Developing Resilient Organisations

Doug Strycharczyk and Charles Elvin. Kogan Page. £29.99

Mon, Aug 11, 2014, 01:00


Book Title:
Developing resilient organisations


Doug Strycharczyk , Charles Elvin

Kogan Page

Guideline Price:

The need for resilience or mental toughness among corporate leaders is one of the more popular themes in management literature and this volume looks at how organisations as well as individuals can develop such traits.

According to the authors, this form of toughness transcends simply gritting your teeth in the face of adversity. It is more a case of wanting to bring it on, embracing the possibilities that corporate challenges present, regardless of how uncomfortable they may appear. Some see threats where others see opportunities.

The pace of change has accelerated and it is important to notice change, to be aware of its direction and to understand it. Second it is important to understand the consequences of change which will mean trying to anticipate further change. Change for most people is uncomfortable, requiring people, organisations and societies to change how they see things and the way that they behave.

The book is presented in two parts, with the first looking at the current environment for business and its key challenges. The second is a collection of essays on subjects that the authors see as vital for organisations to address in a more uncertain environment.

The extent to which we maintain control is the key to being resilient and there are two sub-components of this. The first is life control, which indicates the extent to which we believe we can shape what happens to us. The second is emotional control, which is concerned with how we deal with our anxieties, frustrations, anger and other emotions.

Having a positive attitude to challenge is also key. Few things are more powerful in the human psyche than belief in one’s own abilities. When an opportunity arises, a confident person knows that this is a chance to shine and will exert effort in a bid to demonstrate competence. When setbacks inevitably occur, those confident in their own abilities believe that persistence will ultimately be rewarded.

Unsurprisingly, mental toughness is related to extraversion. Studies have shown that interpersonal confidence is positively associated with extraversion as well as assertiveness and independence.

If an individual has ambitions to move into leadership, these are clearly useful characteristics. Resilience is not a macho preserve, it is noted. Women can be equally resilience and mentally tough.

Encouragingly, resilience is a characteristic that can be developed and the authors present a model for how this can be done, focusing on improvement performance in key areas such as commitment and confidence.

Training has a key role and should focus on positive thin- king and affirmation, visualisation, anxiety control, attention control, and goal setting.

One of the more interesting chapters contrasts the characteristics, behaviours and attitudes of the born digital generation and their older colleagues. On the plus side, millennials are seen as flexible, brighter and faster working than previous generations and tend to have a greater sense of social responsibility than previous generations.

On the other hand, their fast-pace mode of operating makes them more accident prone, their all-pervasive digital engagement makes them unhealthier than others and it is suggested here that, on average, they will earn less than their parents did over their lifetime.