How to Develop Resilience in Your Team

Written by: Kelly McSparran
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I am often inspired by stories of teams who can rise above difficult challenges. Apollo 13, the miraculous landing of Captain Sully and his copilot, or the famed rescue of the miners in Chile: these teams’ courage, conviction, and perseverance in the face of adversity move me.

My daily grind is notably less exciting, certainly not Hollywood-worthy.

But leading a small team has taught me the importance of resilience not only in achieving our goals but also in finding more enjoyment and purpose in our work—not to mention how resilience helps to refine my character towards that of Christ.

Here are five passages that speak of resilience and how they can help us to foster more resilience in our teams.

1. Reframe Challenges as Growth Opportunities

Consider it a great joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you experience various trials, because you know that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its full effect, so that you may be mature and complete, lacking nothing. (James 1:2–4 CSB)

Every team faces unique strains and setbacks. As we lead, it is important to look for ways to reframe these inevitable situations as ways of promoting personal and professional growth.

Let us lead our teams to be curious about innovative solutions. Asking great questions is more effective in the long run than providing solutions, and we will often end up with better results. Create a safe environment where teammates can offer new ideas and practice problem-solving.

For interpersonal challenges, let’s encourage character development and emotional intelligence that will serve our teams beyond the immediate crisis. In both secular and ministry settings, these skills will help our teams grow in endurance and maturity so that the next bump in the road is easier to overcome.

2. When the Going Gets Tough… Stay Positive

Now we have this treasure in clay jars, so that this extraordinary power may be from God and not from us. We are afflicted in every way but not crushed; we are perplexed but not in despair; we are persecuted but not abandoned; we are struck down but not destroyed. (2 Corinthians 4:7–9 CSB)

It’s easy to fall into patterns of griping about missed deadlines or overwork. Instead, it is more helpful to model a positive outlook for our teams.

This doesn’t need to look like unfounded optimism or a Pollyanna approach. We can dig in to tackle the issues we face with an honest assessment of the situation, but remaining optimistic and hopeful is an important discipline for any leader.

Sometimes this can be as simple as grabbing donuts as a team for the morning meeting or leaving an encouraging note for a teammate who is struggling.

If you work with nonbelievers, use this as an opportunity to live out the hope you have because of Christ. In a dark world, our sparks of light will shine brightly to those around us.

3. Build Trust by Valuing People

Do nothing out of selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility consider others as more important than yourselves. (Philippians 2:3 CSB)

Camaraderie and trust don’t grow overnight, but these are the keys to resilient teams. One way to build trust is to value people for who they are outside of work. It can make all the difference when we promote a healthy work-life balance, offer flexibility, and help our team members manage a reasonable workload.

Within the workplace, let’s celebrate our teams publicly for successes and shoulder the responsibility when things go wrong. Earn trust by being a safe place for people to share their concerns and get honest feedback.

Teams who work in an environment where they feel supported, valued, and encouraged will operate more collaboratively and creatively.

4. Lead with “Why”

He shepherded them with a pure heart
and guided them with his skillful hands. (Psalm 78:72 CSB)

Leaders need to deeply understand how to maximize the gifts of each person on their team. One of the best ways to motivate your team is to lead with the “why” behind various decisions, projects, and principles.

When we help set clear goals and expectations for our teams and are clear about how each task is integral to the organization’s goals, we provide a sense of purpose that can help to create resiliency.

Early in my career, I remember a manager explaining that creating name tags was not just a menial item on my to-do list but could help people feel seen and appreciated. Another employer explained that their printed products were an essential way to communicate value because their service had no other tangible assets.

These minor clarifications helped me approach my work more intentionally and feel more confident in developing solutions when I hit unexpected issues.

5. Encourage Risks and Be Comfortable with Failure

You rejoice in this, even though now for a short time, if necessary, you suffer grief in various trials so that the proven character of your faith—more valuable than gold which, though perishable, is refined by fire—may result in praise, glory, and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. (1 Peter 1: 6–7 CSB)

Teams that have practiced taking risks in the past will be more comfortable experimenting when the stakes are high.

It is key that we encourage creativity by being comfortable with failure—an idea that is paradoxically uncomfortable for most leaders. You can demonstrate this comfort to your team by sharing your own failures and how you have had to problem-solve and adjust over the years. Clarify what you learned through the process instead of focusing on the missed outcomes.

If someone has fresh ideas, encourage them to experiment and report back. Not every attempt will succeed, but this will cultivate a growth mindset for your team.

During his ministry, the apostle Paul faced persecution and hardships. He endured beatings, imprisonment, and rejection. Yet, he stayed on mission to share the message of Jesus.

Paul’s resilience and perseverance are an inspiration to draw our strength from Christ and to lead our teams to overcome challenges for our greater purpose.

Finally, as we consider resilience in our own teams and lives, let us remember to “not get tired of doing good, for we will reap at the proper time if we don’t give up” (Galatians 6:9 CSB).