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resilient teams

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Resilient Teams

Resilient teams are the ones that are able to adapt and even thrive in during tough times, such as the Covid pandemic.

But just as everyone likes to think they are the best drivers on the road, the best parents, or the best business leaders, you never really know until you’re put to the test and a business crisis is a heck of a time to find our your business team is really not as resilient as you thought they were.

My next guest, Lisa Koss is a developmental coach and author of Leading for Learning: How Managers Can Get Business Results Through Developmental Coaching and Inspire Deep Employee Commitment who can help you turn that wishful thinking into reality with time tested tips on how to create remarkably resilient teams.

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What You’ll Discover About Resilient Teams (highlights & transcript):

Leading for Learning* What does it mean to have resilient teams [01:26]

* What the most successful business leaders do to build resilient teams [03:36]

* Where to start developing more resilient teams [06:06]

* How recognizing changing group dynamics and managing expectations aids resilient teams [07:33]

* How safe spaces create new team dynamics and more cohesion [10:11]

* The role of developmental coaching in creating more resilient teams [12:04]

* Key characteristics of resilient teams [20:45]

* And MUCH more.

Hanna Hasl-Kelchner:    [00:00:00.72] Resilient teams are the ones that are able to adapt and even thrive during tough times, such as the COVID pandemic, but just as everyone likes to think they’re the best drivers on the road, the best parent, the best business leader. You never really know until you’re put to the test and a business crisis is a heck of a time to find out your business team is really not as resilient as you thought they were.


Hanna: [00:00:24.51] My next guest, however, is a developmental coach who can help you turn that wishful thinking into reality with some time-tested tips on how to create remarkably resilient teams, so stay tuned.


Announcer:       [00:00:37.53] This is Business Confidential Now with Hanna Hasl-Kelchner, helping you see business issues hiding in plain view that matter to your bottom line.


Hanna: [00:00:48.80] Welcome to Business Confidential Now. I’m your host, Hanna Hasl-Kelchner, and today’s guest is Lisa Koss, the co-founder and partner of Ontos Global. She has 25 years’ experience in team development and her proprietary coaching model has been taught in nine different languages across the globe. She’s the author of Leading for Learning:            How Managers Can Get Business Results Through Developmental Coaching and Inspire Deep Employee Commitment.


Hanna: [00:01:18.32] And it’s a privilege to have her join us today. So welcome to Business Confidential Now, Lisa.


Lisa Koss:         [00:01:23.54] Thank you very much. It’s a pleasure to be here, Hanna.




Hanna: [00:01:26.84] It’s good to have you because resilience is one of those things that we probably think we have until we’re pushed to the wall. And then we have to go deep and figure out, Well, you know, how do we come back from this and how do we get through it because there’s no going around it? So, just to be clear, help me understand what resilience means to you and especially resilience as you’re coaching your clients.


Lisa:     [00:01:52.70] Yeah. Well, resilience is an interesting topic. It’s a great topic. I think that many people don’t have any idea how resilient they are. What we do know about resilience is that the large number of those who go through something difficult do rebound. Some people believe that, you know, half people make it or what is it? What is it that we can do as humans as it relates to resiliency?


Lisa:     [00:02:18.86] Well, it turns out that research from the ’60s showed that people are – tend to be fairly resilient. Most people are resilient when they have gone through something difficult, and what it basically means is that you can come away from something traumatic, and that’s a subjective sense of what trauma is made of is person by person. But, moving into a stronger psychological or physical or emotional space is really what we’re looking for as it relates to post-traumatic growth.


Lisa:     [00:02:52.04] So that’s the piece of the research that’s so interesting, I think, for business leaders, people who are working all the time to hang in there, to overcome obstacles, and adverse – for adverse situations in order to keep growing and learning is that, first of all, number one, it does happen. Most people are resilient and, if we’re lucky, we can do a lot to encourage post traumatic or post trauma growth. And I think that’s where leadership comes in, is how well does a leader enable growth?


Lisa:     [00:03:27.02] So actually not just maintaining where you are or who you are or the state of the business, but actually learning from it and making yourself in your business even stronger.




Hanna: [00:03:36.11] Well, I think everybody wants to have a stronger business and resilient teams are so important for business owners or leaders that are looking to thrive in today’s economy. In your experience, what is it that the most successful business leaders do to truly build resilient teams?


Lisa:     [00:03:54.68] Well, first of all, I think all these questions are quite complicated. There’s nothing more complex than human beings. And so to give a tip two or three or four, it really is just that. It’s a tip, and it goes with something much broader in terms of who we are as people, our authenticity, how we lead.


Lisa:     [00:04:11.60] Do we really care about people anyway? Do we show – are we able to show that we care about people? Are we able to focus on their development and their best interests? Can we understand that we’re doing two things at once? We’re building a business and we’re also growing people.


Lisa:     [00:04:24.68] And I think that if leaders can keep in mind that they are there to support people becoming the best versions of themselves, which is easy for some and not so easy for others, then I think that you’ve got a chance to actually translate difficult times with growth. And I think leaders can do so much about that.


Lisa:     [00:04:44.60] When there is a difficult situation and somebody goes through something individually or collectively, your team organization or the whole society goes through something big and important that is difficult, when people have trouble with whatever that is, and have get stuck in whatever that is.


Lisa:     [00:05:02.84] They often detach from their own goals; they detach from their goals and they are faced with forks in the road and they just don’t take them. And so leaders can do, as opposed to just letting that go, leaders can actually engage in that conversation. So leaders will say, “Well, who has time to engage in all of those conversations with people?”


Lisa:     [00:05:22.94] And I’ll say what you’re expecting me to say, which is, “If you don’t, you’re going to lose money and you’re going to lose your employee – some of your employees that you don’t want to lose.”


Lisa:     [00:05:34.01] And so for me, I think what leaders can do is to pay attention to those kind of individuals and what they’re going through or your team or your organization or society. And so resilience really is about many things as a leader, but it includes paying attention to creating an environment where people actually, first of all, feel safe enough to talk about who they are, what they want and how they’re going to get there, and then also doing that from a team perspective. And so that’s another topic, but I’ll just pause there and see what reaction you have thus far.




Hanna: [00:06:06.84] Well, I understand what you’re saying about the role of a leader and helping them, or I should say that part of their role, a big part of their role is helping their employees become the best version of themselves. And that’s easier for some people to do than others. And for those that might be a little hesitant or not quite sure what to do because they’re not as versed in the social skills. Where do you think they should start?


Lisa:     [00:06:37.22] If we’re talking about teams or groups, teams and groups have a life cycle of their own, and so many times leaders just think about their leadership as kind of a – maybe there’s like there’s one way to do it and they’re not there a particular way. They think about leadership in a particular way, and they just always they try to show up consistently in that way.


Lisa:     [00:06:59.28] I think that’s one of the biggest mistakes is there’s all this research done on groups and it doesn’t seem to translate into the business world. That’s just fascinating because so much is done in the social sciences that never gets translated into the business environment, and so, so much value is left on the table about teaching leaders.


Lisa:     [00:07:16.62] What does it mean to shift and grow with the team and let it become a high performing team? So if a team is feeling vulnerable, if a team is feeling helpless, if there’s something going on in the environment that you know, that requires special attention and special focus.




Lisa:     [00:07:33.18] But in general, what leaders can be aware of is the fact that groups themselves go through stages and your leadership needs to shift and change as it relates to what stage that group is in. So, for example, at the beginning of the life of a group, and that can be just when somebody like the leader or could be when a member of a new member of the team comes in, which, you know, happens a lot these days, a lot of people coming and going.


Lisa:     [00:08:00.42] And so this can get a little more complicated than I’m going to make it sound. But, the first rule is to really make sure it feels safe. So what does that mean that a group feels safe? It means that first of all, the group – the leader is going to encourage contact between people, whether it’s something just allowing people to get to know one another.


Lisa:     [00:08:22.59] There’s all kinds of interesting, kind of interesting research regarding how you do that in a remote environment versus a non-remote environment. There is – so, it’s helping them get to know one another. It’s also being very clear about what’s expected, what’s not expected. It is supporting the person in the group who had a different point of view, and so that that person doesn’t feel somehow ostracized because their point of view is different.


Lisa:     [00:08:45.66] Anything that a leader can do to create a sense of safety, it’s okay. You’re okay, here’s your role. Here’s the expectations. Here’s what’s okay. Here’s what’s not okay, here’s what’s involved with that. They’re constantly paying attention to what is the culture, what is the climate they’re trying to achieve, et cetera. Over time, and this is intuitive when you think about it, over time, when you feel safe, something starts to happen just like a parent and their child. What starts to happen is that the person starts kind of stretching their wings.


Lisa:     [00:09:22.23] They feel like, “Oh, it’s safe here, so I can do something. I can – how I can object. I can disagree. I can suggest some crazy ideas.” And basically people start stretching and they start doing something like – that feels, oftentimes, like resisting and rebelling sometimes and acting out, or however we might describe it.


Lisa:     [00:09:46.35] And this is where leaders often go wrong because they decide that they need to keep people close and they need to bring that person back when in fact they need to expand the possibilities within the team and make it okay. We actually want people to start doing that. We want people to start bringing their creativity, their ideas being more full versions of who they are. And so therefore, the leaders role also needs to change to make that larger container.




Lisa:     [00:10:11.52] That larger group also a safe space with a new set of dynamics. And then finally, you get to kind of this third stage of groups, which is more about the cohesion, the fact that this group no longer needs the leader to be setting all of these norms and they are more autonomous. They are effective. They work together because they’ve been through something conflictual now, and the leader has helped them work that through, and now they’re more autonomous as a group. So the leader needs to be aware of these stages that groups go through so that they can actually lead in the way that makes sense for the moment.


Hanna: [00:10:46.80] At what stage does resilience get built into the team?


Lisa:     [00:10:51.00] All the way. Because if I am not giving my team what it needs, it’s going to be wondering what is going to happen next? So, for example, imagine you have a team of people and somebody comes into the team right away and this person is really kind of a somehow for the rest of the group is really outside the box. If the leader doesn’t sort of bring that person at the initial stages, bring that person back into a place where everybody feels okay and safe first, there’s not – the group is not going to feel settled.


Lisa:     [00:11:27.98] We were actually – they’re skipping step one of this sense of safety and having this sort of psychological contract with the group about what’s okay and what’s not okay. So resilience is an experience. Resilience is a sense that I have the support I need just as much as I need and not one bit more, actually. There’s no need to over support, but they need to support enough. And so all – this whole experience of working with a team or group can help a group cohere, and the sense of resiliency is an experience over time. So, I would say that resilience spans across all the stages of a group and how it develops.




Hanna: [00:12:04.71] So Lisa, how does developmental coaching fit into all of this?


Lisa:     [00:12:09.81] Developmental coaching is a – it is for individuals. It can also be for teams. We’ve just been talking about teams. First, if we take it from the individual perspective, a developmental coach is somebody who, first of all, builds trust by putting the best interest of employees first. That is something that creates safety and speaks to the group – the stages of the group development, as I was just talking about. It allows people to understand that they’re there not just for the benefit of the organization, but the organization is there to help them develop and grow as well.


Lisa:     [00:12:49.3] And that’s what helps people stay in organizations that makes them want to stay. And so you’re actually ensuring that you don’t have people just feeling unattended to and just looking for other opportunities. And so developmental coaching is a very powerful communication, that leaders can learn how to do, that allows employees to experience that their best interests are taken to heart, that we are solving business problems, but in the context of their learning.


Lisa:     [00:13:25.56] And if you can learn how to tie together the business issue with the development of the person in a way that is motivational for the employee and they can make the link explicitly, they can absolutely revolutionize the kinds of relationships you have with people and the progress people make in terms of their own development at work.


Lisa:     [00:13:48.66] It is not problem solving and this is what we think. You know, businesses are nothing, if not pragmatic, they want to solve business problems, and that seems like the shortest way to get things done. You have a problem, let’s figure out how to solve it, and hey, I may have some ideas to help you out, and now we’re calling that coaching. That’s not coaching. That’s problem solving.


Lisa:     [00:14:11.55] And while there is a place for that and there’s a time for that, leaders leave so much on the table when they don’t think about what more they could be achieving if they let people solve their own problems, figure it out, focus on what they are trying to develop as professionals, and make that the centerpiece of their conversations when they coach.


Lisa:     [00:14:32.34] It’s a unique kind of communication vehicle that leaders have at their disposition. If they learn it and they can do it, they actually transform not only the individual’s experience of the organization, but they also transform their teams because those same skill sets can be used in the team environment.




Hanna: [00:14:49.71] I hear what you’re saying about developmental coaching, it makes a lot of sense. But I also can imagine some of my listeners are saying, “Wait a minute. Fine, that sounds good. I develop them and then either: A, they leave; or B, they want more money; or both.”


Lisa:     [00:15:12.63] Well, anything can happen when you develop somebody. Anything can happen, you empower them, you help them to see their value, and their potential, but here’s the thing people tend to leave people. They don’t tend to leave organizations. So, being in the business for 25 years, I can tell you that people are almost never leaving the business just because. They’re leaving, because they’re not getting developed, they’re not getting seen, they’re not getting really the attention that they want. They’re not feeling as – that they’re in a position where they’re growing and learning.


Lisa:     [00:15:46.95] And so, it’s really connecting what is the motivation that the person has, which is can be in the book? I give all kinds of ways of how do you figure out what motivates? I mean, certainly you can ask and sometimes people can tell you, and sometimes they can’t. But, there are ways to understand how to connect what the business needs with what motivates the person and what is the development – what is it about that development that motivates them? How do you connect those?




Lisa:     [00:16:16.20] There’s kind of a formula that I feel like I have discovered and uncovered as it relates to having a conversation with people that can be expedient and effective because it is an investment in that person and they are solving the business problem at the same time. So for me, if people leave because of that, first of all, I’d be surprised that there would be some sort of higher rate that people leaving, because that’s not what the research shows regarding development.


Lisa:     [00:16:45.39] I would say that you’ve got nothing to lose by developing people. You only have something to gain, most likely, because people are actually craving that kind of support.


Hanna: [00:16:56.04] Makes sense. I’ve seen some of that research, too. I was just curious what your personal experience was, and it just confirms more of what the research has to say. So, when it comes to building more resilient teams, if I understand you correctly, just sort of as to summarize, it’s really a matter of starting with that safe space to be able to build the trust and to grow it from there. And then the developmental coaching seems to be the frosting on the cake.


Lisa:     [00:17:28.23] The piece that people don’t get and I’ll and I – and what I would just say, again, to leave your listeners with, is that when people feel safe, they will naturally start to act out, and that’s good, because what you’re doing is you’re expanding the bowl as it were. Let’s say it’s a small bowl and you want to contain the experience so that people feel like they know what’s what they are. They know each other. They have clarity on what they’re trying to do.


Lisa:     [00:17:56.89] You contract as a leader with them in terms of, you know, what’s expected, what’s necessary, what’s a must, and really supporting people to feel safe in that space, and then eventually – and it happens all by itself, there’s nothing you need to do, but as soon as people start – we might call it, again, acting out or taking risks. It needs to be okay.


Lisa:     [00:18:19.26] They say, Well, that’s very interesting. You’re taking – I see that you’re suggesting something completely different than what we’ve done in the past, that’s very interesting, and that one statement of allowing for that risk that has just been taken and then supporting it in a way allows for the team to understand it’s their turn. It’s their turn to grow and, in that, there’s a lot of development and you might be able to do different kinds of coaching with different members of your team, depending on what you’re noticing about them to help accelerate that group development, and therefore become a high performing team collectively.


Lisa:     [00:18:55.95] And so that’s a process that leaders can manage. They can actually pay attention to the team dynamic, what’s going on, what it needs and do what they can to start to accelerate it because that’s actually what you want at the end. You want a –


Lisa:     [00:19:11.01] You want a group of people who worked at who know each other, who can work together, who can trust each other for higher results and better effectiveness. And that’s what leaders have that opportunity to do. It’s not just to allow people to kind of individually grow, but also to grow as a cohesive team.


