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  • Writer's pictureDr. Vera Alves

How resilient do you think you are? And does it really matter?

When asked to define the skills and behaviors necessary for successful managers, I frequently remember my former CEO. Among her many qualities, one certainly contributed to her success as a leader at different levels and impacted my career in particular. She was incredibly resilient. Resilience is defined as the ability to adapt well in the face of change, stress, threats, trauma, and keep going despite adversity. We are frequently under stress and pressure and need to learn to cope with failure and unpredictability in the work environment. Resilience provides the ability to recover quickly from change and hardships.[1]

The ability to be resilient has not been taught to many managers or entrepreneurs, and financial performance management has dominated the managerial toolkit in recent years. As a result, only a small number of businesses are able to plan for, develop, and manage resilience. The good news is that resilience is 100% learnable, as human beings can develop more and more capacity to cope with challenges. [2]

What makes Resilience Important?

Developing resilience is beneficial in many different ways. It can help people learn to reduce and better handle stress, tolerate ambiguity and uncertainty, and adapt to new situations. It can also reduce rates of anxiety and depression and helps us handle mistakes and setbacks less negatively,[1] besides reducing mental illnesses.[2] Lower levels of resilience are associated with productivity loss, higher absenteeism and turnover, poor customer service, and higher healthcare costs.[2]

I always think of resilience and grit as very close aspects. Grit is the passion and perseverance for long-term goals.[3] According to Angela Duckworth, grit is the hallmark of high achievers.[3] Grit is what keeps you motivated and focused on your long-term objectives and helps you face failure not as a permanent condition but as part of the path towards your vision. Therefore, resilience and grit are inexplicably intertwined.

Developing resilience

Research indicates that we can increase our levels of resilience by investing in different areas. Here we will look into four of them.

  • Build connections: solid relationships and networks are fundamental to increase our resilience levels. Find trustworthy and compassionate individuals who can be by your side in difficult moments, both in the professional and personal spheres.[4] These individuals can help you manage surges, make sense of people and politics at work, help you develop self-confidence and learn to self-advocate, provide empathetic support, and remind you of your purpose, values, and strengths.[5] Remember that building these relationships takes time and intentional effort. Invest in your network, and keep in mind that you will also be that person for some of your friends every now and then. It's a two-way street. "Relationships may be our most undervalued resources."[5]

  • Find purpose: set realistic goals for your life and move toward them. Constantly ask yourself: "What's one thing I know I can accomplish today that helps me move in the direction I want to go? "[4] Be proactive and take the initiative. Don't let your problems overwhelm you, but figure out what you can solve now and what needs to or could be dealt with at a later stage. Breathe and focus on your long-term goals!

  • Be optimistic: Adopt a more balanced and realistic perspective of your reality.[4] Be careful not to underestimate your capacity and fall into the "I just can't handle it!" state of mind. Instead, be clear about your strengths and remember them in times of great pressure. You can always work on your interpretation and response to problems, even when you can't change the current situation.

  • Accept change: change is inevitable and part of our everyday lives. Develop new abilities and learn to let go of things that are not relevant anymore. Sometimes what made you succeed in the past is not going to work in the present crisis. So, learn from the past but be open to new perspectives, courses of action, points of view, and the feeling of lack of control. Embrace change!


Resilient people and companies face reality with a positive attitude, "make meaning of hardship instead of crying out in despair, and improvise solutions from thin air."[6] This is precisely what I learned from my former CEO, and it has made a significant difference in my professional and personal life. Here's a tribute to Maria Lucia Willemsens.

Vera Alves is the Chief Consulting Officer at Leader Essentials Group, with extensive experience in leadership development and business management. With over 12 years of experience as a C-suite executive, Vera is highly skilled in leadership, strategic planning, operations management, organizational behavior, and change management. In addition, she possesses highly developed communication, training, and linguistic skills reflective of a very strong and charismatic leadership style.

_________________________________________________________________________ [1] Gleeson, B. (2021). Resilience in leadership: how to lead and win despite change and obstacles. Forbes. Retrieved from Resilience In Leadership: How To Lead And Win Despite Change And Obstacles (, 08/10/2021. [2] Purcell, J. (2020). Resilience: The Key To Future Business Success. Forbes. Retrieved from Resilience: The Key To Future Business Success (, 08/10/2021. [3] Duckworth, A. L., Peterson, C., Matthews, M. D., & Kelly, D. R. (2007). Grit: perseverance and passion for long-term goals. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 92(6), 1087. [4]American Psychological Association (2012). Building your resilience. Retrieved from Building your resilience (, 08/10/2021. [5] Cross, R. et al. (2021). The Secret to Building Resilience. Harvard Business Review. Retrieved from The Secret to Building Resilience (, 08/10/2021. [6] Ovans, A. (2015). What resilience means, and why it matters. Harvard Business Review, 5. Retrieved from What Resilience Means, and Why It Matters (, 08/10/2021.

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