Resilience and Brilliance: You Can’t Have One Without the Other

By Spencer Hulse Spencer Hulse has been verified by Muck Rack's editorial team
Published on May 15, 2024

Business can be equated to surfing in the ocean. You will get knocked off your board by change, uncertainty, and customer defection, but it’s your resilience that allows you to get back on the board, and it’s your brilliance that allows you to catch the next wave.

Simon T. Bailey, the world’s leading expert in brilliance, released his groundbreaking research State of Working America Report Thriving in Resilience and Brilliance. It reveals profound insights into Working America today.

According to the research, when asked to select the qualities that define resilience, Working America overwhelmingly said it’s perseverance, grit, and problem-solving. On the other hand, when asked to select the qualities that define brilliance, they said intelligence, creativity, and confidence.

Here’s the bottom line, though. The quality really needed to thrive in the chaotic, fast-paced, competitive, confusing, and ever-evolving world is resilience paired with brilliance. Resilience may be the glove, but brilliance is the hand that goes into that glove.

The workplace imperative now is “well-being.” Resilience decreases stress and reduces burnout, while brilliance increases psychological capital, innovation, and the potential to go beyond the call of duty without being asked to do so.

Becoming Brilliant by Cultivating Intelligence

To uncover Working America’s perception of brilliance, researchers explored a variety of qualities that could be essential to creating brilliance. One quality stood far above the others: intelligence. So, how can leaders empower their teams to develop member intelligence?

Bailey suggests leaders consider who on the team has the potential to lead and allow them to test-drive taking the helm. For example, task a potential high performer with a chance to organize the next team meeting by putting together the agenda. Give them a chance to lead the discussion, providing feedback on various issues and questioning team members to go deeper. Debrief with them afterward about what they learned and what would they do differently.

Furthermore, leaders can challenge team members to create an L&D (Learning & Development) portfolio of specific skills learned, projects they’ve contributed to, and on the job training they’ve acquired. On a quarterly basis, leaders can invite team members to review their portfolios and make changes or decide how they will increase their value.

Brilliant Leaders Enhance Job Performance and Tenure

Over eight out of ten people in the U.S. workforce say that when they feel confident in their brilliance, they are more engaged and committed in their learning and development, leading to better workforce performance, while 65% say they are likely to stay longer at their current jobs. Yet, the data shows that 40% of working Americans think their manager is not effective at coaching them at work. How can leaders become more effective coaches and profit from the positive effect on team performance and stability?

There are three ways for leaders to capitalize on the positive effect on team performance:

  • Commit to coaching. Understand the difference between rational commitment and emotional commitment. Rational is “I have to coach.” Emotional commitment is “I want to coach.”
  • Attitude is key. In their groundbreaking work where they interviewed 66,000 students in grades 6-12, Dr. Russell Quaglia and Dr. Michael Corso found that “When students think they can be successful and believe the teacher thinks they can be successful, they are eight times more likely to be motivated to learn than students who don’t have those beliefs.” Coaching a team member to achieve their brilliance is all about instilling beliefs in them that they can and will succeed. It’s reinforcing what is right about them instead of what’s wrong with them.
  • Realize you create a lasting impact. Your team feeds off your energy. Every day they are catching from you how to think and respond to triumphs and challenges. Leadership is caught and taught. What are people catching from you as they follow you?

What Leaders Lack Most

When asked about the elements of brilliance that are most lacking from work leaders, being supportive and compassionate were foremost, followed by coaching and empathy.

This input can be used to benefit employees, their managers, and the overall organization as it seeks to develop brilliance across its workforce by incorporating these traits into the annual strategic objectives that are created by leadership. Leaders, managers, and their teams can then be held accountable by key performance indicators (KPIs) to ensure that brilliance is being developed across the workforce. Furthermore, based on the data, organizations can add a question to their employee satisfaction survey to verify if, in fact, their brilliance is being released or blocked.

Growth or Grit?

One of their findings was that women are significantly more likely than men to say that growth and vulnerability are most essential to creating resilience in life, while men were significantly more likely to say that grit is most essential to creating resilience in life.

