Resilience: Q&A with Lydia Guthrie

In February 2019, we’re excited to be in London for a joint event on the topic of Resilience with our colleague, Lydia Guthrie, Co-Director of Change Point Ltd. Lydia will be talking about her work in this field, and we’ll be showcasing content from the new experiential, drama-based training programmes we’ve been developing together.

By way of little a ‘taster’ for the event, we caught up with Lydia for a quick Q&A. Hope you enjoy it. And, if you’d like to know more about February’s complimentary (free of charge) event, take a look here.

Hi Lydia, how are you looking forward to our Resilience event in February?

Hi Peter. I’m really looking forward to working with you and the team. I’ve admired Enact’s work for a long time, and it’s great to be joining forces with you for this event.

It’s an important topic. What does Resilience mean to you? And where does ‘bouncebackability’ fit in?

Resilience means a lot to me, and I’ve spent a lot of time researching it, writing about it, and helping teams and organisations to think about it. I first became interested in resilience when I worked in a very challenging environment in the criminal justice system. I was a manager, responsible for a team of people who did very difficult jobs, working with people who had committed serious offences. Each individual staff member showed their stress in different ways. Some talked a lot about their concerns, and approached me with lots of minor problems, whereas others told me they were “fine” but clearly weren’t! I learned that, for my team to perform well and to stay healthy, I needed to tune in to people and support them in ways which suited them.

I then did lots of reading about theories of resilience, including some studies of resilience in different work environments, and found that it’s rarely the actual work which causes long term difficulties for staff – it’s more to do with issues such as how the team functions, and how empowered people feel. I wrote a chapter about resilience in an academic book about the criminal justice system, and I am passionate about working with teams to build a resilient culture.

Bouncebackability is usually referred to as a person’s ability to recover from challenging situations. I like to think of it in a wider way – it’s how organisations support people to prepare for challenges, cope with them, and learn from them, in order to establish a positive culture around resilience.

Are there pitfalls companies need to avoid when seeking to increase Resilience?

Resilience can sometimes be thought of as a quality of an individual person – “Bob is much more resilient than Bill – he never complains and can cope with anything, but Bill’s a bit flaky”. This way of thinking can be appealing in the short run, but it’s much more complex than that. Individual factors do play a part, and we can all learn skills which are linked with increased resilience. And, an individual’s resilience will fluctuate over the course of our life – we all have times when we may struggle a bit with work due to other events in our lives, like bereavements or separations. The main lesson from research is that it’s important not to overlook the importance of organisational culture. Resilience is linked with organisations which seek to empower the workforce, and give them some control over aspects of the working environment. It’s not at all accurate to think of resilience as being just a quality which some individuals have and others don’t.

Resilience is just one of the issues your company, Change Point Ltd, works on. Tell us a bit more about what you do?

I spent 11 years working in the Probation Service, as a front line worker and a manager. Since 2009, I have been Co-Director of Change Point Ltd, with my colleague, Clark Baim. We design and deliver training which focuses on relationships, focusing on themes such as supervision, resilience, attachment theory, motivational interviewing and working with people’s strengths. We work mainly in social care, criminal justice, and health sectors. We also write books, and are passionate about supporting people to continue to develop their skills at work. I also do a lot of supervision of people who work in health and social care environments, and I’m training as a psychotherapist.

We’ve had a great time working with you creating new content. How do you like collaborating with others? We’re not fishing for compliments, honest.

I love collaborating! I’d much rather be working as part of a team than on my own. I love developing ideas with other people, and polishing them until they shine. And it means that I don’t get so lonely! 😊 The Enact team are great to work with, as you bring such experience and creativity to the work.

What do you make of the drama-based, experiential angle we bring to things?

Drama is a great way of helping people to learn. It really helps people to relate theory to their workplace, and to think and feel about how things might work in practice. And it’s fun!

So, what’s next? Obviously, there’s our event in February, but what else? What are you hoping for in 2019?

In 2019, I’m going to be focusing on finishing my systemic psychotherapy training. I’m also going to be delivering more training on attachment theory, and doing more work to support teachers in primary and secondary schools to build their resilience.

