How Leaders Build Resilience in Good Times & Bad Times
New Book giveaway!!
20 complimentary copies available.
Leave a comment on this guest post by Dr. Jeanie Cockell and Dr. Joan McArthur-Blairn to become eligible to win one of TWENTY complimentary copies of, “Building Resilience with Appreciative Inquiry.”
*International winners will receive electronic versions.
Resilience isn’t something you have or don’t have. It’s a skill that must be practiced and fine-tuned.
Leaders build resilience as they cycle through hope, despair, and forgiveness.
We created a process called “Appreciative Resilience,” where leaders use the power of Appreciative Inquiry (AI) to build resilience.
How to build resilience:
Hope isn’t about being optimistic all the time. It’s about believing that, no matter what, the future will open to other possibilities.
Fostering hope builds appreciative resilience in the day-to-day. The practice of focusing on what is possible, what is hopeful, becomes a leadership habit of resilience—a habit of re-focusing on the possible.
Despair is an unwelcome guest that visits uninvited and it can show leaders what they truly believe in, what makes them strong, and how they can use their power most generatively.
In our work, we encourage leaders to focus not on the despair itself but on their strengths in times of despair. This can give leaders the stamina to venture even though it seems dark.
Forgiveness is a journey, moving back to hope from despair, and is the force that makes forward movement possible. In fact, it’s the only place in which minds can be changed and possibilities can be seen.
Leaders build resilience through forgiveness by giving up resentment, anger, and fear and stepping toward accepting things as they are. It requires that leaders both know and accept that people—including themselves—fail, in small or large ways.
To forgive a failure of someone else, like a team member, is to uplift them so they can grab on to the next project; it is to tell the entire team that failure can be part of good work; and it is to recognize the humanness and vulnerability of every person in the workplace.
How might leaders build resilience in themselves and others?
Dr. Jeanie Cockell and Dr. Joan McArthur-Blair, co-presidents of the consulting firm Cockell McArthur-Blair Consulting, are the co-authors of Building Resilience with Appreciative Inquiry. The veteran consultants’ latest book explores how leaders can use the practice of Appreciative Inquiry to weather the storms they’ll inevitably encounter and be appreciatively resilient.
Resilience can be built upwards and downwards don’y forget to help and protect in both directions
Forgiveness is an important aspect of Leadership. I have seen it work positively with my staff many times.
I work with resilience in my day job – researching and designing programmes to support the resilience of individuals and communities affected by conflict – yet I find in the international development sector we rarely take the time to examine resilience within your own teams. As leaders, we need support, guidance , confidence and skills to help foster environments were individuals and teams can develop and thrive and create space for building individual and team resilience. I see this book as a timely and valuable resource.
As a leader, I believe the concept of building hope for the possibilities is so much more valuable than being a leader who displays positivity in every issue and/or situation. A constant display of positivity by leaders can become a characteristic viewed by others as unrealistic and unrealistic when our organizations are faced with true challenges. Seeking hope allows us to accept the real struggles, while identifying a path of possibility. For me, this is the sign of an authentic leader, one who acknowledges the challenge is real, but guides toward the possibilities.
I like what you said about hope. Life is not linear, you just never know when there will be a bend in the road.
I would appreciate one of the free copies. I’d like to share this message with my newly formed and committed team,as this is the universal success factor in a well-running and heathly driven unit.
My goal is to build hope in each of my staff members. Often times we feel dispair and let it take over. We need to be reminded there is hope right around the corner.
I would love to read this. Yes, I can see where all of these factors can promote an amazing leader!
Such a timely conversation to be had as we move to such disruption in the human service world !
I really liked this post especially the part about foregiveness. I recently coached an employee through a tough project and I was disappointed by the way he acted when the stress got the better of him. While I provided him with this feedback I also let the slip up go as it was one of the few negative moments on an otherwise great implementation.
As a school leader, I work with my teams of teachers to teach and model resilience, and the benefits learned from taking a risk, making a mistake, and getting messy. I put myself out there and always admit it when I make a mistake. Appreciative inquiry is a great way to focus on what is working and how to get more success, instead staring at the gaps, and focusing on what is not working.
I truly appreciate the importance of focusing on your strengths when despair threatens to overwhelm you. It’s the difference between “This is a real challenge, but I believe I/we can handle it” vs “This is ‘too much’, ‘too hard’, or impossible”. At those times it’s enough to put one foot in front of the other, to do the next thing, to look for the possibilities.
I had a well seasoned mentor tell me one time the despair is like a bird that comes into your brain, it’s OK to allow it to pass through, but don’t let in build a nest.
