stronger team.
    • Praise
      • During a crisis, praise allows leaders to recognize and appreciate others for their work and effort, and rewarding smaller accomplishments during a crisis.
  • As leaders, it is important to instill these principles, develop skills, and apply these action items to engrain resiliency in the workplace.
  • Setting these principles within a company or organization's value system, and working with organizational leadership to make it a part of the culture allows us to  rethink resilience development in the workplace.
  • More resources on these Resilience Ready Principles can be found at 

The Great Resignation

  • It has become a challenge to find strong talent and attain them, but it is important to create a positive culture where employees feel valued.
  • It is important to create a workplace that serves not only the organization, but the individual as well.
  • It is up to leaders to respond to constantly changing work environments, and it starts with building personal connections and instituting Resilience Ready principles.

Vivian Blade Background


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