In part two of our two-part series on resilience, we have Ms Bhawana Mishra back on the podcast to talk to us on resilience and leadership. If you haven’t heard part 1 of this series, please click here 

Bhawana is the Founder and Managing director at Basil Tree consulting.

Before founding Basil Tree, Bhawana was the business director at SHL and has helped many companies make assessments a part of their employee life cycle. She also has a master’s degree in applied psychology from the University of Delhi and is certified in a range of global psychometric tools, assessments and training processes.

Listen to the podcast here or read the transcript below



 What impact can resilient leaders have on their teams?

Bhawana – To answer that, let’s go back to our original grouping of what we said resilience was. And we said there are three components to it, emotional, mental, and social. Now, imagine a resilient leader, the first thing that will happen if they are emotionally resilient, is that people will feed off each other as opposed to suffering alone. And the current circumstances that we’re in is a good example. Right? Are we supporting one another and being a facilitative network and providing that emotional support to one another? I call it the I’m not alone feeling and that itself is the first starting point of engagement, which again, a lot of organizations with their very left-brain thinking are busy measuring right on where are we on our engagement scores.

The first impact of engagement is actually from your emotional Connect. And a resilient leader will be the starting point of building a resilient organization emotionally and one that is more engaged. The second is the mental component of resilience, and the most obvious impact will be if the leader has a strong sense of strategic direction and purpose. You then build that in the organization as a team as well. So, why are we here? And where are we going? That’s the question you’re trying to answer for the whole organization. That’s where a lot of organizations fail, with/without stresses because people are not necessarily aligned to the same set of shared purpose and even tactically the goals that they are working towards. And the third and final component is the social resilience. If the leader is socially resilient, it’s that we’re in it together feeling right. This is where trust and a genuine sense of collaboration come in that we fail together. We rise together. And that’s where leadership kicks in, in terms of really being quiet, quite all-pervasive across the organization in your thinking, feeling and relating to people, domains. So yeah, I mean, there couldn’t be anything more vital at this point of time for organizations than actually a very strong, resilient, not just leader, but the leadership of leading the organization.

 What is the impact of resilience on Emotional Intelligence?

Bhawana– So emotional intelligence is much harder to change as a concept, right? It’s much more hardwired inside us because of the set of personality traits that contribute to it. So as a result, it also takes much longer to change because of the number of variables involved. Resilience is that much more behavioural and something we can work on much more actively and with greater success. So, there is a relationship, but I would call to use jargon a little bit of resilience being an intermediating variable towards greater Emotional Intelligence. So it’s something that we can work on much more in the short term, especially if you look at current circumstances. It is something that organizations can focus on building in their people, as opposed to going about the entire piece of emotional intelligence, which will be a very large bite to bite into at one shot.

I’m reminded of a great example for us of the story of the South African rugby team when Nelson Mandela became the South African president, right after apartheid was over. And what they did together to change from a team that was defunct than dying and the entire country was ready to give it up. And from being in that state to becoming a team that one year later went on to win the World Cup in rugby is quite a case study in resilience. So, for me now, bringing emotional intelligence, which was the question they asked if that was something they were dealing in individuals across the whole team, you couldn’t possibly achieve it in such a short time. But they were focused. They knew what they needed to do. And you could see how they brought about all facets of emotional, mental and social resilience to build it in the entire team starting with the captain as well. So aside from me, it’s a must-watch film that was made on this subject called Invictus. And absolutely something that you must see if you haven’t, but yeah, so resilience is vital. It’s on the path to the emotional intelligence, and something that we can work on more tangibly and immediately in the current times.

Can resilience be inculcated into a company’s culture? If yes, have you seen a company do this successfully?

Ans- It goes back again to what we’ve been talking about Bharath, it has to start with the leader, right? And that’s where culture begins anyway, every individual contributes to it, but no one more than absolutely the top leader, the board and the CEO, and then the leadership team and then everyone else. And the first step towards that is to be able to understand where they are today on their resilience, and how do you then go about building it? Management books are full of case studies on companies that have demonstrated resilience. Lee Iacocca perhaps being a story very close to my heart with what he did with Chrysler. Much after his Ford stent was already super successful and behind him, and what they did again, much like the South African rugby team, from being an organization that didn’t believe in themselves to go about achieving a supersonic commercial success is a case study in resilience. So, I believe that with the times the world is going through, you’ll see a lot many more case studies on resilience emerge. And I can safely bet that a lot of them will be Indian stories as well.