This post connected with me as a school leader and having both staff and students “Fail Forward” in order to grow. If we are willing to forgive errors and mistakes, we can grow from them. And allowing others around us to grow from their errors shifts mistake-making from a place of despair to a place of hope. This was well timed for me!
I would love to win a free copy of this book. I am new to leadership and think it would be very beneficial to read.
I coach my team to focus on positivity and to identify the opportunities that arise from challenges. In an environment of continuous change, this is an important perspective. Great post!
Resilience is a great concept to understand as we all go through changes and situations constantly both personally and professionally. Thanks for bringing clarity to appreciate this process
I’d love to be able to read this! Thanks.
This post reminded me of “The Stockdale Paradox” noted by Jim Collins—the ability to face the brutal facts and to remain hopeful at the same time. This mindset can be shaped and nurtured and leads to powerful resilience.
I would add compassion to the list. Thanks for an inspirational post today!
Appreciative Inquiry is such a flexible way of being and seeing the world…personally and in groups. We use it now in our strategic planning process to focus on what is possible versus trying to “fix” what is wrong…it’s the same in so many situations – build on what is possible!
I would appreciate a copy of this new book. Such a timely topic during these trying times of difficult and controversial conversations. Resilience and forgiveness are key to pushing forward and building a cohesive team
Forgiveness allows us to move toward gratitude. which is key for true resilience.
Thank you! The more I learn about appreciative inquiry the more I try to apply it. Reminds me of the Heath brothers’ book _Switch_ when they talk about finding the “bright spots,” and _Leading Change in Healthcare_ by Dr. Anthony Suchman et al, and the tenets of Relationship-Centered care. They also use appreciative inquiry as a central tenet of that approach.
Better to focus on where your going than what you want to avoid. Onward!
Interesting and hopeful for leaders. Want the book.
I am a big believer in inquiry in all situations. I would love to learn more about their process of appreciative inquiry
How do perspectives gained by hope, despair and forgiveness build resilience? This is a must read!
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To show appreciation of some who has tried but failed on a project will allow you to build trust with the entire team. I have made mistakes in my career and will share them during a trying time. I believe a person willing to learn from failure will do a better job in the future. This is not something I have always been able to do easily. It takes patience and practice to show appreciation after a failure.
Quoting: “Hope isn’t about being optimistic all the time. It’s about believing that, no matter what, the future will open to other possibilities.”
Such great insight: First between the important link between resiliency and hope – hope providing the ‘fuel’ that sustains our resiliency. And then between the ‘passive’ hope (“If I’m optimistic, something good will happen for / to me.”) and the ‘active’ hope (“If I attend to the efforts that I can and need to make – effectively learning as needed, situations will open up to enable me to help others and thereby improve my life as well.”)
Thank you for your guest post. Thanks also for introducing me to Appreciative Inquiry – a phrase I’ll be Considering for understanding and subsequent use.
This is a very timely post and a topic I am learning more about every day as I try to reimagine my newly inherited team’s purpose. Over time, our senior leaders have changed, priorities have changed, services required by our customers have changed – yet my team’s work, skill sets and comfort level remains status quo. There is very little growth mindset, a lack of grit and resilience when changes are discussed and zero interest in process improvement. It seems to be the norm in my workplace (a federal government organization) as there are few (no?) incentives to change/improve/innovate. I remain hopeful, don’t typically spend too much time in despair and practice forgiveness as often as I can (need to work on this some more!)
I look forward to reading this book!
Enjoy this blog. Keep up the fun work.
I would love a copy of the book to share with my team.
Having been through a traumatic three years, I bear witness that forgiveness and resilience shapes leaders in bad as well as good times. Anchoring this to appreciative inquiry takes the discourse and outlook to a whole different level. A book like this fills a much needed gap in our disruptive and uncertain terrain.
This really resonates with me; have recently completed a leadership course on Appreciative Inquiry and have had the opportunity to start to implement some of what I have learned. Powerful stuff!! Love the notion that “Resilience isn’t something you have or don’t have. It’s a skill that must be practiced and fine-tuned”… I work in Emergency Services, and I think that resilience is key to a long healthy career… there is a tremendous opportunity for us as leaders to support our teams through increasing our collective capacity to be resilient…. in so many ways. Thanks for this post!! Would love a copy of the book!!!
Appreciate that hope is not blind optimism. Hope is something much deeper. Hope can erase despair, especially in a context of faith over and above the workplace.
I love this quote! So very true! “Hope isn’t about being optimistic all the time. It’s about believing that, no matter what, the future will open to other possibilities.”
