Resilience As A Business Strategy: The 4 R’s To Get You Back On Track

Written by Dr. Kelly Whelan

Dr. Whelan is the Founder and CEO of Belem LLC. She specializes in partnering, empowering, and positioning executive leaders and teams for success by helping them design strategies that create stakeholder impact.

August 15, 2020


Are You Thriving or Just Surviving?

The Coronavirus pandemic has seen its share of causalities as loss of life and loss of livelihood mount daily. Sadly, we’ve witnessed the hearts and spirit of even the most confident leader left challenged.

Let’s face it. Covid-19 came in like a lion. This external-force-invisible-enemy has impacted leaders everywhere. Some of you were prepared, but unfortunately, most of you were not. Whether prepared or not, as leader, you must show up for your people.

How’s that going?

Have you lead yourself and the people you serve with grace and understanding or, have you checked out and decided to give up the fight?

Leaders exhibiting resilience are reframing their personal and business challenges and positioning those challenges toward opportunity. If you’re thinking it’s too late to begin to turn the ship, the good news is, it’s not! And, there is no better time than now to build your business resilience.

By leveraging lessons learned from the 2020 crisis and creating a plan of action, you increase the likelihood of building for strength and thrive, not just survive.


Resilience is the ability to bounce back. To face a challenge and make a way forward regardless of how impossible that may seem.


When I think about resilience, September 2017 comes to mind…Hurricane Irma came violently knocking at my front door. I watched with an unsettling uncertainty as before my eyes my property became littered with downed pine and oak trees. I stood in fear as I faced the truth of the day. My home and my life could be in jeopardy.

During the clean-up days that followed, my mind began questioning what had transpired. How is it that the deep-rooted, mature trees, those that I thought would be spared fell to the ground while hundreds of palm trees with shallow root systems stood tall and strong?

This thinking quickly evolved into the topic of leaders and resilience. When you assess your resilience or your colleagues, which tree comes to mind? Are you like the palm tree weathering the storm, or are you like those mature, deep-rooted trees that were negatively impacted and no longer had the strength to hold on?


Resilient leaders are rising to the challenges, pivoting as necessary, and casting a message of optimism and hope.



If you are like most leaders, you want to be and feel successful. You want your organization to withstand the barrage of uncertainty Covid-19 has created.

Maybe what you’ve been doing isn’t working or, maybe you don’t know where to begin. Regardless of your circumstance, you can be and do better, but your circumstance won’t change unless you make the decision to change. It’s time to get your team, organization [and family] back in the game.


As leader, you have the opportunity to demonstrate l-e-a-d-e-r-s-h-i-p!


Give yourself permission to come alongside your people and change what might seem a lost cause and find a new way to operate.


The 4-R’s to Building Business Resilience


How can you build business resilience?

GALLUP names four key areas to consider when building for resilience. When positioned right, each of these areas will bring new life and a road-map to move forward. As you look at these four areas, consider, what can you begin doing today? What area will allow for quick wins so that you and your team can feel a sense of accomplishment?


Reimagine the customer experience.

Now more than ever, it’s essential to know the pulse of the people you serve. Perhaps your customer/client/patient/family needs have shifted with the changing landscape of Covid-19. What and how do you measure what matters?

Building a strong customer experience takes reducing barriers, which include your customer perception of your business.

  • How are you communicating with your stakeholders?
  • Are you establishing innovations to reach new and existing customers?
  • What are your stakeholders witnessing through your efforts? Do they see a strong, competent organization or one that exhibits a lack of leadership and engagement?
  • To gain a wider view of our system and processes, are you allowing voices at the table other than your own?
  • What message do you as leader need to focus on to generate a collaborative effort across channels?

Diversifying your efforts may be what is necessary. Be willing to make adjustments, even if you need to fail fast to get to what’s right.


Reshape your culture to ensure it is an ally to disruption.

When leaders fail to promote a healthy work culture, they run the risk of losing their talent. Your culture must be aligned with the organization’s mission, vision, and values. When misalignment occurs, your organization will suffer.

It’s up to leaders to help their people walk in their purpose and in their strengths. Bridging strengths to business objectives is a way to create a continuous cycle of creating impact. The outcome will increase confidence within the work culture.

Your company culture needs a strong set of signposts. Leaning in and assessing your company mission, value, values and give a gut check will help know if your on target or missing the mark. Questions to reflect on when thinking about your company culture:

  • How is our branding aligning with our organizational culture?
  • How can we strengthen our mission, vision, and values?
  • How does my leadership walk out the values of the organization?
  • What parts of the organization need to be agile so we can move quicker?


Refresh your leadership development and rededicate to core leadership values.

If there was ever a time to give your leaders a boost, it’s now.

In a recent Gallup poll, only 38% of US employees note confidence in their organization’s leadership “to successfully manage emerging challenges.” This number must rise. Your people need to have confidence that you, as leader, can build the plane while flying. How are you demonstrating confidence to your stakeholders? What needs to be developed?

You and your people showed up to Covid as your authentic self. One thing this crisis will clearly demonstrate is whose authenticity demonstrated leadership and further, who is sinking or swimming in your leader pool. It may be surprising for some to recognize that who you thought would rise to the Covid occasion lacked luster and in many cases will find a new bright shining star to develop.

  • Who is swimming with the current, and who isn’t?
  • Who needs to be recognized for their efforts?
  • Who needs someone to come alongside to help assess and develop new or existing leaders?
  • Who is leaning into their strengths and who needs the reminder?
  • Are our core values and talent acquisitions aligning?

Continuously reignite your workforce.

I get it. This pandemic is tiring. If you’re not experiencing some pushback, it may mean you are offering your people inspiration and encouragement. You’re showing optimism. You’re letting your people see and hear you. You are present. Unfortunately, most leaders are forgetting this important leadership requirement. Your people need you to re-charge and re-ignite passion within the organization.

How well you are doing can be measured by reflecting on the following:

  • What’s our organization’s current level of performance towards creating impact?
  • What are we doing well and how can we do more of that?
  • What strategy has benefitted our organization and people most/best?
  • What roles might need to be assessed or added due to our current business strategy?


This is your time to shine!

Leaders. You can do this! It’s time to rise and create a way forward for you and your people. By using the R4 model for business resilience, your organization can still have its best year ever. When you reframe your current reality into a future-focused, opportunity-driven organization, the outcomes will demonstrate increased resilience both personally and professionally.

What are your best practices for strengthening resilience?

To read Gallup’s article, click here.

Interested in assessing the resilience of your organization, team, or yourself? BelemLeaders can help!

Be sure to tune in to our podcast CONVERSATIONS For Leaders & Teams on Apple Podcast, Spotify, or your favorite listening platform!

Click here to purchase Dr. Whelan’s book, Leadership Excellence By Design: Strategies For Sustainability & Strength on Amazon!  

Leadership By Design. Book by Dr. Kelly Whelan.

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  1. Diane

    Clear insight. Practical advice. Thank you.

    • Dr. Kelly Whelan

      Thank you Diane! Resilience can be strengthened once leaders make the conscious decision to lead with strength, optimism, and a strategy that will move them beyond their current state. There are numerous opportunities that are waiting to be realized!


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