Monday, June 27, 2011

A Culture of Resilience

“…we believe key leadership personnel, often frontline leadership, appear to have the ability to "tip" the organization in the direction of resilience and to serve as a catalyst to increase group cohesion and dedication to the ‘mission’." ~ George S. Everly, Jr., citing Malcom Gladwell

A couple of years ago, I assisted with compiling information from the High Reliability Organizing – What It is, Why It Works, How to Lead It training session sponsored by the Fire and Aviation Directorate Division of Fire Operations (BLM). I had limited knowledge of HRO at the time; however, I’ve resolved to become a student of fire on the subject. The “Mars Dead or AliveLeadership in Cinema lesson plan has been a by-product of a commitment to better understand the topic and contribute to the betterment of the organization.

As part of my ongoing HRO knowledge pursuit, I share highlights from an HBR Blog Network post titled “Building a Resilient Organizational Culture” by George S. Everly, Jr., Ph.D., Associate Professor of Psychiatry at The Johns Hopkins School of Medicine and Executive Director of Resiliency Science Institutes at the University of Maryland Baltimore County Training Centers.

Frontline leaders are key to building a resilient culture. In a 2007 evaluation of L-380 Fireline Leadership, The Guidance Group, Inc. concluded that “training is producing significant improvement in performance of course participants…” These frontline leaders are modeling the attributes which Everly and his colleagues say have the “ability to ‘tip’ the organization”:

  • Optimism
  • Decisiveness
  • Integrity
  • Open communication while serving as conduits and gatekeepers of formal and informal information flows throughout the organization and enjoying high source credibility (ethos)

Everly and his colleagues suggest employing the following framework to build a resilient organization:

  • Understand that people prosper from success.
  • People learn while observing others.
  • Provide encouragement, support, and even mentoring.
  • Provide basic training in how to manage personal stress.

Resiliency traits of successful HROs:

  • Resilient organizations invest in their client base.
  • Resilient organizations are innovative in times of adversity.
  • Resilient organizations invest in their leaders.
  • Resilient organizations invest in all levels of their workforce.

Source: Building a Resilient Organizational Culture, George S. Everly, Jr., HBR Blog Network, June 24, 2011.