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How Leaders Can Transform Adversity into Opportunity

Corporate resilience was put through a series of challenges around the globe since early 2020, and these challenges continue today as we attempt to navigate life post-pandemic. Whether they were ready or not, businesses were forced to make decisions that meant reacting, adapting, rethinking resources, tools, business models, and transitioning many other elements of their operations.

This sink-or-swim mentality meant not only having a modern roadmap for the uncertain future, but also determine what was needed to survive—and thrive—in the face of adversity.

The answer? Resilience.

Why corporate resilience is crucial for success

Whether an organization can deal with stress, thrive in adversity, and recover from a crisis determines its level of resiliency. We live in an unpredictable, dynamic environment that demands resilience in order to succeed.

In 2020, resilient leadership was put to the ultimate test and continues to struggle today. We are more acutely aware of organizational fragility and what is required of leadership to get us to the other side relatively unscathed.

Leadership responsibility

Being a resilient leader is more than having a roadmap or action plan. It requires a strong team that feels empowered and trusted, contingency plans for resources, and a support system with protocols in place that nurture and protect your organization. Enabling your team to survive – and thrive – throughout a crisis is the definition of a resilient organization.

“According to global business advisory firm FTI Consulting’s Resilience Barometer 2020, 90% of C-suite and senior managers in large firms across G20 countries faced a crisis situation over the past 12 months, and 87% said there had been some negative impact on themselves. More than a third (36%) reported mental health issues as a result of the crisis, and 34% said their physical health — for example, exhaustion, burnout, or poor diet — had been affected. A similar number suffered interrupted sleep.” – Financial Management, How leaders can build business resilience by Oliver Rowe

Leaders must focus their efforts equally between impending and immediate risks in all types of dynamic circumstances. Having the ability to anticipate, adapt, and act accordingly enables leaders to operate resiliency and maintain it throughout. In addition to risks, leaders should monitor central organizational metrics to ensure they have the tools and resources required to handle problems as they arise.

By building resiliency, leaders and their teams can gain confidence in each other’s ability to navigate through a difficult situation together.

Read More: The Uncomplicated Truth About Leadership

Actions that lead to a resilient future

Find value

It’s not enough to survive; resilient leaders know the importance of finding value during an organizational challenge. In a crisis, there is always an opportunity to find new solutions and establish new values for the business. Elements like business models, organizational relationships, client dynamics, and industry standards all fluctuate, causing those who fail to find value in adaptability to struggle to keep up.

Shift in attitude

A new generation of leaders is taking the old reaction-based response to crisis and flipping it on its head by reinventing new, modern ways to do business. They’re discovering the value of empowering and inspiring teams to stick together and move forward with one collective goal.

Gone are the days of the “need-to-know” basis of transferring information from top-down. Being transparent is the only way to instill confidence in your ability to lead. By being direct, clear, and prepared with actionable plans (and a sense of humanity, of course), leaders are gaining more trust from those they manage, making it easier to transition from the normal day-to-day operations to defensive mode.

Read More: Why Transparency Is Crucial for Company Culture

Get structured

Forbes outlines seven pillars – each making up a resilient organization. Each pillar must operate efficiently independently yet be cohesive simultaneously. Which pillars are your organization familiar with, and which could use some more attention?

  1. Strategy: Define the transformation journey and ambition
  2. Growth: Drive customer focus, product innovation, and market/revenue growth
  3. Operations: Transform and modernize operations
  4. Technology: Accelerate digital transformation
  5. Work: Transform the work, workforce, and workplace
  6. Capital: Optimize working capital, capital structure, and business portfolio
  7. Society: Steward environmental and social resources through trust, response, governance, and measurement

Source: Forbes, The Journey Of Resilient Leadership: Building Organizational Resilience by Punit Renjen.

Adaptability and flexibility

It’s safe to assume that leaders who can adapt and operate with flexibility have experienced the trials and errors of failed responses to challenges. Adaptability requires varied responses, diversity, and collaboration, while flexibility is demonstrated through realistic expectations, focus, and organization despite rapidly changing situations.

By establishing structure through adapting under pressure, organizations are better situated for flexibility.

Encourage diversity

How can an organization be resilient if it operates on only one perspective? Resilience is dependent on the ability to think of several reactions and alternative ways of tackling challenges.

A diverse range of responses in stressful situations from individuals with different backgrounds, skills, and cognitive profiles helps to mitigate risk and irreparable failure. While it may not feel absolutely efficient, it truly is the difference between a breakthrough and a breakdown.

Discover advantages in adversity

There are two ways of looking at a problem. One – just a problem. Two – an opportunity to learn, grown, and strengthen your organization. Avoid seeking to simply mitigate risk or fix a problem. Always look for the advantage of adversity and what it has to offer you, your team, and the organization as a whole.

Anticipate and plan

What can happen when you’re driving, and you’re only looking at the dashboard, rear mirror, and left and right windows? Sure, you get an understanding of how things are going and where you stand in the present, but you have no idea what’s ahead or how to prepare.

Don’t forget to look forward; it’ll help you to anticipate what’s coming and navigate through a crisis.

Establish routines, protocols, and procedures

If your organization doesn’t have SOPs, you’re more at risk of struggling during a crisis. Simply put, the ability to act decisively with materials that are clear, thorough, and fitting to the particular situation at hand means faster response, limited failures, and reduced disruption in business operations. It may be daunting to invest the time and resources into routines, protocols, and procedures, but think of them as a type of insurance – they’re there to help you when you need it most.

Tip: Don’t forget to routinely update your materials to keep them current.

Invest in employees and corporate culture

Setting the tone for culture can be a challenge when there seem to be so many other priorities in the way. But arguably, the most important aspect of a resilient culture is investing in the employee experience and having a clear idea of what culture means for your operations. Leadership needs to understand where risk in performance lies and how to maintain productivity without losing morale, particularly among remote employees.

Read More: Strengthening Culture in Hybrid Work Environments

Be innovative and agile

There’s no piecemeal approach to solving a crisis – challenges must be met with innovation and agility in order to have a chance at success and resilience. Building an organization where leaders empower, challenge, and reward their teams means innovation and novel ways of problem-solving are within reach. Through collective agility, moving forward quickly and adapting to major issues is a reality, not a goal.

Embrace change

While organizations crave stability, growth sparks from change. To be resilient doesn’t simply stem from situational adjustments in extreme circumstances; it comes from proactively establishing support systems and experimenting with what works and what doesn’t. By making incremental changes through testing and measuring metrics, leaders are mitigating risk and are better prepared than if they made big changes right off the bat.

If leaders start to see change as the default, they’ll have an easier time adapting.

The Takeaway

A resilient culture is one that is built to adapt, on a path for innovation and growth, and anticipates challenges. When leaders, teams, and all other elements of an organization thrive collectively, the benefits are clear, and we can shape our society for a more resilient future.

As we head into the future of work, if your organization is suffering hardships that are presenting themselves in workplace conflicts, consider consulting with a neutral third party to get help resolving distracting, challenging situations. Professional mediation services empower all participants involved to settle on an agreeable solution that will ultimately propel your organization forward.

At Global Mindful Solutions, we have established a process that aims to provide insightful, comprehensive solutions with a compassionate and unbiased approach. This allows everyone involved to focus on getting back to work and continue making a positive contribution to their organization while leading a fulfilling role in their careers.

Contact Global Mindful Solutions to get started with neutral, knowledgeable, and effective mediation and facilitation services.

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