We have discussed resiliences in my professional circle and it never seen it simplified to this level. Love it!
I will use this with my team to reinforce a subject that I think is incredibly important especially with how many changes are happening.
I would love to learn more!
This definitely is a book I will add to my list. As an educational leader, we are always looking for ways to educate the whole child. I see so many children who come from difficult situations and the impact on mental health is growing exponentially. I am currently working on my doctorate and my primary topic is resilience theory. The begging question is whether or not the traits of resilient people are transferable and if so, how do we integrate these skills into the classroom.
I would add confidence to this post as confident people are not afraid to fail and they find ways to learn through failure – that is the essence of resilience.
I love this in so many ways. yet another effective way to incorporate AI into our leadership practice.
There is danger in optimism or positive thinking if you are not pragmatic at the same time. We must be able to face facts and realistically evaluate where we are, what we are doing. and what’s working or not.
I never thought about forgiveness as such a key element to resilience, or as the link between despair and hope. Would love to read the book.
I think it is imperative that leaders have a vision of a better future that is clearly defined and can be articulated to others who can join them in making progress toward achieving that vision. If there is no “light at the end of the tunnel” how can one not fall into despair.
As leaders, Napoleon reminded us, we are dealers in hope (hope of a better future). That, ultimately, is what I am “selling” to my clients, workers, supporters, etc.
This part really resinated with me in my work life but also my personal life…..”Leaders build resilience through forgiveness by giving up resentment, anger, and fear and stepping toward accepting things as they are. It requires that leaders both know and accept that people—including themselves—fail, in small or large ways”.
Forgiveness is little practiced in the business world an when it is it sometimes just giving up on quality standards. Forgiveness isn’t saying that the action was ok or not that bad. Rather it is being truthful about actions, accountability and consequences and then recognizing the value of the individual and placing their value above the cost of the incident needing forgiveness. Stating that we can get past this together with hope and confidence in the future of the one that we are forgiving.
I would like to learn more.
My favorite part is-what is hopeful and what is possible… We all need to re-focus in order to believe. I feel like went to church after reading today’s blog!
Forgiveness and acceptance of reality and how things actually are is very important in leadership!
Resilience is key for both the leader and staff given the constant that is change in most organizations. A leader’s ability to show resilience in any given situation not only impacts the effectiveness of the workflow within their office, but impacts the quality of their direct reports.
Developing resilience is critical for leaders, followers, and individuals in general. My sense is that returning to hope in the face of despair requires the character qualities of integrity and accountability. We can instill hope with a sense of purpose or destiny — fulfilled by applying gifts, talents, and passions in service to a greater cause. Despair can diminish or obliterate hope through seemingly insurmountable obstacles or failures. Integrity and accountability serve as antidotes to despair by adhering to sense of purpose or destiny and by not deflecting blame or responsibility for failures, shortcoming, or unexpected circumstances. Forgiveness is absolutely necessary when resentment and anger surface, but not so otherwise. Leaders can build resilience in themselves and others through self-awareness, a deep-seated sense of purpose, the heart of a servant, transparent accountability for results, and willing to release anger and resentment through forgiveness when necessary. Thanks for the great post!
One way to build resilience is to think about the idea of failing forward. Errors or mistakes are often seen as negative rather than an opportunity to learn. That doesn’t mean that some lessons may be more difficult to move past, but one should still try to see what is to gain from the experience. The leader could be the one to create the culture of failing forward by acknowledging an error or seeking support from someone else in the group.
THis stands out for me, “Hope.
Hope isn’t about being optimistic all the time. It’s about believing that, no matter what, the future will open to other possibilities.”
I find that Hope can overcome the “Despair” that life usually throws one.
Great insights! Personally find that keeping our eye on the Vision is the surest way to maintain hope.
Very timely information for me! Thank you for this! I just found out that a critical member of my team will be leaving in January. Great reminder for me to focus on the growth opportunity for me as well as the team vs the ‘despair’ of this loss.
If we are not willing to model forgiveness, how can we ever expect this of the members of our organizations? It is the bedrock of #relationships. Now, perhaps, more than ever, we need this in our world.
Your definition of hope is much better than how I see it used so often in today’s world. We apply hope to situations like it is butter on bread. I hope things get better. Then do nothing to make things better, but maybe apply more hope.
It may sound nice to say to someone “I hope things turn around for you”, but what are you really saying?
To me hope is not a solution, its more similar to a vision for the future, the feeling of “I CAN do it”, or “I think I got this”. I believe we can have hope in ourselves or our situation, but not give “hope” to others. We can provide support to others for them to see the hope within themselves.
