Building Resilience in Teams

3 techniques used by the most elite institutions on the planet.

Often when people talk about Resilience it’s talked about as an individual trait – you have it or you don’t, you’ve developed it or you haven’t. More than ever, organisations need Resilient individuals! But Resilience is also a team trait. Here are 3 proven techniques you and your organisation can apply to Build Resilience in your team.


One of things that’s been noticed within many organisations over the past few years, and certainly during the chaos of 2020, is ‘weaponisation’ of the term Resilience. You might have seen or heard the phrase Resilience being thrown at the feet of individuals or teams facing challenging circumstances… “You need to be more Resilient! You need to meditate, you need to eat right, you need to exercise”.


In exploring the training of elite teams, such as within high performance sports or military training, Resilience is almost always built firstly as an individual trait, but also as a team resource! Or put another way, there are individual elements to Resilience that are trained to make an individual highly Resilient, but Resilience is so much more meaningful when it’s developed as a social resource, or a shared resource among the collective team.


Within Navy Seal training for example, incredible importance is placed on a group’s ability to team. You can be the best individual operator, someone who is nailing all the tests, someone who is making it through one of the toughest ‘entrance exams’ of all time. But if by the end of the training you have not teamed with your colleagues, you will not make it through as a Navy Seal. They don’t just require you to individually make it through, they require you to bond with a group of others who allow you to get through the training! Also seen in military circles is the idea of ‘hive mind’, or thinking as one. This involves not having to think about what you are doing, everyone just inherently knowing their roles and adjusting to whatever comes at them.


So how do the most elite teams on the planet build Resilience? Here’s 3 techniques…they Build their Resilience together, they Harness Belief State, and they Become Mission driven!



What do elite teams do?

They Build Resilience together…

Often when we are talking about Resilience we talk about it as an individual trait – you have it or you don’t, you’ve developed it or you haven’t, and that puts a lot of pressure on the individual – “I’m not being Resilient, there’s something wrong with me or I’m doing something wrong”. You can be the most Resilient person in the world, but if your team isn’t then it doesn’t mean much. And vice versa, you may not be the most Resilient person on the planet but if you’re part of a highly Resilient team, it elevates you.

Members of highly Resilient teams have learned to build their individual Resilience, but so have their colleagues. They’ve collectively learned a practical and proven set of Resilience abilities, enabling them to talk the same talk, and walk the same walk for harnessing a Resilient mindset and Resilient habits day-to-day. The collective team is setup to support each other during even the toughest challenges, and hold each other accountable for monitoring and maintaining optimal performance, as a unit!



They Harness Belief state…

Belief state refers to the level of belief you have in your ability, and about the task ahead of you. It has been found to significantly influence your task success. Visualising what’s required, visualising what’s possible, visualising that you’ve been there before and you’ve gotten through it, creates a belief state that you will get through the challenge ahead and it makes you far more Resilient.

Belief state is strongly linked to story-telling and mythology. One of the groups that is a master of this is the New Zealand All Blacks Rugby team, one of the most successful sporting teams of all time. They are widely renowned as one of the most Resilient teams of any sports, and they are widely renowned as one of the best examples of performance under pressure as a group. A lot of it comes down to the story-telling and mythology that creates a sense of belonging and cohesion that leads them to being highly Resilient. When you dig into their culture, everything about it is based on story-telling. It’s based on mythology. It’s based on if you are part of this team then you to deeply understand the people who have gone before you. Understanding you are really standing on the shoulders of giants and it means something to be part of that team.

To build a strong Belief State, team leaders and members signal to their colleagues ‘we have your back no matter what’. The leader or organisation backs this up by saying ‘we hear and we feel what you are going through, and we are going to make things better for you’. Every little way your organisation can focus on signalling that one thing ‘we see you, we hear you, we appreciate you, and we are working to make it better even though this situation may suck’ – ensuring people know the team or institution has their back, that is what makes a Resilient team, that is what leaders and organisations need to strive for!


They Become Mission driven…

There’s also a mission aspect to elite performance. A mission driven team or organisation is primed to be more Resilient. In it’s simplest form, being mission oriented is about understanding why you are getting up and going to work every day. Knowing that you are part of a larger mission shared by others, all striving towards the same goal. Large organisations become siloed because they have grown so much, so someone in Finance has the mission of ensuring ‘our bottom line stays in the green’, while someone in HR might say ‘I’m waking up to make sure that our people are supported today’. When you have all these people within teams and across organisations waking up with different missions in mind, it creates low Resilience. Because nobody cares about the overall mission, they just care about their mission which they’ve tied to their job performance, which they’ve then tied to their job security, which they then tie overall to doing well in their life.

When you have a team or organisation that is mission oriented, everyone is united to achieve the single same mission, everyone is pulling together to achieve a single goal and nothing else matters. New York Hospitals right now for example, their mission is to look after the community in the face of overwhelming odds, and every single healthcare worker has dropped everything to prioritise this mission of winning the fight against Covid-19. As a result, the collective team is primed to be more Resilient and we are seeing this in the response and efforts of frontline healthcare workers across many institutions, all with a Mission driven focus!


So how do you and your organisation Build Resilience in teams? By taking affirmative action in the ways discussed above, you will be systematically building Resilience, and putting your organisation in a greater position to thrive through the current challenges, and those ahead! But you don’t need to do it alone… Our Mission driven purpose at ripen involves helping teams and organisations like yours, to reach high Resilience – fast.


Talk to us today about our globally delivered Resilience training courses, and arm your team with the skills, tools and strategies to reach high resilience, fast!



Content transcribed and adapted from ‘Slope of the Curve’, WorkingNation.

Friedman, T. (2016). Thank you for being late – an optimists guide to thriving in the age of acceleration. Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux.

Image credits: Graph – ‘Thank you for being late’, Thomas Friedman, 2016, p.32

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