Resilience – Why we need it, how we develop it

June 27, 20172 minute read

A common theme in AWESOME discussions has been the need for women at all stages of their career to be willing to take risks and develop resilience. As a participant in the supply chain leaders’ panel at the 2017 Symposium said, “Sometimes we learn our best lessons through things that didn’t go as planned – and you regroup and you move on from there.”

Also at the Symposium, Emerging Leaders participated in a workshop with Daniella Levitt, author of Ready, Set…RISK! — Positive Strategies and Tactics for Women to Turn Career Risk into Opportunity. In talking about risk, Daniella said, “When we don’t take these risks it has repercussions for us on many fronts. It hurts us both professionally and personally. It hurts us in what we end up with during negotiations. It hurts us in how we are represented in management, executive and leadership ranks. So, if we want to change that, if we want to push that needle, how we’re represented, we have to be willing to take risks for ourselves and we have to be willing to support others in taking their own risks as well.”

Other voices are sending similar messages and some groups are initiating innovative programs to address the related obstacles that women need to overcome: feeling the need to be perfect or feeling like an imposter in a role they are completely capable of doing.

A recent article in the New York Times titled “On Campus, Failure Is on the Syllabus” highlights programs at some colleges designed to help high achieving students view setbacks differently. The program “Failing Well” at Smith College seeks to destigmatize failure with workshops on imposter syndrome, discussions on perfectionism, and a highly visible campaign to display the self-admitted failures of very successful people. Other schools, such as Cornell, Harvard, and Stanford, have also approached the issue.

Business School deans who participated in the AWESOME Symposium encouraged leaders to help their mentees and other young professionals accept that being a leader will sometimes “be hard,” especially during the “mid-Marathon” years when many women are balancing career and family.

Here are three more articles on the topics of resilience, learning from failure and imposter syndrome: