4 Leadership Trends and Practices that Help Build Team Resilience

by / ⠀Career Advice Entrepreneurship / April 7, 2023
team building

“Success is not final, failure is not fatal; it is the courage to continue that counts.” ~ Winston Churchill

The key factor in building a successful, efficient team with the capacity to survive and thrive long-term is resilience. That is, to be flexible and persistent in the face of inevitable economic changes. These changes are what businesses have faced in recent years and will continue to face in 2023.

According to the MIT Sloan Management Review, along with local and portfolio agility, resilience is having the ability to withstand the economic shocks of our times. This means understanding customer needs, having access to external financial resources, and providing employees with education opportunities and healthcare. Resilience is finding other ways to diversify and become recession-proof in times of economic instability.

To help you create a strong, tenacious workforce, I will list the best trends and practices for leaders. These can help build and support team resilience in the workplace.

1. Adopt an Unbreakable System

My new book, Unbreakable: Building and Leading Resilient Teams, coauthored with Adam Stoverink, serves as a valuable resource for business leaders looking to learn more about building team resilience. The book focuses on four pillars that are crucial for any team when building resilience. They include team confidence, teamwork roadmaps, a team’s ability to improvise, and team psychological safety.

One of the most important elements, from my research and perspective, of a truly resilient team, is building an environment in which individuals can be open and honest. The secret here is that if people can trust one another, they’ll feel safe and confident. This can be done by allowing space for respectful open dialogue and idea exchanges. All of these learned skills and qualities create a better foundation for individuals to then do the right thing at the right time when adversity or the unexpected strikes.


Ultimately, the key to adopting an unbreakable system that supports highly productive and innovative teams in the best and worst of times is simple. Start with an easy-to-navigate, flexible, and secure business environment that provides a safe space for employees to do their work. Foster innovation and allow employees the space to fail, learn, and correct mistakes. In turn, you will begin to see a more close-knit team culture, including in hybrid settings.

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This includes data to back it, as nine out of 10 want the flexibility of remote work, and more specifically, six in 10 employees want a hybrid environment. You will also see leaders placing greater emphasis on ethical leadership methods and employee well-being.

2. Ethical Leadership Training

Recent years of uncertainty and change have demonstrated the importance of and need for values-based leadership. Entrepreneurs that have a clear vision of what ethical considerations and values drive their organization are able to inspire trust and build resilience in teams.

Leaders that are looking to attract top talent and enhance customer satisfaction must focus on ethical leadership methods for the greatest return. This means stepping away from toxic work environments and more traditional leadership styles, and instead using ethical management training in diversity, equity, and inclusion (DE&I), unconscious bias, and conflict management to support team resilience.

According to Indeed, “ethical leadership can provide value to businesses by inspiring employees to be motivated and live up to the company’s values.” Business leaders that build high-quality relationships with employees and demonstrate what honesty, integrity, trust, and fairness mean to the company are able to greatly improve employee satisfaction and productivity.

3. Support a Hybrid Workplace

Perhaps one of the most dramatic and challenging changes of previous years has been the shift from traditional in-office work settings to remote-only or hybrid workplaces. Post-pandemic leadership is now about balancing business needs with employee preferences while maintaining engaged and productive teams.

For leaders to support a hybrid work environment, it is essential that managers place greater focus on time management, effective communication, and emotional intelligence skills. According to the Harvard Business Review, more desk-based employees are searching for reasonable flexibility and support in this new age of hybrid work.

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HBR’s hybrid management study found that employees in today’s workforce “are looking for flexibility when it comes to what they work on, who they work with, and the amount they work – in particular, control over and stability in their work schedule, as well as paid leave.”

A great implementation of hybrid work for companies involved three things. These include in-person team meetings, one-on-one meetings with managers, and collaboration while together in the office. When at home, employees focus more on individual tasks on their plates. In this way, in-office and in-home hours become maximized. Much of the time, this makes hybrid environments work for everyone.

Such new approaches to hybrid management will continue to evolve when it comes to establishing resilient teams, whether it is during times of economic strife or withstanding a highly competitive marketplace.

4. Mental Health and Wellness

To be a successful leader, you must not only be passionate about your work and dedicated to your company’s mission. It is also essential that you create an inviting and engaging environment for every employee. This includes everyone who works under the company’s umbrella. According to the Microsoft Work Trends Report, 53% of employees are more likely than they were pre-pandemic to prioritize health and well-being. Leaders would be wise to take heed.


For hybrid and remote leaders, this begins with improving internal communication methods and getting to know your team members on a more interpersonal level and being intentional about fostering intrateam connections. Unlike in traditional office settings, hybrid and remote teams rarely enjoy the luxury of meeting in the same room. This limits direct contact with one another and eliminates organic conversations that are critical to building strong relationships. It’s no surprise that in a recent Pew Research Center study, six out of ten employees who switched from in-person to remote now report that they’re less connected to their coworkers. This can cause unnecessary stress and confusion. This is especially true for decision-making, managing daily projects and workflows, and effectively serving customers.

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Research from Gallup shows us that burnout, often associated with anxiety and depression, leads employees to take 63% more sick days, 23% more emergency room visits, and results in a 13% reduction in workplace confidence, among other notable statistics. Ultimately, this is not just an issue for the employee, but for the employer as well.

As a result, some companies have chosen to use the pandemic as an opportunity to create more resilient teams. They create these by implementing policies, leadership practices, and new perspectives focused on emotional health and well-being. For example, IBM wanted to address the workforce mental health crisis and provide effective services to foster whole-company resilience.

Eliminate Barriers

You want to address issues, such as burnout before they even become problems in the first place. To do this, eliminate barriers for employees throughout their workday. Are meetings too long? Is the space not conducive for individual work and, on the other hand, collaboration? Make the workplace a space they get excited about rather than one they dread.

Another way to address burnout is to make your culture one in which well-being is at the forefront of policies. Create days for extra time off without making employees use PTO. Provide access to mental health resources by building them into the healthcare plan. Or, once a month, place team lunches on everyone’s calendar in which the company treats. Small details for you become the big details for employees and their well-being.

Final Thoughts

When it comes to what leadership trends and practices you should be focusing on this year, consider the overall values and mission of your company. Also, consider the corporate responsibility towards the growth and well-being of your teams. This can take different forms depending on your organization and teams. But, it has been proven to be highly effective for building resilient teams that can withstand any storm.

About The Author

Bradley L. Kirkman

Bradley L. Kirkman is the General (Ret.) H. Hugh Shelton Distinguished Professor of Leadership in the Department of Management, Innovation, and Entrepreneurship in the Poole College of Management at North Carolina State University. He is the author of Unbreakable: Building and Leading Resilient Teams (Stanford University Press, 2023) and 3D Team Leadership: A New Approach for Complex Teams (2017, Stanford University Press). His consulting and research focuses on leadership, remote/hybrid teams, work team leadership and empowerment, and international management.