Same storm, different boats

Same storm, different boats
Published: 19 May 2020

Bill Lawry is CEO of Ascend, a leading talent strategy and leadership development consultancy and he was guest speaker at our latest online forum in our Emerging Leaders Programme.  The session focused on building resilience, both in self and team, as we navigate the choppy waters of the COVID-19 challenge.  As Bill outlined - we are all facing the same storm, but in different boats.

Bill opened by explaining why the challenge of COVID-19 has a profound chemical and psychological impact on our brains.  Resilience is a key defence tool for tackling the threat, but two months into the crisis many leaders are feeling weary.  In fact, a recent survey by a large investment bank showed Divisional Managing Directors were the group most struggling with the crisis.  Those who had been tasked with managing the emotional well-being of their teams but were getting no support for their own well fair – it was just assumed they were ok.

Thus, Bill discussed the importance of looking after oneself, using the adage of ‘putting your own oxygen mask on before assisting others’.  The group discussed the development of a leadership growth mindset, built on a foundation of sustainable, good habits.  We looked at the key areas of energy, emotions, meaning (purpose) and mindset. 

Giving oneself the time to renew was highlighted as essential to sustaining high levels of performance.  Bill emphasized the importance of mindfulness and ran a short exercise on basic techniques that the group could incorporate into their day. Many of the participants were already practicing mindfulness, yoga, pilates or meditation to aid physical and mental restoration.  The ‘Headspace’ app was also cited as a useful tool for even the most sceptical of individuals. 

The focus then switched to building resilience in teams. The leaders were questioned on their awareness of their teams living and working arrangements at present, specifically the hidden challenges that the leaders needed to account for.  Bill talked through the grief curve, and the relevance to the emotions people are experiencing today, and what strategies could be deployed to move people along the curve and to a more positive, growth mindset.  Bill rounded up by discussing techniques for developing social cohesion in a virtual world, creating a calm, psychological safe space for teams which fostered innovation. 

We would like to thank Bill for running such an engaging session, and the participants for their open and honest engagement. The importance of promoting well-being and supporting mental health in the workplace is a key issue facing leaders today.  If you would like to assess either your own personal resilience , or that of your team, you can sign up here for the Ascend resilience diagnostic or visit

The Berwick Partners Emerging Leaders Programme is an annual programme, focussed on developing future talent and giving high potential individuals an experienced sounding board and network to support them through the next stage of their career.  To find out more please go to Berwick Partners Emerging Leaders Programme.

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