Resilience and Leadership

Business leaders inevitably encounter increased pressure from a wide range of sources; the responsibility of managing a team, dealing with fast paced and changing markets, reacting to increased business competition, and adapting to dynamic digital transformation are a few examples. High levels of stress and anxiety can result in declining work performance.

At PSI, we understand that developing resilience to face challenges and changes is core to helping leaders with sustainable high performance. Our Resilience Questionnaire has helped more than 10,000 people across 93 countries to assess their level of Resilience. The insight from the assessment serves as a basis to build development strategies, helping leaders boost their resilience.

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What is Resilience?

PSI defines resilience in the workplace as an individual’s capacity to adapt positively to pressure, setbacks, challenges, and change in order to achieve peak performance at work.

This capacity for resilience can be developed and honed through learning and experience, and applied to a variety of settings. High levels of resilience enable an individual to achieve peak performance at work and reframe the challenges and pressures into positive opportunities for learning and development.


Benefits of Resilience in Leaders

A quarter of employees view their job as the number one cause of stress1 and 67% of leaders struggle with stress2 due to the high level of pressure they face in their day-to-day job.

Naturally, as employees look to leaders for positive support, motivation, and guidance, a resilient leader can therefore positively impact not only their own performance, but that of their employees and the business at all levels.

Learn more about the importance of resilience at work

A resilient leader speaking to colleagues
Icons representing 8 core areas of the Resilience Model

What Makes a Resilient Leader?

PSI has created a model of resilience based on 8 strategies, which leaders use to be more resilient. This model covers strategies for measuring and developing personal attitudes and self-belief, behaviors, and emotional control – all of which make for resilient leadership.

Self Belief

Recognizing and examining personal beliefs and attitudes is important for leaders in order to place themselves in a position of strength and optimism as well as setting a positive example for their employees. This can be a daunting prospect in itself, however, with the right support and guidance, can be an excellent opportunity for self-reflection and goal determination.

Purposeful Direction

Being adaptable, responsive, and purposeful in action is critical in order for leaders to drive towards their own, and the business’s goals. Equally important is being able to adapt quickly and inventively to challenges and changing circumstances, especially if these are not predicted or unprecedented.

Emotion Regulation

An emotional reaction is often the first an individual will experience to an adverse circumstance or challenge in any area of life, and work is no different. Understanding how they are likely to react can enable the leader to predict and control their emotions in stressful situations.


All these strategies will reflect on employees and determine how the team reacts to change and challenges. If their leader is optimistic, confident, and reacts positively and calmly to a challenge, employees will most likely follow in the same path. The resilient leader will focus the attention of the team on the end goal and provide them with the support they need rather than letting them panic.

Download our White Paper to learn how to become a resilient leader

Agile and Resilient Leadership


Challenge established thinking to innovate

Resilient leaders are very flexible in the way they think and act. Similarly, agile leaders are able to challenge established knowledge or thinking, not just for the sake of it, but to ensure it is still relevant to their situation. Looking at a situation through different perspectives allows them to find new, innovative ideas.

Use challenges to learn and perform better

Resilience develops a taste for challenges. In the same way, agile leaders look to learn from the challenges they experienced to improve their performance going forward.

Seek feedback and learn from it

Resilient individuals are willing to seek support when they need it while agile individuals are seeking feedback to be able to learn from it. Both skills go hand in hand to develop self-awareness and be more successful.

Take good risks

Resilient leaders don’t let their emotions take over. Agile leaders are ready to take progressive risks by exploring new territories to find opportunities but not just for the thrill of it.


If a leader is looking to become more resilient, they should also look to be more agile as these skills complement each other and influence success positively.

Learn more about agile leadership with our on-demand webinar

How to Develop Resilience in Leaders

Resilience is often a capacity that’s enabled an individual to progress to the level of leader in the first place. However, the growing pressure in the higher echelons can test even the most resilient senior managers and each must maintain and grow on their resilience skill sets.

There are three key areas which are essential in the mastering of resilient leadership:

1. Building self-awareness

The individual must recognize their part in developing their own resilience and commit to building upon this. The Resilience Questionnaire, is ideal for prompting this self-awareness.

2. Learning from experience

Self-reflection is an invaluable and often overlooked skill for the development of personal resilience. Using the insight from the Resilience Questionnaire, development plans can be created which will help to improve future performance.

3. Reframing beliefs & attitudes

Negative thinking, pessimism, and fear of the unknown have been shown to be huge barriers to developing resilience. Resilience coaching can help a leader on a journey to develop their resilience and meet the ongoing change within today’s organizations.

Our experts will discuss how we can build programs that will support your leaders, and help them develop their resilience.

  1. “NIOSH: Stress at Work” –
  2. “Business leaders struggling with stress”, HR Magazine –
  3. “4 Qualities That Make an Agile Leader” –

Help Your Leaders be More Resilient

Learn More About Resilience at Work

On-demand Webinar: Resilience, the Key to Thriving During Challenge and Change

During this session, our speakers discuss what resilience means for your organization in today’s complex environment and how you can enable your employees to thrive.

White Paper: How to Become a Resilient Leader

How can resilience support today’s leaders? This White Paper explains what is resilience and how it impacts leadership; and covers how to develop resilience in leaders.

Building Resilience And Well-Being In Your Organization

To support you in the current climate, we’ve pulled together a selection of complimentary services that we believe will help you, and your teams, uphold resilience and well-being.