Lisa:     [00:19:31.65] So, yeah, developmental coaching is one of the primary tools that leaders can use to ensure that everybody’s staying on the same page to check in with how people are doing. What are they trying to learn as a as a professional and how you can, as a leader, help them in this seven-step model that I provide, I think is really groundbreaking because people don’t know how to have that conversation and this is what makes it out. And it’s been, as you said in the intro, it’s been pressure tested all around the world in nine different languages. It’s been delivered for 10 years.


Lisa:     [00:20:07.23] We have a lot of data that people find it really useful and helpful to know what do you say when you sit down? How do you make this thing happen? Because it’s more complex than just doing one thing or two things, but it’s a sense of both a general sense of leadership and giving people what they need in terms of stability, but it’s also about taking people on a journey.


Hanna: [00:20:27.27] Very good, and it sounds like the connections and the strength of the connections that are made through this process is really where the resilience lies, that people know the leader has their back, the rest of the team has their back. It’s a safe place to do things and they’re going to make it work and figure things out together.




Lisa:     [00:20:45.51] Yep, that’s right. It’s the support that people have. I think about resilience as a set of resources you might have around you. Do you have emotional support? Do you have developmental support? Do you have people who care about you? Do you have – what does your social network look like? There are all kinds of things that contribute to a resilient person. It’s about having lots of interest. It’s about living a full life. I mean, it’s about experiencing things. It’s about taking risks and showing yourself that you can do things and that improve self-esteem.


Lisa:     [00:21:15.66] When you realize – when you do something difficult and then people acknowledge it, that, for me, is the definition of self-esteem. All of these things are resources at our disposal that help us be resilient. And it turns out that people who are resilient, you know, is really what is needed these days.


Lisa:     [00:21:31.77] Why? Because there is so much change. There is so much turmoil in our business environment, in our environments in general, that if we can get good at understanding how to take care of ourselves and how to take care of our people in a way that is supportive, doesn’t have to mean that you’re spending all your time taking care of people, but it’s just sort of knowing how to have those high contractual moments where that make all the difference in terms of how well supported you feel and, therefore, how resilient you are in a context where there’s so much change and chaos all the time because of the changing variables in our working environment.


Hanna: [00:22:11.52] Definitely. We can definitely always use more resilience. So, thank you, Lisa. We’ve definitely given us a bird’s eye view of how to develop those foundations. And, if you’re listening, and like to contact Lisa to learn more about her amazing developmental coaching practice and the steps that she has in her program, how she can help you build more resilience in your organization, you can find that information in the show notes, along with links to her book, Leading for Learning: How Managers Can Get Business Results Through Developmental Coaching, and inspire deep employee commitment. And that will be at


Hanna: [00:22:51.42] And if you know someone who could benefit from Lisa’s advice from her methodology, tell them about today’s episode. Share the link to the show. Leave a positive review on your podcast, app or at, so others can learn more about this episode, too.


Hanna: [00:23:10.77] You’ve been listening to Business Confidential Now with Hanna Hasl-Kelchner. Have a great day and an even better tomorrow.

Best Moments

Why Resilience is Really More Than What You Think it Means

Why Employees’ Sense of Safety is Essential for High Performance Teams

Why Leaders Need to Use Developmental Coaching to Improve Team Performance

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Guest: Lisa Koss

Lisa KossLisa J. Koss is the co-founder and a partner at Ontos Global.

She has 25 years’ experience in global leadership, team development, talent management, executive coaching and design, and organizational change initiatives.

Her proprietary coaching model has been taught in 9 different languages across the globe. Her clients include Kaiser Permanente, ITT, Xylem, British Petroleum, Honeywell, Hewlett Packard, General Electric, Ernst & Young, and many more. She lives in the San Francisco Bay Area in California.

Her new book is Leading for Learning: How Managers Can Get Business Results through Developmental Coaching and Inspire Deep Employee Commitment.

Learn more at

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