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Resiliency in Leadership

There’s no denying that the global COVID-19 pandemic has led to a disruptive transformation in the way that we work and lead teams. Some of those changes have driven positive developments and yielded benefits in some aspects of our work lives and others have challenged us personally to grow and evolve our ways of working and leading.

This new reality of working challenges our resilience and resolve but we’re committed to making sure our people have the tools they need to thrive and to better support and cultivate our next generation leaders. This was the motivation behind a new training series focused on building resilience and adaptability in leadership.

Jake Breeden is the Head of Global Learning Solutions at Takeda and he offered unique insight into this new program and the benefits participants can gain from it.

We sat down with Jake and discussed his role at Takeda, as well as the impact of Takeda’s efforts to help build resilience is having on the organization and our colleagues.

What are some of the exceptional challenges that have been presented to leaders since the outset of the COVID-19 pandemic?

Two challenges come to mind.

First, the COVID-19 pandemic has raised the stakes in how we relate to our teams because those of us that worked in offices can no longer rely on informal chats and connecting at the office water cooler. This makes the importance of increasing that connectedness at the human level even more important.

But we also have to rethink our toolbox for how we connect and collaborate effectively with our teams in the digital world. We now have to rely on new creative solutions to maintain humanity in this digital world, and to ensure that it sticks.  

Why is resiliency so important?

It’s just pragmatic. It’s admitting to yourself that you need help, you need energy, you’re a human being and not an Outlook-driven robot.

We have to be flexible in how we work and live and it’s important to feed the need for emotional, intellectual and physical energy.

If we want our patients to be healthy, we need our colleagues at Takeda to be healthy. That’s why resiliency matters.

What could participants expect to learn in the new resilient leadership training series?

We brought in experts on topics like mindfulness, learning retention and psychological safety to help people apply ideas related to resiliency and psychological safety to their professional and personal lives.

We started with live virtual sessions with our senior leaders and then pivoted to sessions with more than 3,000 people managers from around the world. These manager sessions leaned on the latest digital learning approaches and technology where you can benefit from self-paced sessions while still having opportunities to connect and discuss with your peers.

We are really seeking to reach people at a more personal level and break down those walls. In one of our breakout sessions, we asked participants to bring something from home that represents “you.” It was an interesting exercise in helping people maintain the human perspective.

How can participants put these key insights into practice? 

Our goal is that each participant has an amazing experience during the training, for them to have learned something new and beneficial. Next, momentum needs to be created and maintained with resources long after the training has ended to ensure the behavior change sticks.

We encourage participants to share their experience with a colleague. That inspires social learning, which makes it much more likely that we will follow through.

What skills do you think adapting to life in a COVID-19 world has elevated in our personal lives that we can transfer to our professional lives? 

I’m going to draw inspiration from a patient who has short bowel syndrome (SBS) and has had 65 surgeries as a result. She was featured in our Rare Disease Day event and was also asked this same question. She said that as a patient who deals with chronic illness, she feels that, generally, the level of empathy from everyone who is going through this has increased because they got a little taste of what her experience has been as someone who lives with a chronic condition.

I found that really inspiring because obviously this made her life more complicated. Over the past year during the pandemic more people have had more experiences which can help harness empathy.

How can one continue to adapt and build greater resiliency in their personal and professional lives?

I think that by challenging ourselves to adapt by learning new life skills it can help us in both our professional and personal lives. We build resiliency by being willing to learn and trying new things in the face of adversity. For example, part of the training focuses on psychological safety where we make people feel safe and comfortable enough to speak up and talk about challenges and difficulties in their professional and personal lives with our colleagues.

I think the impact of this initiative goes well beyond our work. This has taught us how not only how to be a better employee, but also a better partner or parent, and that’s what happens when you adopt a human approach to learning. In the coming months, we’re taking our learnings from this initiative and expanding to the entire company in a new program called CARE (Creating Adaptability and Resiliency Experience).