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Addressing resilience in the top team

Coaches from around the world consider resilience

Preliminary results from a team resilience research inquiry have indicated an organisation’s resilience is dependent, up to 50% on that of its senior management team . This has implications for how resilience is developed as a capability within leadership development.

We all have an interpretation of the word yet seldom stop to think what it really means. Indeed it is often said that women are more resilient than men and yet research shows that this is not the case. Women do cope with multiple demands and appear to manage a disparate array of activities, yet will take much of the stress on board and will not necessarily look after their own wellbeing.

In a ground breaking study of resilience, Jenny Campbell of Lifetimeswork embarked on a number of key research inquiries to find out what personal resilience is, and then how to build team and organisational resilience too. Jenny describes it as:

“..the ability to overcome setbacks and absorb any learning offered by those setbacks, quickly and at minimum cost. It includes coping well with high levels of on-going disruptive change, sustaining energy when under pressure, bouncing back easily from setbacks, overcoming adversity, changing ways of working to incorporate learning when old ways are no longer possible and doing all of these things without acting in dysfunctional or harmful ways.” Jenny Campbell of Lifetimeswork.

Coping might be a part of resilience yet is clearly not everything. Those with the highest resilience don’t really talk about setbacks, in fact they don’t really experience them, apart from death/ critical illness, because the issues are smoothed before they arise.

Addressing resilience in the coaching fraternity

Anne Archer, one of GCA’s Associate Executive Coaches, recently joined Jenny Campbell at the first Global International Coach Federation annual conference to be held outside of the US. The themes of the conference were to connect, inspire and learn. They were selected from a competitive group of potential catalysts to run a session at the conference, attended by 50+ countries. Their aim was to engage the participants in an exploration of their own resilience, and then to encourage a broader inquiry that starts to embrace team and organisational resilience. This was an opportunity for Jenny and Anne to present an invitation for a wider collaboration into community and organisation resilience.

The Resilience Engine ©

Both Anne and Jenny were inspired by the way the group worked with the concepts of resilience and in particular the resilience engine ©.

The resilience engine © comprises of three components. The inner resources contain 2 beliefs and 7 attitudes. The external goal focus is about having a clear outcome that is outwardly directed. Finally, keeping the engine moving is the adaptive capacity which enables the other two to remain in connection. This component has three components: perspective; supporting oneself and a pacing cycle.

What became apparent at the conference was that resilience is a topic of discussion within coaching sessions among global leaders and communities. It was evident that being able to have this capacity oneself as a coach would also enhance one’s capability for enabling others to build theirs.

Moving on

As part of a global research cohort Anne and Jenny are researching further into the impact of top teams on a company’s ability to meet the demands of our current times. Early findings are that:

  • Consistency of culture, communication, message, values, style of decision making and trust matters
  • The culture needs to show consensus, be inclusive and collaborative
  • The whole organisation should be able and willing to learn
  • There needs to be an emotional contract between the organisation and the employee
  • The challenges of resilience must be met such as stress and workload; prioritisation must be ruthless
  • Difficulties and ambiguity need bringing up and out and not hidden from staff.

The conference was an exciting opportunity to see first-hand how this work can come alive and provide interesting outcomes across a diverse group of people and cultures. The work transcends the different cultures and enabled fascinating and insightful conversations to take place.

The research team are on the lookout for more senior management teams to ensure that further understanding and insight can result. Suitable teams have the opportunity to explore the personal resilience of each team member, an exploration of the team’s capacity for resilience and interventions that address ways to enhance the overall resilience of that team.

Anne Archer

Anne Archer, GCA Executive Coach.

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