This article was produced for techSPARK’s Leadership Month, sponsored by The Conscious Leadership Co (TCLC). ‘Resilience’ is the second blog in the Five Pillars of Conscious Leadership series. Read on to learn about what resilience really means. Stay tuned for the next three pieces to come this month. 

By Rosie Wintour, Head of Content at TCLC.

Resilience is a commodity that is much in demand in the workplace. Resilience gives us the strength and perspective to better deal with the inevitabilities of life. 

Resilience is not an expectation that you’ll stay strong regardless of the pressures, the crises, the workload and the tragedies that you experience. It is also not stamina, the ability to keep on going in spite of the pressures and challenges you face. It does not mean staying switched on around the clock without burning out.

Resilience is about your ability to acknowledge the obstacles you are faced with and to find a way through them without becoming despondent.

It is about our capacity to bounce back, or more accurately to bounce forward after a setback. It is being able to learn from and recover more quickly, to stay or return to a steady state after periods of turbulence. It is the honed skill of knowing what you need to manage your energy levels and not allow a gradual or terminal depletion of your resources to an irrecoverable state.

It doesn’t mean you won’t suffer, hurt, or experience discomfort. It’s what you do in those moments that matter most.

Practising resilience

As founders, it can sometimes seem as if there’s more going wrong than there is going right.

So much of the process of growing a business involves handling new challenges and solving fresh problems. In established organisations, often the work involves repeatedly finessing familiar situations.

In the world of startups and scaleups, the endless need to create solutions to new problems can feel relentless and very demanding. The cumulative effect of this kind of work coupled with the anxiety that comes with ambiguous resources can lead to burnout.

The latest report released by Xero, the global small business platform, shows that small business owner wellbeing is currently below that of the general population; with the UK showing the lowest of the seven countries they surveyed. 

“Despite rising awareness of wellbeing in all facets of our lives, there has been little data about small business wellbeing beyond financial measures,” says Rachael Powell, Chief Customer Officer, Xero. “Our research highlights what we already suspected – that small business owners are experiencing many wellbeing challenges at the moment, coming at them from a variety of sources.”

Factors contributing to small business owner wellbeing include business-related stress spilling over into personal lives; the ability of a small business owner to take time to rest and recover; undertaking fulfilling work; and access to affordable counselling or peer support.

The key to preventing burnout is getting ahead of it, learning to spot the physical, mental and emotional warning signs that give you the chance to take action before it’s too late.  These can include:


  • Change in appetite or diet
  • Fatigue
  • Grinding your teeth at night
  • Headaches
  • Heart palpitations
  • High blood pressure
  • Unusual heart rhythms

Mental & Emotional

  • Avoidance of decision making
  • General neglect of personal needs
  • Irritability
  • Job dissatisfaction
  • Lack of social interaction
  • Anxiety
  • Forgetfulness
  • Inability to focus
  • Lack of sleep or reduced sleep quality
  • Lower productivity

As leaders, we set the tone for the organisational culture that we want to create. It’s important that if you want to cultivate an environment of high performance, that you also create a culture for necessary rest and restoration. 

This includes knowing what you need and giving yourself and those you work with permission to take time out to recover. As founders, we rarely work the typical 9-5, Monday-Friday pattern, and we don’t need to fit our work into this model to maintain high levels of wellbeing.

We do need to consciously identify what brings out our best, building in rest breaks and time for fun and we do need to find ways to manage the pressure and stress – and that’s often about working on our perception of things!