Sounds great. Thanks so much for taking the time to answer our questions, Lydia. Have a fabulous Christmas and see you again soon.


Leadership training – Playing a different tune

It ain’t what you do (It’s the way that you do it)

At Enact, we employ techniques and principles from the world of drama to help people in organisations learn more effectively. Lots of what we teach (we’ll use that word as shorthand for what we’re about) is readily available in books and online, and yes, from other consultants and training providers, but it’s the way we deliver it that gets results.

“The way the whole course was delivered really affects you and makes you think about things differently.”

“I enjoyed the format of the training and found I took in more info than usual training.”

“After six months, people still remember the training and have noticed a significant increase in awareness of the issues raised and changes in behaviour.”

Delegate Feedback

What’s going on?

Put simply, we show people something, that causes them to feel something, that fuels change. Using realistic and relevant dramatised scenes, alongside experiential exercises, we put feelings back at the heart of the learning experience. Which makes it much more likely the lessons will stick and turn into action back in the workplace.

The brain science behind this centres on a cocktail of three organic chemicals – Dopamine (which plays a role in reward motivated behaviour), Noradrenaline (which increases arousal and alertness, focuses attention, and enhances formation and retrieval of memory) and Acetylcholine (which is also implicated in learning and memory). Our drama-based approach gives the learner the kinds of experience that will stimulate these physiological responses, making it more likely the learning will make a real difference.

Leadership training, especially developing inclusive leadership capabilities, is one area where our approach comes into its own.

I’ll be your mirror

People have such strong, common sense notions about what it means to be a proper leader that it can be difficult for them to envisage alternative approaches. Throughout the many years we have been working with leaders, we’ve found that using drama to hold up a mirror to their behaviours really helps them to recognise their own style, understand its impact, and identify ways they can change for the better.

By way of example, explain to leaders how they should aim to listen more and talk less when dealing with team members, and these days it’s unlikely many will disagree. Most will probably tell you it’s their preferred approach. Alternatively, present them with an under-pressure fictional leader (played by one of our professional actors), who’s in a hurry to get to their next meeting and as a result quickly working through a standardised ‘team huddle’ agenda with their team members, then they’ll start to reflect about their own behaviour.

Who’s asking nearly all the questions, deciding what’s a problem, and coming up with most solutions? What’s it doing to the engagement of the team? What’s the energy in the room like? What do you think the long-term outlook for this group is likely to be? We can even hear from different team member’s, like Jenny, who never bothers to make suggestions for improvements any more because ‘no one’ listens, or Amiya who is resistant to changes to ways of working because she’s not received the training everyone else has. Makes you think. Makes you feel, too, which is powerful.

We never tell anyone, ‘This is about you.’ Usually, we say, ‘It’s fictional and exaggerated to draw out the learning,’ only to be told, ‘No, that’s exactly what it’s like here.’ From there it’s a short step to exploring alternatives, trying them out through our fictional characters, and seeing what happens as a result. It’s powerful, active experimentation that provides lessons leaders can apply back in the workplace.

“It provokes you to think about the issues in a way that just seeing a written format or e-learning could not. If you see real people, it is easier to empathise and consider what is happening to them.”

“Raised awareness and prompted future action.”

Delegate Feedback

The world keeps turning and someone’s learning

In case you haven’t guessed, we’re proud of how well our approach works. Results from recent Inclusive Leadership programmes show that delegates:

  • Have a clearer appreciation of what’s expected of leaders (96%);
  • Understand more about how inclusive practices support business success (95%); and
  • Have fully explored the challenges facing leaders like themselves creating an inclusive workplace (92%).

No surprise then that most delegates say they found their time with us worthwhile (96%).


Of course, nothing stays the same and our inclusive leadership material continues to evolve. We’re currently weaving in elements of Compassionate Leadership for a session we’re delighted to be running for the HPMA on 29 November 2017 as part of their ‘Compassionate leadership, compassionate care‘ event at The Queens Hotel, Leeds. We’re looking forward to it. If you’re planning to attend, be sure to check out the session. Do come and have a chat, too, if you’d like to find out more about our work in this and other areas.