Thank you for defining hope in an “uncommon” way that fits fits in better with my thinking. Confirmation bias is so comforting. 🙂
I really like the inclusion of Forgiveness.
I’ve read other materials on resilience and I’m not sure their recipes include “Foregiveness”.
If I think about my resilience, I have to be able to move onward past blame, faults, and punishments in order to get to a better state. Forgiveness is a great way to describe what needs to happen to be able to move onward.
I often wonder if a bad memory helps with forgiveness. 🙂
This looks to be an incredibly interesting read! I love how forgiveness is highlighted and truly shines in this post as an important aspect for showing resilience! I would love to have the opportunity to read this book!
Recoganizing dispair and how Manage the effects is key in pressing forward. Thanks!
This is spot on for the happenings in our present society. Thank you for the brevity and clarity on how to return to HOPE!
Resilience is one attribute I believe can hold us strong in times after cumbersome. It can bring us back from the hardship and provides us a chance to face the challenge again. Inquiry is really helpful in exploring what it means to be resilient.
I am enjoying this anvil metaphor!
Exposure to new thoughts and ideas; get out of the comfort zone. Long-term commitment to the team. This can’t happen over night, but showing good character and being committed to those around you builds perseverance in yourself and allows others the opportunity to persevere with you.
This is a fantastic book. I highly recommend the work of these two talented authors. This book is poetic and practical, moving and inspiring. I had the pleasure to interview them on my podcast – you might enjoy listening in. It’s an intimate experience. http://positivitystrategist.com/building-leadership-resilience-with-appreciative-inquiry-ps92/
Letting my team know that failure can be a teacher, helps them to grow and to not always play it safe. Good article!
I appreciate the intentional reflection on despair. The realization that negative feelings will always be present in a leadership role, a leader’s ability to recognize the analysis of their despair can help guide employees with the same despair through the process to resilience.
Gratitude is always a great step in teaching a focus on appreciation of what a person does have and how they can play this role in helping others
I really enjoyed this perspective and concur with your beliefs. Thank you for sharing.
Thanks for your work. I share your articles with my supervisors at meetings and it always provides for a robust, reflective discussion.
Thank you for this post. Resilience is essential particularly when there are massive changes in procedure and personnel.
This is so timely. I have been working on the resilience question of late. My org is going through massive changes – many which should have happened years ago and failure to change created an untenable and unsustainable business model. My job now is to untangle the past and learn from it. In particular the “forgiveness” tenet above resonated. I have not yet forgiven past leadership for “letting this happen”. they did the best they could. It’s my turn to make change and set up the agency that doesn’t let things happen in the future.
This book sounds fascinating. For me, the perfectionist, forgiving myself is the most difficult thing in the world to do.
Resilience can definitely be learned and is one of the key qualities of leaders in today’s business environments
Forgiveness creates an environment of opportunity!
This is a fantastic model not only for leaders, but for them to model for their employees. Resiliency allows forward progress, as we get stuck in hopelessness, despair and the inability to forgive mistakes. As I am currently in a company in the midst of acquisition, our former leader used AI to instill skills that I am using today (we just didn’t realize it at the time).
Thanks for such a great post. I’d love to read this book.
Great info. We need to be willing to forgive ourselves and others. We all mistakes. We need to use the failures to be resilient ourselves and help others be resilient when they fail.
Practicing appreciative inquiry at this time of the year is especially important to reset a vision or goal within an organization.
Rachel’s comments are spot on. Many of the posts are very interesting, as well. That said, this blog post came at the right time today. This is exactly what I needed on this day, to remember to continue to be hopeful and apply forgiveness, as well. Can’t wait to read this book!
I think the best way for a leader to learn leadership would be to endure bad leadership first. If we have experienced first hand the perils of poor team management, we’re more likely to feel for our members more strongly. Of course it depends on whether the person concerned would learn from the experience or simply use the experience as an excuse of poor role models. But then again, that distinguishes a true leader from others, too. The ability to learn and grow.
Amazing how such few words can have so much power…hope (what we have), despair (what creeps in), and forgiveness (what we need to give and accept).
As a school leader I would really appreciate a copy of this book. I promote resilience by reminding my team of the strengths I recognise in them and to look for the positives. It’s easy to be brought down by the negatives in a situation. I relocate my own resilience by being grateful for opportunities that present themselves on a daily basis and the privilege of working with such a wide range of people who are passionate about the impact we can have.
Needed this one today! Thanks!
“[Hope is] about believing that, no matter what, the future will open to other possibilities.” Love that!
