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Building Resilience: Bouncing Back from Adversity

“The greatest glory in living lies not in never falling but in rising every time we fall.” – Nelson Mandela

In the corporate world, resilience is not just a trait; it’s a superpower. For women leaders, navigating the often complex and dynamic terrain of the business world and the specific challenges we face within that, building resilience becomes paramount. It’s the ability to face adversity head-on, adapt, and come back stronger than ever. Let’s delve into why resilience is your secret weapon and how you can harness it to thrive in corporate leadership.

Resilience Redefined

Resilience isn’t about avoiding challenges or pretending they don’t exist. It’s about your capacity to bounce back from setbacks, learn from them, and keep moving forward. In the corporate realm, adversity can come in many forms – a project gone awry, a team in disarray, or external market forces beyond your control. Resilience is your compass in these stormy seas.

The dictionary defines resilience as:

“The capacity to withstand or recover quickly from difficulties”

Too often we get caught up in resilience simply being the first part of this definition – the capacity to withstand difficulties. It can be how resilience ends up being positioned in adverse times – a need for us and our teams to “show resilience” can feel more like code for “just keep going”. In the fast-paced modern corporate world sometimes we do need that, but we also need to recognise the cost that it can have, both on ourselves as leaders and on our teams. Staying in the ‘just keep going’ version of resilience can leave us and our teams heading in the direction of burnout and exhaustion and lead to impacts on physical and mental health and wellbeing.

Instead, we need to look at the complete perspective, being able to withstand AND recover quickly and even beyond that, identifying the learning and growth that we can take from situations and apply it so that similar challenges can be avoided in future.

Why Resilience Matters

Research from McKinsey has shown that women leaders who exhibit resilience navigate change more effectively, contribute to stronger team performance and contribute to overall organisational resilience as well.

As organisations look to continue to diversify their leadership teams, break down biases and reduce gender pay gaps, supporting women leaders in particular to develop more resilience in the face of challenges and change becomes ever more vital. The old adage of “you cannot be what you cannot see” rings true here – for women in early careers, being able to see this level of resilience role-modelled by the women ahead of them can be a powerful inspiration and continue to build pathways for increased diversity in leadership.

We know that diversity in leadership drives innovation. Innovation also needs resilience – it needs leaders who are not afraid to experiment, to challenge, to try new things, to fail and then to learn from those failures and try again. Bringing diverse resilient leaders up through your organisation can drive innovation in whole new ways.

So what do leaders, and women leaders in particular, need to focus on to create a greater level of resilience?

Cultivating Resilience

  1. Self-care: prioritising work-life balance and physical and mental health is key to creating resilience. Women leaders in particular are often juggling multiple roles at work and home, and feeling confident in finding a balance that works for them empowers them to show up as their most resilient selves
  2. Mental Agility: A resilient mind can see setbacks as temporary and seek solutions rather than getting stuck in the problems. Having a culture that supports this around them can be key as can support such as coaching which enables the individual to reflect on what’s stopping them.
  3. Seek Support: A personal and professional support network can be vital both for dealing with the practical impacts of challenging circumstances and in supporting growth and development at all times. This can be in terms of practical support, mentoring, coaching, sponsorship or wider support.
  4. Continuous Learning: Resilience is associated with a growth mindset – seeking to learn from what has happened and understand how this can create further growth. This can be in terms of professional development or personal development or simply getting curious about what is possible.
  5. Stay Connected: True resilience is rarely something we do alone. Resilience can be fostered both in individuals and at a team/organisational level through creating strong connections and a sense of community.


For women leaders, resilience isn’t just a skill; it’s a revolution. By embracing our own resilience and working to continue to build more, to learn more and to develop ourselves, we lay the groundwork for the women who come after us to thrive as well and for our organisations to grow and thrive at the same time.

Our training and coaching programmes are designed to support your women leaders to develop confidence and resilience that will enable not only their growth but also empower them to build up their teams around them and create transformation beyond their current role or remit. Resilient women leaders will not only support themselves, they will create an environment in which all can thrive and build greater success personally, professionally and organisationally.

 to discuss more.If you would like to find out more about how our in-house coaching and training offerings can help to support and retain your female talent, then book a call with either Sarae or Jen to discuss more.

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