This content was originally published on The Resilience Shift website. The Resilience Shift, a 5-year programme supported by Lloyd’s Register Foundation and hosted by Arup, transitioned at the end of 2021 to become Resilience Rising. You can read more about The Resilience Shift’s journey and the transition to Resilience Rising here.

How can we create resilient leaders and leadership on resilience during a time of crisis?

These are some of the questions explored on the latest Cities on the Frontline Speaker Series, featuring participants from the Resilience Shift’s innovative Resilient Leadership series.

Listen back and see the speaker presentations here

Cities on the Frontline is a weekly speaker series co-organised by the Resilient Cities Network and The World Bank Group since March 2020.

The purpose of the series is to share knowledge to help cities respond to the pandemic crisis and to plan towards recovery with resilience. Each week, the series brings together different experts and city practitioners to discuss specific topics and share tangible examples. Over 5,500 participants from around the world have attended the series, with a significant portion of the attendees being from city governments.

On this week’s episode, the series’ thirtieth, participants from the Resilient Leadership project came together to discuss the strategies, coping mechanisms and rapid innovations they undertook in real time as the Covid crisis unfolded. In essence, how did they create and embed resilience during a crisis.

Joining hosts Lauren Sorkin, Executive Director, Resilient Cities Network, and Francis Ghesquiere, Practice Manager for the World Bank East Asia and Pacific Region,  to reflect on resilient leadership in a time of crisis were:

Craig Kesson, Executive Director, Chief Data Officer and Chief Resilience Officer, City of Cape Town
Elaine Roberts, Chief Marketing Officer, Lloyd’s Register Group
Peter Willis, Project Leader, Resilient Leadership in Crisis
Seth Schultz, Executive Director, The Resilience Shift

The Resilient Leadership participants shared their thoughts on the power of reflective learning during crisis which they did as part of the project. Over 16 weeks from April to August, leaders from corporations, the World Bank and Chief Resilience Officers came together to reflect on what they were going through in leading their organisations during the Covid crisis.

The project demonstrated that even as cities and city leaders dealt with the toughest personal and professional challenges of their careers, setting aside time each week to actively reflect on what they were going through.

Summing up the mission of the reflective learning exercise, Resilient Leadership project lead, Peter Willis said,

“How can we do something that captures the ethos of just listening to others’ experiences, while at the same time being there for the people who need support during COVID.”

The powerful insights on leadership and resilience gained during these sessions cover technical leadership strategies, personal and social leadership strategies and the leadership behaviours that support the execution of those strategies.



“I hold a leadership title, but it’s something different to exercise leadership in a moment of such uncertainty. Leadership and its attributes have to be distributed in a coalition, while ensuring that someone has to give direction.”

Craig Kesson, Executive Director, Chief Data Officer and Chief Resilience Officer, City of Cape Town



“I’m thinking about leadership as a leader of a business, leader of people, and the leader of myself. Showing up in the right way and then bringing that to your leadership of people is essential to resilience.”

Elaine Roberts, Chief Marketing Officer, Lloyd’s Register Group


“Leadership isn’t just “˜it’s all fine, we’re going to get it done.’ Leadership is balancing stability and authority with vulnerability to validate your team’s experience in a crisis so they know they aren’t alone.”

Seth Schultz, Resilience Shift, Executive Director


To learn more about the Resilient Leadership project discussed on Cities on the Frontline and to access all the insights from the project visit the dedicated ‘Resilient Leadership: Learning from Crisis’ page with full access to the podcasts, summaries and takeaways from each week.