Resilience is a capacity which helps people and organisations respond well to challenge, setback and even crisis. It describes the ability to ‘bounce back’, to recover and respond with commitment and optimism.

It is not an innate quality which people either have or don’t have, it can be learned and developed in anyone. Organisations can also develop greater resilience, partly through planning and foresight, but the most important aspect comes back to people again; resilient teams and employees mean the organisation will be able to function better when things get tough.

Being resilient doesn’t mean being problem-free, but the qualities that ensure a resilient character enable the individual to better respond to challenge. Resilient people are robust because of their understanding of themselves, confidence in their abilities and willingness to take action in the face of adversity. Marcos and Macauley say:

“Resilience won’t make your problems go away. But resilience can give you the ability to see past them, find enjoyment in life and handle stress better. If you aren’t as resilient as you’d like to be, you can develop skills to become more resilient.” (p.1 2008)

Personal Resilience

We all encounter stress, adversity, trauma or tragedy in our lives, and at work this often takes the form of change, redundancy, the consequent uncertainty and increased demand, all of which are stressful. Personal resilience means one can respond in a robust way to keep functioning, both psychologically and physically.

“Resilience isn’t about toughing it out or living by old cliches, such as “grin and bear it.” It doesn’t mean you ignore your feelings. When adversity strikes, you still experience anger, grief and pain, but you’re able to go on with daily tasks, remain generally optimistic and go on with your life. Being resilient also doesn’t mean being stoic or going it alone. In fact, being able to reach out to others for support is a key component of being resilient.” (Mayo Clinic)

I help people develop greater personal resilience at work through training and for individuals Personal Consulting.

Organisational resilience

Resilience is the organisational capacity to anticipate major events and change and respond to them proactively and in a way that maintains morale, performance, and productivity. Unpleasant or challenging events in the life of an organisation are not minimised or played down, but neither are they dramatised and exaggerated. A resilient organisation responds to critical period or crisis with purpose, commitment and future-focus.


Marcos, J. Macauley, S. (2008), Organisational Resilience: the Key to Anticipation, Adaptation and Recovery, Cranfield School of Management, available at:, [Accessed: 21/01/11]

Mayo Clinic staff , (2009), Resilience: Build skills to endure hardship [online],  Available at: [Accessed: 21/01/11]

See also
Resilience at work
7 ways to change your thinking
Personal Consulting