Leadership and Resilience

Dec 18, 2020

On 9 December 2020, the Leadership Centre hosted a virtual discussion about leadership and resilience in the time of the pandemic. The topic was proposed by a number of alumni of the Centre’s various leadership programmes and the event was attended by some 25 alumni, clients, enablers and Leadership Centre Trustees.

The discussion was broadly structured around three dimensions:

  • Community resilience
  • Personal resilience
  • Organisational resilience.

Prompted by contributions from three participants, two periods of group discussion provided a forum for what proved to be constructive and illuminating exchanges. This note highlights some of the key points.

Community Resilience

COVID 19 is an exceptional event, calling for novel responses. However, resilience is and always has been a characteristic of communities around the country. Key learning from the pandemic appears to be a reminder that communities have a great deal to contribute when facing not just novel crises like COVID but also sadly continuing challenges such as inequality and discrimination.

For the future, participants are motivated to look more to communities to devise and deliver effective responses to these prevailing ‘wicked issues’. One particularly memorable quote: ‘The people closest to the pain should be closest to the power’.               

Personal Resilience

A number of participants spoke of the physical and mental demands of recent months. Good, frank personal relationships were cited as important to weathering the storms. The importance of listening was reinforced. And the value of opportunities for open but private exchanges with leadership peers.

For the future, leaders are keen to nurture their personal and peer relationships: to have opportunities to expose some of their own uncertainties in a safe environment. Again, a quote, ‘I know I have to be a heroic leader some of the time; but I need space to be vulnerable too’.

Organisational Resilience

A number of participants pointed to the effect of the pandemic in reinforcing and enriching existing cross-organisational relationships. Others referred to the unexpected and ‘unnatural’ networks which had emerged. These relationships depended on the creation and maintenance of trust.

For the future, participants are keen to build on this positive legacy of the pandemic. One particularly striking theme emerged: ‘Rather than talk about recovery, let’s strive for renewal’.

What’s next:

Joe Simpson, Director of the Leadership Centre, committed to taking forward the outcomes from the session and to building a programme of activities and events around theses outcomes. These activities and events will be designed alongside our networks and will launch in the New Year.

A visual capture of the Leadership and Resilience Event


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