Mobilising and developing our resilience in the face of disruptive change

What is resilience?
The noun resilience stems from the Latin resiliens, “to rebound, recoil.” When applied to people, resilience is a person’s ability to recover quickly from, for example, an unfortunate circumstance, illness, a difficult situation, or a shock. It is very much about being able to draw on internal energy to manage the situation and return to being able to function intentionally. So it is clearly very important for us all in the current circumstances of disruption caused by the covid 19 pandemic.

We see it as having an extra dimension and that is the ability to adapt to change. Covid 19 has been a major VUCA (Volatile, Uncertain, Complex and Ambiguous) event. Perhaps the prime example of VUCA. It has disrupted our normal life, our team working and our organizational working with the requirement to adapt rapidly to sudden constraints. Going forward it has the potential to produce a sequence of disruptions. How well equipped are we personally to adapt to this new series of pressures and disruptions? In order to be able to do so we may need to achieve some personal breakthroughs in how we handle the mental and emotional challenges of rapid and repeated change. Thus there is a need to look deeply into our resilience in order to determine what we may need to change in terms of our ways of thinking to navigate future challenges as a contributor, team leader and/or organizational leader.

How do I sustain and develop my resilience muscle?
Tony Schwartz¹ refers to resilience as a muscle that we need to exercise and stretch in order to maintain its power. He goes on to talk about the our sources of energy. The batteries that enable us to perform and also equip us to manage challenges. These batteries are physical, mental, emotional, social and spiritual. These are important sources of energy and also potential pitfalls if we exhaust them. The foundation building block is physical energy. We require keeping these batteries appropriately topped up. You can find out more here about how we help people become fully aware of these energy sources and challenge them to self-audit and develop the appropriate action plan.

Another way of building our resilience in the face of change is VUCA Prime. This is the work of Bob Johanson², distinguished fellow at the Institute for the Future, who developed a coping framework as a “VUCA counterweight” that he called VUCA PRIME. In the face of VUCA it calls for Vision, Understanding, Connection and Agility. Paula Cook, facilitator and coach explains it well in this youtube video -  

What is different about building my ability to adapt to change?
The key difference is making personal breakthroughs. This is taking it a step further than applying the techniques to recharge or reframe our perspective. It is about tapping into our resilience resource and using well tested techniques such as “immunity to change” or “resilience engine”³. 

The key focus areas include:

  • Awareness & Understanding: Developing a deeper appreciation of ourselves, our situation and our inner resources
  • Maintaining our Energy: Using our inner physical, mental and psychological resources mindfully and with a balanced versatility
  • Perspective Choosing: To enable congruence of our values and our priorities
  • Adaptive Learning fit for a Purpose: Allowing new habits/skills/know-how to emerge

The process involved is guided introspection with the support of a professional coach. You can find out more here.

Teams and Organisations
These techniques and approach also have value and can be applied to teams and organisations. In fact they can help build a team’s or organisation’s ability to adapt to unexpected and immediate change. The covid 19 pandemic has challenged organizational resiliency in ways that we have not experienced before. It calls for new thinking and new perspectives on what may be important for the organization to navigate the potential for further unexpected shocks.

What can the PPI Network provide?
We accompany the individual or team through a clearly bounded process providing facilitation, inputs and coaching as needed. Our professional facilitators and coaches are available to support significant adaptation on an individual, team or organizational level.

¹“The Way We’re Working Isn’t Working – The Four Forgotten Needs that Energize Great Performance” Tony Schwartz et al. ISBN 978-0-85720-048-8
²”The New Leadership Literacies” Bob Johanson.
³”Immunity to change” - Robert Kegan Lisa Laskow Lahey ISBN9781422117361 and “Resilience Dynamic® Book – Jenny Campbell; ISBN 978-1-78860-10!-5.

About the Author

Gerry Buckley

Gerry Buckley

Gerry Buckley is a Managing Partner of Performance Plus International (PPI) and a founding member of the PPI Network. He has a depth of experience in management development and training built up over many years, initially in Ireland, then in Africa and for the last 25 years in Europe based in Belgium.