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Building and Leading Resilient Teams

Stanford UP,

15 min read
10 take-aways
Audio & text

What's inside?

Resilient, unbreakable teams thrive in crisis.

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  • Comprehensive
  • Concrete Examples
  • Insider's Take


No matter what their product, service or industry, all companies share a common characteristic: their people work in teams. And if their teams aren’t resilient, trouble awaits. Bradley L. Kirkman and Adam C. Stoverink outline four pitfalls that challenge a team’s resiliency and four resources that assure its durability. They share their conviction that “unbreakable” teams produce superior performance, bigger profits, and more satisfied executives, employees, investors and customers. To that end, they explain how managers can build and lead energized teams that can handle adversity and bounce back.


Teams require resilience in case of business upheavals or other crises.

Despite team members’ best intentions, disruptions can happen and plans do not always unfold smoothly. Sometimes problems erupt and disaster ensues. This is true for in-house and remote teams, particularly given today’s “volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous” (VUCA) world.

This level of complexity places a demand on team leaders and members to embrace planned resilience as an essential part of their function. In the face of difficulties, resilience enables confident, collaborative team members to recover from adversity and find their way back to success.

A resilient team can continue to excel in the face of problems that disrupt its normal work. Effective teams rely on three kinds of processes to support their activities:

  1. “Coordination” – Teams must mesh the “sequencing and timing” of their activities. Members need to understand their own roles and each other’s roles to ensure smooth collaboration.
  2. “Monitoring” – Members of resilient teams use “tracking and communicating...

About the Authors

Bradley L. Kirkman is the (Ret.) H. Hugh Shelton Distinguished Professor of Leadership in the Department of Management, Innovation and Entrepreneurship at the Poole College of Management at North Carolina State University. Adam C. Stoverink is the Director of Walton MBA Programs and an associate professor of management in the Walton College of Business at the University of Arkansas.

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