Research shows that resilience improves more effectively by enhancing protective factors than reducing risk factors.

Researchers with the Department of Education at Korea University and the Department of Psychology at Kyungnam University examined 33 previously conducted empirical studies of resilience. Their meta-analysis showed that resilience variables are comprised of both protective factors and risk factors.

Protective factors increase the likelihood of being resilient. The protective factors identified in the studies included life satisfaction, optimism, positive affect*, self-efficacy**, self-esteem, and social support. In contrast, risk factors decrease the likelihood of being resilient. The risk factors identified in the studies included anxiety, depression, negative affect, perceived stress, and post-traumatic stress disorder.

*Positive affect refers to the extent to which an individual subjectively experiences positive moods such as joy, interest, and alertness. **Self-efficacy is the belief in one’s ability to accomplish a task or to succeed in a specific situation.

Their meta-analysis of previous studies showed that protective factors showed the largest correlation with resilience. Risk factors provided only a medium effect. Self-efficacy was the most robust protective factor. These results indicate that resilience improves more effectively by enhancing protective factors than reducing risk factors.

Resilience-Building Leadership is about enhancing the protective factors identified in these studies. For example:

Developing cohesion and building relationships can improve social support for team members.

Creating a positive climate and demonstrating character can improve positive affect for team members.

Instilling a sense of purpose and focusing on the mission can improve life satisfaction for team members.

Providing realistic training and sharing in the risks can improve self-efficacy for team members.

Keeping people informed and empowering leaders can improve optimism for team members.

Managing expectations and talking about setbacks can improve self-esteem for team members.

Lee, J. H., Nam, S. K., Kim, A.-R., Kim, B., Lee, M. Y., & Lee, S. M. (2013). Resilience: A Meta-Analytic Approach. Journal of Counseling & Development, 91(3), 269–279.

Researchers with the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Duke University Medical Center developed a self-rated measure of resilience. “The CD-RISC [Connor-Davidson Resilience Scale] contains 25 items, all of which carry a 5-point range of responses, as follows: not true at all (0), rarely true (1), sometimes true (2), often true (3), and true nearly all of the time (4). The scale is rated based on how the subject has felt over the past month. The total score ranges from 0–100, with higher scores reflecting greater resilience”.

The individual items comprising the scale are:

  1. Able to adapt to change
  2. Close and secure relationships
  3. Sometimes fate or God can help
  4. Can deal with whatever comes
  5. Past success gives confidence for new challenge
  6. See the humorous side of things
  7. Coping with stress strengthens
  8. Tend to bounce back after illness or hardship
  9. Things happen for a reason
  10. Best effort no matter what
  11. You can achieve your goals
  12. When things look hopeless, I don’t give up
  13. Know where to turn for help
  14. Under pressure, focus and think clearly
  15. Prefer to take the lead in problem solving
  16. Not easily discouraged by failure
  17. Think of self as strong person
  18. Make unpopular or difficult decisions
  19. Can handle unpleasant feelings
  20. Have to act on a hunch
  21. Strong sense of purpose
  22. In control of your life
  23. I like challenges
  24. You work to attain your goals
  25. Pride in your achievements

Leaders that practice Resilience-Building Leadership

Reference: Connor, K. M., & Davidson, J. R. T. (2003). Development of a new resilience scale: The Connor-Davidson Resilience Scale (CD-RISC). Depression and Anxiety, 18(2), 76–82.