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Handling de-resilient leadership

In his previous article Paul Kudray challenged readers to attempt to find out if their organization's leaders are resilient or de-resilient. In this article he addresses what to do if your organization and leaders aren’t as resilient as they would like to think they are!

Since posing the challenging question about de-resilience in my previous article, we’ve sadly witnessed more tragic atrocities against society. Whatever the reasons are behind any acts of terrorism, and however they may change us, life carries on. To do anything less than continue, would be giving in; and that’s not in our DNA!

It goes without saying that we feel sickened and saddened by what happened in Paris – and is still happening for many in areas such as Beirut and Syria. Words sound hollow, but we have every sympathy for those affected by disaster. It is one of our strongest motivators for continuing to build more resilient capabilities and societies for the future.

With greater resilience in mind - did you ask them? Did you have the audacity to face the challenge and ask your boss ‘the’ question?

“Our business continuity management system, our crisis plans, our disaster recovery: do you know 100 percent that they’re truly resilient, no matter what? Or would you rather just believe that they are?”

I suspect some of you will have asked the question, because that’s the type of character and personality you are; you have a great relationship with your boss and as a result, the subject and the difficult question wasn’t that hard to approach. It’s empowering when you have a great leader, an authentic leader who really does inspire resilience

Wouldn’t it be great if we could all say yes to having that kind of boss!

Bad romance

Unfortunately, some of us don’t have great relationships with our boss. It may be that your leader doesn’t actually pay that much attention to our field of work. It’s a nice to have; it’s not a headline operational, performance indicating business; the business doesn’t get measured by resilience. Erm … will when it hits the fan!

In this case there’s an early symptom of the condition we can define as a ‘de-resilient leadership style’.  The ‘romance’ (and not in an intimate way), is bad from the start, because your leader has already made their mind up.

Born Slippy or Blinded by the Light?

What was the outcome of the conversation you had with your leader? And just what did they say?

If you asked and got a positive response coupled with an interested: “Hey you know what, if we’re not as resilient as I want, let’s make it happen” type of answer, then that’s a fantastic result. Well done you! Your organization might slip up from time to time, but they won’t fall as hard and they’ll be able to pick themselves up and be resilient to (almost) anything

If you didn’t ask the question, why not? Unless one of you was absent, it’s likely that it’s not just the leader and organization culture that’s at fault. You are playing a part in this too.

We hear so many emergency and business continuity managers saying: ‘our leader can’t do what we need’ or ‘our boss won’t give us the support we’d like’, yet when the opportunity comes to do something different, they don’t take it. We are blinded by the light so to speak. Making us just as bad as the de-resilient leader. We follow their lead and in turn become a ‘de-resilient resilient lead.’

What is a de-resilient leadership style?

Away from the giddy professional heights alluded to by establishment bodies, the reality of much business resilience, is not text book perfect. I’ve had many discussions with people like you and me, who think most organizations other than theirs have this right. Unfortunately, there are far too many companies not giving resilience the love and care it deserves. This has given rise for the need to identify, in simple terms, the leadership style that doesn’t actively provide what it should and can do.

By this I mean in respect of resilience leadership.

A de-resilient leadership style is defined as one which ‘denies or depresses’ resilience as a result of these seven traits:

  1. “It’s never going to happen.”
  2. “We don’t need it.”
  3. “I don’t know about it.”
  4. “It’s not my job – it’s your job.”
  5. “I don’t want to know about it.”
  6. “I don’t know just how resilient we are.”
  7. “I think we’re resilient, but I don’t know it.”

I could add an 8th one on there: “what does resilience do or mean?” But if you get that answer from your leader, I don’t think you need bother going through the seven points to define just what the leadership style is. Enough said! In Monopoly terms, go directly to jail and do not collect $200 or £200 on the way! Oh and maybe call a headhunter…

Come on, feel the noise

Once we reach the stage where we - in the professional field of emergency, disaster and business continuity management - can actively start to define the leadership styles we work with, we can feel the ‘noise’ around us in which we operate and we can start to make changes collectively together

By this I mean we’re not shaming leaders into action, but we are creating a new concept that will start to circulate and who wants to be classed as a de-resilient leader or organization?

Note that leaders lead but they also follow other leaders and influencers to stay ‘current’.

Use it or lose it

I’ve had to write reports to leaders on ‘our’ assurance capabilities. Most times I look to the latest guidance and wording to help give a position statement of facts. Using the latest concepts and models allows us to compare. It works. If we don’t use it, but continue to keep saying what we’ve said previously, then we’ll continue to get what we got previously – some denial and depression on resilience capabilities. De-resilient is a great, yet simple term that allows us to sum up where we feel our capability is weak. It allows us to lead our leaders to the greatness we know they can achieve! This one small change will start the momentum rolling and give us something new to benchmark against, rather than the same, same, same approach we’ve been very good at in the past.

Don’t fear the reaper

Blue Oyster Cult’s classic track (great for Spinning to by the way), is an appropriate title to use to say keep in touch! Tell me how you got on and how you’re getting on? I’m not here to tell you what you already know. I’m here to coach, mentor and inspire you to create even greater resilience through leadership.

Don’t fear the reaper because we don’t need to fear it. We just need to enable different and new ways to enter our industry to help others. This is a continual long term process and next week we’ll talk about coaching and mentoring our bosses to move away from de-resilient leadership and become authentic resilient leaders.

The author

An international leader in business resilience consultancy, training and coaching; