By Claire West

Leading business psychologist firm, Robertson Cooper, today releases research into the personal resilience levels of a sample of the British public and who is rated as the most resilient person in the public eye. A survey sample of 3,000 people (respondents to Robertson Cooper’s i-resilience report)* found the following:

•80% believe they can cope well when the going gets tough

•69% believed they generally coped well with setbacks

With the core concept of resilience involving coping with adversity, rebounding and adapting successfully to change or uncertainty, these findings suggest that the UK is better equipped to cope with the years of ‘austerity’ than pundits are making out.

Given this finding, related research was commissioned with YouGov** to find out which public figures the British population is using as their resilient role models. Nelson Mandela was selected from a list as far and away the most resilient person in the public eye (scoring 47% amongst those who identified a resilient person) with Lance Armstrong in second place with 12%. Lord Alan Sugar and Margaret Thatcher scored 8%, Ellen MacArthur 6%, Hilary Clinton 5%, Barack Obama and Katie Price 4%, David Cameron 3% and Madonna 1%.

68% of respondents believed that their most resilient famous person’s resilience came from their strong sense of purpose. But by contrast, when asked about their own resilience levels, they cited adaptability and then self-confidence as the key to keeping going in the face of setbacks.

The research showed that people can take motivation from the ‘headline’ aspects of celebrities’ achievements — for example, respondents all value purposefulness, but that doesn’t mean that people like Nelson Mandela didn’t also have to be incredibly self-confident and draw on large amounts of social support over the years.

Gordon Tinline, director at Robertson Cooper comments: “For this reason, especially in these times, it’s important that we are able to supplement our high profile resilience role models with a more localised one, people who work in similar contexts and share similar goals to ourselves.”

Tinline goes on to explain: “In many cases this will be our line managers and now is the time that UK plc is relying on this group to drive the recovery. Yes, they need to manage effectively, but as we strive to do more with less they have an important role in bringing less experienced staff on. Acting as an effective and accessible local role model is an important way in which they can achieve this.”

The pivotal role of the line manager in driving resilience and high performance is discussed by Gordon Tinline in this year’s Business Well-Being Network Annual Report — Well-Being and Resilience: the sustainable way to succeed. The Annual Report looks at well-being from lots of different perspectives and examines the implications for the UK workforce and the employers who have a vested interest in well-being. Among the contributors are: David MacLeod, Julian Baggini, Lord Richard Layard and well-being and HR practitioners who are implementing well-being initiatives inside their organisations.

The Annual Report is being released at the Business Well-Being Network Annual Conference. Industry experts and thought leaders speaking at the conference this year include Lord Richard Layard, who prior to the last election spoke of the need for the UK to focus not only on GDP but also GWB — General Well-Being; Julian Baggini, who will challenge assumptions about the nature and scope of well-being and Laurence Shorter will lead a panel discussion addressing the long-standing debate around who actually ‘owns’ well-being and where responsibility lies at a national, organisational and individual level.