A formula for resilience, for the Unprecedented and the Everyday

How do you build and maintain resilience? At Kantar Talks, we spoke to two leaders managing teams and new roles during COVID-19…
08 October 2020
strong resilient champion woman
Bart Michels

Country Lead, UK

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If you joined us for Kantar Talks 2020, you may have watched the discussion with Sophie Devonshire, CEO The Marketing Society, and Jess Myers, Brand & Marketing Director, Metro Bank, looking at the secrets of resilience and ways to build it as a leader in today’s ‘unprecedented’ times.

Bringing together first-hand experience and some best practice from the experts, some clear themes emerged to help define resilience. We also landed on some strategies to build resilience, to make teams and leaders effective in uncertain, remote and ambiguous times… in other words, every day, nowadays.

Sophie defined resilience in this context as ‘the ability to withstand something and the ability to flex and bounce back’ in the face of challenges, while Jess described leadership resilience as a ‘skill that is learnt, from experience and exposure to many different challenges’. As two leaders in new roles, during COVID-19, economically challenged and socially distanced times, resilience has had to be a core part of their leadership tool kit. Here are some highlights of what we discussed.

What makes for stronger team resilience?

1. Showing up with big leadership

Leaders must understand what leadership means, and what your teams need from you. This is a time for listening, and recognising challenges and hurdles – acknowledging difficulties. You need to focus on engagement and communication, making it regular and personal. And you must be very clear on priorities – what to focus on, and importantly what not to focus on, as teams are more stretched.

2. Active connectedness

Strong, resilient leaders stay visible with each other and connected as a team. Sharing information – indeed, over-communicating – is key, with regular, short check-ins. There’s safety in numbers, so when bringing people into discussions aim for as many as you need but as few as possible!

3. Rigour with vigour

Set up helpful process and a structure with commitment, which gives people direction and confidence. You need clear processes with real purpose – frameworks you can lean on give clarity in ambiguity. Data can also help to shore up actions and give people more confidence.

4. Bigger picture plus small picture

Purpose (in both your team and wider business) drives commitment, and the clarity to withstand external shocks. Help people see what the end game is and how their action helps – make goals both shorter AND longer term.

5. Going slow to go fast

Knowing when to take the time and when to accelerate to optimise impact and take people with you.

6. Nurturing attitude, managing energy, and injecting skills

Offer your team practical help to build confidence and impact. Help people to feel comfortable with uncomfortable by showing them trust. Encourage active positivity and give teams the skills to be successful in new ways. Bring energy at the right time, but also recognise the effort required. Flexible thinking and agility is also important.

What about resilience for leaders themselves?

1. Invest in your networks

Internally and externally, build networks and alliances. These will not only enhance your knowledge, but also offer a feeling of not being alone, and a place to ask for support and advice.

2. Bring the outside in

Realise that you have much to learn from what is going on outside – then gain the confidence to act with more information.

3. Make time to recharge

Recognise the need to invest in your own energy, skills and learning, and also recovery.

Watch this session, and others from Kantar Talks, on demand here.

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