As part of our series of articles supporting our webinar on Leading Resilient Organisations, Nicky Carew writes about team and organisational resilience.

What is team resilience?

Team resilience is not just the sum of a team of individual people although that is a great start.  Last week we wrote about the individual’s responsibility for resilience.

Whilst individual resilience enables people to be at their best and strengthens team resilience and team resilience can bolster individual resilience, there are special qualities to create a team that do much more than the sum of the individual members.

A resilient team can be agile, creative, respond to change and deliver.  It (although it is the wrong pronoun as this it refers to a group of potent individuals) can deal with setbacks and be ready to move on to the next challenge.

4 Key aspects

Not many of us truly work alone.  But not many of us truly work as a resilient team either.

There are 4 key aspects of a resilient team that leaders need to nurture:

  1. Purpose
  2. Your Tribe
  3. Psychological safety
  4. Diversity


Are we all sailing on the same ship?  Do we know our destination?  That means do we know what outcomes we are working towards.  And do we believe we can achieve it together.  If we are clear about the purpose of our team we know how to sail to beat the headwinds and make use of the tail winds to get to our destination.  If we have to react to something fast then we know what we have to do to pull together.

Sometimes, what seems like a simple quality of a team is often not so simple.  Teams are usually very busy.  This busy-ness is often the result of responding to problem solving of the moment and having little time to be future focused and purpose driven.  Success is judged on outputs such as how much has been done rather than the agile journey towards successful change.  There are rules and limitations which have been built around historic failures hampering the ability to do things differently.

Time spent on helping the team to unite on the purpose and outcomes is an investment in the team’s resilience.

Your tribe:

We are by nature tribal and like to belong to groups.  In ancient times this would keep us safe. But this also meant an instinct to create a bubble and outsiders not welcome.  Some teams are like this. We now call it silo mentality, wanting to protect our information.  But that means that we don’t learn from others either so creating duplication across tribes.

Thus, a resilient team has a sense of belonging to a tribe but welcomes affiliation with other tribes.

Psychological safety:

Psychological safety is a popular topic because an environment of psychological safety in your organisation is vital for its resilience.  It is the open door to collaboration, ideas and agile working.  It is a culture where new opportunities can reveal themselves.  Problems are new learnings.

Only in an environment of psychological safety will a leader hear about the problems they need to know about.  Psychological Safety is the freedom to speak up and challenge, to experiment without fear of failure and encourages team members to be seeking continuous improvement.

Mistakes are not about incompetence but an opportunity to learn.  Unintentional failure should be blame-free.  When everyone can feel free to speak up without fear of being bullied, ostracised, harassed or even ignored then a wealth of new ideas and opportunities will open up. This book explores the topic in greater detail.


A resilient team is not about holding onto concord.  Diversity is not only the decent thing to do but the most resilient option.  When diversity is respected, and difference is valued the team can be at its most creative and handle change.  That is why at The Change Maker Group  we help teams focus on appreciating the differing impact of individual team members and the value they bring to the team as a whole.  This is not just a respect for skills and knowledge.

The Change Maker Profile – a unique profiling tool which identifies each person’s impact in change, enables identification of where individuals have their most potent contribution.

In today’s complex environment organisations need everyone to play to their strengths.  The Change Maker Profile will identify how you best influence the success in change.  It will also help you recognise collaborators who will support the project to be sustainable and future proof.

A unique combination

We are all made up of a unique combination of each of the proclivities illustrated here.  It is likely that we will have a particular inclination to one or two of them.  When we are working at our best a Game Changer may have some great ideas for change but probably value someone with a strong Strategist preference to clarify how and if these ideas are driving the purpose and for keeping that vision.  The Play Maker preference will naturally energise the teams and orchestrate them to be effective.  The Implementer really knows how to drive a project through and can hand over to the Polisher who will pay attention to the final perfection to delivery.

We are all able to play a role in each of these proclivities, however when we play to our absolute strengths most of the time, our resilience is super charged because it does not feel like work. It does not drain our energy as much as operating primarily in a proclivity that is intrinsically lower in our preference.  Moreover, if we are forced to operate in a mode that is not our preferred proclivity it contributes to stress and therefore compromises our resilience and that of the team.

The Change Maker Profile creates the lexicon to make challenge safe. Knowing your proclivity and valuing the impact of others helps teams to embrace diversity and to work at their best.  Dr John Mervyn-Smith, the co-creator of The Change Maker Profile, explores this topic more in our FREE webinar on the 18th March at 12.00. Sign up here.

Don’t wait for adversity to strike!

Whilst we all know that we can be more effective together, we do not always have the clarity to know how to work more effectively together. Often adversity strikes before we have embedded a resilient culture. Now more than ever before it is to our detriment if we wait for adversity to strike before realising, we need a resilient team!

We look forward to exploring this further with you in our FREE webinar.

Contact Nicky at [email protected]

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