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Is Resilience Always Good?

Resilience – the ability to withstand and overcome, persevere and drive forward – is often seen as an admirable trait and a way to demonstrate business leadership.

Yet there are times when the notion of resilience can be problematic. Is resilience always good?

Moderation the Key

Resilience is developed due to experiencing hardship. An overreliance on any admirable or positive trait can turn a strength into a weakness quickly.

When used in moderation and context, resilience can be a powerful force. It’s associated with concepts such as durability, strength, recovery, and fortitude.

At work, resilience allows people to treat problems as learning opportunities where new skills can be honed. It can manifest itself as a spirit of optimism in people and one’s self.

Resilience can create a sense of calm in chaos, allowing people to accept situations as presented, assess, problem-solve and persevere, even if obstacles present themselves or potential solutions fail.

The Down Side of Resilience

While there are many admirable sides of resilience, it can be, at times, problematic. Taking a closer look at the concept of resilience can illustrate its dark side.

Here are a few ways that resilience can become a detriment to business leadership and business strategy.

1. Too Much Persistence

An overvaluing of resilience can cause some people to pursue blindly goals that are unrealistic, unreasonable or unattainable. There’s something to be said for someone who has big aspirations, time and resources can be wasted with pursuing the impossible. Leaders need to have enough awareness, data, and counsel to recognize when the best course of action is to pivot or change the focus.

2. Too Much Tolerance

A Gallup study showed that 50 percent of employees choose to leave an employer because of their boss. And two-thirds of those surveyed in a separate poll call their direct supervisor the worst part of the job. Why do so many people stay in a bad situation and tolerate bad relationships?

A high tolerance for resilience may be to blame. With such low unemployment rates and a high degree of mobility, there are plenty of options for job movement. People who displayed less resilience would be more likely to pursue a better work situation, either in a different organization or working for themselves.

Resilience can negatively affect teams, leaders, and projects if not used appropriately.

3. Poor Team Performance

When a leader is too resilient, by extension their teams, organizations, projects, and outcomes suffer, too. A 2016 study showed that resilience can result in unhealthy relationships, a retreat from social situations and have an impact on work burnout.

Bold leaders who see themselves as superheroes in the face of adversity may be lauded but there’s a dark side. People with such traits may lack self-awareness, making it more difficult for them to achieve career success and leadership traits. Bold leaders may not be able to adjust their approach, leading to denial, delusion, and disconnection among their teams.

Honing resilience, within the proper perspective and context can be a valuable attribute for business leaders. Knowing when to recognize the downsides of resilience can strengthen one’s use of the trait even further.