I would love a copy of this book to help me grow and learn as a leader!
How timely! I just received my 2018 performance appraisal and have some areas to work on in 2019!
Just curious where you think hope comes from. How does someone get it? Is it a mindset that you can derive from yourself – in your own mind – or does it come from an external source? Is it a “pull yourself up by your own bootstraps” kind of thing, or a trust in someone or something outside of yourself?
Leaders must have grit and resilience and show that to their people. Leaders must have the spirit of “I am either up or getting up”..
This isn’t just about work….these are life lessons. I’ve lived these both at work and personal. These are principals to live by. Going through an experience of my husband addicted to pain medication after a lengthy medical battles, job loss and treatment all while keeping my job and raising two very small children. You need to maintain hope for the future, recongize despair is normal but don’t let it last long and forgiveness. You must see that person as not perfection but walk in their shoes, understand their battles and allow forgiveness is freeing! Great article. Would love to read the book.
When we work with our clients we often say “I have hope for them when they cannot” and now that I’m a manager I find that I feel the same way when my team is struggling. The interesting thing about that is how individuals on our team can practice this resiliency with our clients but not their colleagues. This supports the idea that it is a skill and whether or not we practice this skill is often a choice.
Interesting approach. I read that the ‘despair’ might be self induced (failed to meet a deliverable on time) or result of non-controllable events (moved to new department, manager change, etc.).
I moved to a new position where I’d have daily interaction with an individual (“Bob”) that in my previous position was stained and contentious. Fair to say I was in ‘despair’. Fast forward 6 months and having ‘hope’ aka knowing it will get better, we’ve developed a good working relationship and understanding. Each of us being able to ‘forgive’ has lead to others that didn’t hold “Bob” in high regard to open their thinking.
I’m intrigued by the Appreciative Inquiry concept as it wasn’t really discussed in the blog.
I greatly appreciate this article. I am working with a very strong employee of mine whom I believe is “supervisor” material. I’ve been trying to find a way to introduce forgiveness into the workplace and this is an excellent approach. Thank you! It is my hope that she grow (along with me) either, to take my place, or get hired on at another institution.
Anyone claiming to be a leader has to go through the valley of despair in their path to become true leaders. Healthy dose of self-doubt is crucial in delivering world class service to both your customers and your team: there is no difference in these groups.
Love the phrase in the picture: I’ll print it out for my coaching! Thank you!
I appreciate and am going to use these ideas. Timely input for a changing world.
I love the use of the word “resilience”. Far too often team members can be offended by questions we ask-more often by how the question is asked than the content. Leaders should create an environment where calculated risks are taken and then (success or failure) inquire about 1) why the decision was made, 2) were there any other avenues considered, and 3) an examination of the results. Right/wrong, good outcome/bad outcome, etc. all have learning and teachable moments to share with other members of the team-perhaps not directly, but through opportunities to help hone others. This helps you peer into the decision matrix of the other leaders in your organization and see where they are doing things right (opportunities for praise) and perhaps where you can be a better guide/leader/coach/mentor to help them and everyone. Having such conversations more often gets the team used to them; therefore making them more resilient when the conversations aren’t necessarily comfortable. Thank you for the thought today.
Hope is definitely something that many people have lost. I strive daily to keep the hope alive!
Forgiveness is great and it shows you can get past the bad choice and learn from it to make things much better than they were. This sounds like a great book and I would love to read it.
When we understand that failure is unintended impact, we become more forgiving of ourselves and others.
Resilience is one of the essential qualities a successful leader should possess. It is needed to ensure the smooth passage of achieving the final goal as set by CEO with a clear vision. This quality helps the leader to get the possible solutions with a collective wisdom.
I have experienced the CEO of Indian multinational company calling for meetings with a short notice to discuss the sudden new development which might affect the company’s business and seeking the inputs from his core team.
Things really get sorted out with new tactics to face unforeseen challenges with the required resilience power of CEO.
Resilience in my opinion is the most underrated quality when people talk about leaders and as this article point out it’s something that must be developed through the good and bad experiences.
Love this article
“The most beautiful people we have known are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss, and have found their way out of those depths”
I would very much appreciate an opportunity to review this book. What you say about hope is most important in relation building resilience through the practice of forgiveness. The leader must model practice and model this quality. Failure so called is but a learning opportunity. Gratitude is equally important in supporting forgiveness and creating abundance which also supports hope. These practices, ways of thinking and acting are not only for the leader. Modeling these practices for those they lead is central to the work of leadership.
Such great points. I agree that hope and forgiveness will catapult you into a place of building resilience in your life. I have experienced this first hand.