It’s important for organizations to know how to engage each gender accordingly to maximize performance. How is a company amplifying the voices of women to ensure that they are growing? Is the organization being forthright, ethical, and consistent in providing opportunities for their voices to be heard? At the same time, it’s important for the organization to ensure that men know that they matter and their approach to work is as important.

It’s been said that men apply for a job with 60% of the qualified requirements and women only apply for a job where they know that they have 100% of the quality requirements. In the spirit of resilience, organizations need to make sure that women can lean into grit, and men can adapt growth and vulnerability to balance the eco-system of high performance.

Working from Home and the Age Gap

In a shocking insight, Generation Z (those 20-26 years old) appear to be significantly more likely than older generations to constantly or often experience 10 of the 11 emotions tested at work, and most significantly stress, frustration, and anxiety. In addition, 46% of working Americans believe their manager cares less about the well-being of remote workers, including 52% of Gen Z.

GenZ needs organizations to ask how they can best be served. What’s important to them in their career? How would they like to grow? Some approaches Bailey offers include:

  • Provide a mentor or sponsor to help them navigate the ocean of uncertainty in a company.
  • Create a regular cadence of checking in every 90 days on how they are doing.
  • Shift language from onboarding to welcoming them into the organization.
  • Promote the idea that the organization is launching a career rather than just offering a “job.”. This shift in perception invites Gen Z to buy in early since they believe the company is vested in them.

Trauma in the Workplace

Not having a positive emotional experience at work creates all kinds of negative outcomes, both on the job and outside of work, yet 40% of working Americans reported not feeling like their place of work is a positive emotional experience, and an astonishing 56% of working Americans say their co-workers gossip about other employees at work every week.

Addressing trauma in the workplace is critical for maintaining a healthy work environment and ensuring employees feel supported and valued. Managers and leaders can play a significant role in providing trauma care and fostering a positive workplace experience. It is management’s imperative to teach managers how to provide “trauma care” for employees and team members. Here’s an outline of strategies Bailey suggests they implement:

  • Education and awareness. Begin by understanding that the psychological impact of trauma is essential.
  • Provide training for managers and supervisors to recognize signs of trauma and stress in employees.
  • Share resources about trauma and mental health regularly with all employees to raise awareness and normalize discussions around these topics.
  • Create a supportive environment with open communication. Foster an atmosphere where employees feel safe to discuss their concerns and experiences without fear of judgment or retribution.
  • Regularly check in individually with team members to offer support and understand their needs better, especially after a crisis or stressful events.
  • Provide access to professional help. Ensure employees have access to EAPs (Employee Assistance Programs) that provide confidential counseling services. Promote these services actively and make sure employees know how to access them.
  • Maintain a list of external mental health professionals and organizations that employees can turn to for specialized care.
  • Offer flexible working hours and the possibility of remote work for employees dealing with trauma, allowing them personal space and time to cope and recover.
  • Implement and communicate leave policies that allow employees to take mental health days off without penalty.
  • Host workshops and seminars on resilience, stress management, and coping strategies. Bring in experts to conduct these sessions to provide employees with practical tools to handle personal and professional challenges.
  • Facilitate the creation of peer support groups within the workplace where employees can share experiences and coping strategies in a supportive environment.

And perhaps most importantly, leaders should model healthy behavior, including setting boundaries, managing stress effectively, and using EAP resources themselves. This sets a positive example and reduces the stigma around seeking help.

By implementing these strategies, managers and leaders can help mitigate the impact of trauma. This not only improves individual employee experience, it enhances overall productivity and workplace morale.

Embracing Your Leadership Role

As Simon T. Bailey emphatically points out, “Society is currently witnessing a tsunami of transformation. Unleashing your brilliance along with resilience is how you and your organization will ride the wave of life.” The route there is charted in his latest book, Resilience@Work: How to Coach Yourself Into a Thriving Future.

By Spencer Hulse Spencer Hulse has been verified by Muck Rack's editorial team

Spencer Hulse is the Editorial Director at Grit Daily. He is responsible for overseeing other editors and writers, day-to-day operations, and covering breaking news.

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