Well, we’ve little doubt that, as leaders of complex organisations battling the challenges of the post pandemic tail, February probably feels more like November, such is the scale of the complex conditions in which you’re operating, the depth of uncertainty and the height of the performance bar. If the chatter in your boardroom doesn’t feature the term “resilience”, we’ll eat our branded hats. Resilience, until recently, was a term reserved for elites or extremes:
- endurance athletes
- adventurers and explorers
- special forces personnel
- contact sports players
- disaster survivors
It was an implied measure of how much punishment an individual can take before either achieving triumphant success of failing spectacularly. It wasn’t for the workaday, the average and the mundane unless they worked under a theory x, command and control, output-pushing management regime.
It took a pandemic, however, to jostle the term out into the open until it became openly discussed, as it is now, given the ongoing debates about:
- how much pressure leaders and managers can soak up
- how much insecurity and burden employees can endure
and has somehow morphed into an implied challenge; “Just how resilient are you….eh?”
It’s a term far more suited to the toxicity debates that pre-dated the Covid crisis, the identity politics that suggested that one of the symptoms of alpha competitive behaviour was inverted competitiveness, unhealthy silences, and worse coping mechanisms.
In short, in business, resilience has never really been a good thing over a significant period of time because:
1. It hides but doesn’t address underlying problems with the system that are causing the stress on the system and the individuals
2. It reinforces behaviour that isn’t sustainable
3. Quite frankly, nobody, not even those being remunerated above director level, should have to simply endure their work in return for a salary.
So, in the context of leadership behaviours that are fit for the future, not just now, we reframe resilience to ensure that it is explored:
- from both the individual and organisations’ perspective
- in the round, taking all of it’s key drivers into account
- in the light of the prevailing corporate culture and socio-political landscape
As crisis gives way to uncertainty and opportunity, future fit leaders have to listen, adapt and innovate at a pace commensurate with the pressures of the age. We reframe resilience as a measure to determine the pace of leadership development. We, enable future fit leaders to understand the learning process, to fail faster, recover agilely and continuously improve rather than being afraid to be seen to be invincible and dodge risks as a result. We teach them to bend and flex rather than break, but from a core that remains consistent, stable and rooted in core values.
We’re very pleased to be helping a number of organisations explore the role of resilience amongst their leadership cohort, but from a balanced, pragmatic perspective, developing tactics for building and sustaining resilience when it’s most needed during the leadership journey.