Resilience is a Latin word that has come to mean ‘leap forward.’ The term has entered the fields of technology, particularly farming and geography. This is the most genial definition of resilience used later in psychology by Emmy Werner, an American psychologist. She studied 700 children in Hawaii born in the 1950s, without school or family, and found them thirty years later. She found that 28% of these children had learned to read and write without school, had started a family, and were no more neurotic than the rest of the population. His work was the starting point for countless research projects.
Resilience is not just about resisting; it is about learning to live. This life-changing book points the way towards hope and happiness.
Today, this concept is so embedded in the culture that it gives rise to misunderstandings. Resilience is not the selection of the strongest! On the contrary, it is born out of weakness. To be resilient, you must be surrounded by and helped. By others, by the culture, by the environment.
While resilience has generally found wide public acceptance, it has also had its share of controversies. The most critical psychologists go so far as to deny the phenomenon’s existence, even though it is widely supported by research today.
Can our mind be reduced to this simple type of reflex? Some psychologists wonder. What is the point of the psychologist’s work if it is a natural reaction? But for Boris Cyrulnik, resilience is not a simple reflex. It is a process that can (or cannot) be encouraged in therapeutic work, hence the idea of ‘assisted resilience’. Other authors have questioned the moral implications of this concept. Serge Tisseron expressed his fear of an ideology of happiness where resilient people would be put on a pedestal, especially since resilience is not necessarily synonymous with exemplarity, since one can become resilient by developing on the side of perversion and psychopathy.
For Cyrulnik, resilience is the exact opposite of Darwinism, which strengthens the weak.
Companies today face storms they never imagined they would have to weather. Yet, more than ever, they must strive for greater resilience. So, how do you cope, how do you react, how do you bounce back? These questions, which define the process of strength, are the ones that business leaders are asking themselves today as they struggle daily for the continuity and economic development of their organisations.
The role of the business leader in the resilience of their organisation is crucial: they must take a step back to redefine the company’s perspectives and identity, set a course while listening to employees, guarantee working conditions that are favourable to the employee’s equilibrium, promote diversity, create cohesion, and facilitate access to culture. At all times, it must be agile and adaptable. It must also embody a substantial, meaningful corporate project to combat the development of anxiety among employees. Fear must be fought, based on the academic observation that an anxious brain, which cannot evacuate chronic stress, locks up and can trigger depression in the affected employee.
Leaders and managers are the cornerstones of an organisation’s resilience. They have everything to gain by looking at this concept and applying it in their daily work. Increasingly accurate scientific research is helping us to define strength. This academic lever deserves to be further developed in the business. In particular, coaching should be used to train leaders and managers in resilience.
By mobilising this lever at the highest level of companies to train their leaders, companies are working towards installing a more peaceful, resilient climate in all strata of their organisations.