The Leader’s Guide to Building Resilient Teams

Empower your people to navigate whatever comes their way.

Thrive Global

This guide was produced in partnership with Thrive Global as part of our Wellness Playbook. Learn to better manage your days (and nights) with the insights and actionable tips in this guide.


As a leader in uncertain times, you can model beliefs and behaviors that empower others to minimize stress, avoid burnout, and be their best selves personally and professionally. Resilience enables us to succeed in key ways, strengthening our ability to:

  • Manage stress
  • Navigate challenges
  • Prioritize resting and recharging
  • Cultivate purpose and perspective in challenging times
  • Know when to reach out for support

It starts with acknowledging the challenges people are facing right now. Many employees have been working from home for months. Many have experienced health problems, financial difficulties, isolation, and an unrelenting sense of burnout. Working parents now have the added uncertainty of a new school year. However we have adjusted and adapted, no one is sure what the next few weeks and months will look like.

All this has taken a toll on our mental health. More than 40% of adults experienced anxiety, depression, and other mental health challenges during the pandemic. In addition to the toll on individuals, these challenges also diminish organizational resilience: For example, Stanford economist Nicholas Bloom predicts productivity drops within companies by 5–10%.

Resilience is the ability to adjust and recover in times of crisis and uncertainty, like the ones we’re going through now. Science tells us resilience is a muscle we can build — and when we do, we can not only bounce back, but emerge stronger.

This guide includes resilience-building Microsteps for you and your team from Thrive Global, the behavior-change technology company founded by Arianna Huffington. Microsteps are small, science-backed actions we can start taking immediately to build habits that can be transformative.

Empower your team to strengthen their resilience by taking a quick wellbeing assessment and using these Microsteps.


Take This Quick Quiz to Assess Your Wellbeing and Resilience:

Answer 12 simple questions to get insights about where you’re thriving and where you're not.

Tip #1: Reset your relationship with your team.

If ever there was a moment demanding a new leadership playbook, this is it.

People are craving strong leadership and clear communication. Many are struggling with loneliness and isolation, and according to Salesforce research over one third of employees say they feel less connected to their colleagues while working remotely. Employees overwhelmingly feel that employers need to be doing more to support them in the ways that matter most.

So much of the larger conversation around returning to work is focused on physical safety and how technology can enable us to be productive in the new normal. These are important, but what’s often lost is a discussion of people’s mental and emotional state. Productivity is not just about technology. It’s also about people. And right now, many people are feeling stressed more than ever.

For managers, this presents an opportunity. Now more than ever, we need to connect with people in a personal way. Practice these Microsteps to reset your relationship with members of your team and, in turn, create a culture where people feel valued for who they are — not just what they do.


Tip #2: Spotlight mental resilience for your team.

So much of the conversation about the return to work focuses on the physical. And what’s often left out is a discussion of our mental and emotional state.

As a leader, you can shift the conversation to focus on the challenges and anxieties people are really struggling with — and give them tools to build resilience.

Science tells us resilience is a muscle we can build. Dr. Tara Swart, a neuroscientist at M.I.T. Sloan, explains that “Our ability to endure and bounce back from adversity is a capability that can be built into our brain.” And according to a study in the medical journal BMJ Open, “There is growing consensus that resilience is a malleable characteristic, wherein an individual’s ability to adapt and ‘bounce back’ effectively from adversity can be developed and enhanced.”

It all begins with leaving behind a cultural norm that has been at the root of the mental health crisis: the belief that we have to be always on, and that recharging activities that build resilience are self-indulgent, instead of what they really are — investments in our own health and productivity, and the performance and success of our company.

But the key to resilience is recharging. And not just physical recharging — our brains need a rest as much as our bodies do. Start by strategically stopping. Give yourself and your team the resources to be tough by creating mental and physical recovery periods.

The following Microsteps are actions you can take to role model resilience for your team.


Tip #3: Cultivate a growth mindset to build resilience.

Many of us feel stuck right now. But we can shift our mindset from focusing on the negative to focusing on our own ability to change, improve, and persevere. This is known as a growth mindset — and it’s especially important when it comes to building resilience.

Thriving — both professionally and personally — isn’t about requiring the external world around us to be exactly as we want it to be. It’s about being able to connect with our inner resources — such as our creativity, empathy, and sense of larger purpose — that enable us to handle whatever the external world throws our way.

These inner resources are the building blocks of productivity. But we can’t tap into them when we are as anxious and stressed as most people are right now.

In times of crisis, uncertainty, and turmoil, like the ones we may be going through right now, our inner resilience is our most important resource. That has to be the bedrock on which we build our new normal. Companies realize that qualities like focus, empathy, collaboration, and inclusion are essential to win the future. But we can’t simply flip a switch and turn those qualities on. To access our creativity and ability to innovate in the middle of uncertainty and chaos, our immediate emotional needs must be met first. We can’t create and implement new solutions for the future if we are struggling to simply get through the day.

Encourage your team to use these Microsteps to support and nurture their mental resilience so they can operate from a place of strength and navigate change in their daily lives.




While experiencing stress and anxiety is inevitable, how we respond to stressors and manage our patterns of thought and behavior is both within our control and critical to unlocking better mental health. With this information in hand, you have a clear vision of where you’re currently thriving and where you could use a little boost. Now you can make an informed choice when selecting an area of resilience to focus on.

Investing in your health and wellbeing starts with micro-moments. Encourage your teams to take the assessment above and find a Microstep that helps you thrive.

Continue your journey and help your teams take the next step in their health and wellbeing journeys with The Leader's Guide to Work-Life Integration and The Leader's Guide to Employee Wellbeing.

Wellness Playbook Guides

Guide #2

The Leader’s Guide to Building Resilient Teams

Future of Work

Employee Health and Wellbeing


About Thrive Global

Thrive Global is an American company that provides behavior change technology and media to support individuals struggling with stress and burnout. It was founded by Arianna Huffington in August 2016. The company is headquartered in New York City and has offices in San Francisco, Athens, Mumbai, and Melbourne.

More Resources

Employee Health and Wellbeing
Help your teams take the next step in their health and wellbeing journeys with videos, meditations, and digital resources.
Workplace Command Center
Manage employee wellness, safety, and workplace preparedness data to return to work safely.
COVID-19 Response Playbook
Use this versatile framework to stabilize your business, reopen your workplace, and accelerate change to grow in the next normal.

Get timely updates and fresh ideas delivered to your inbox.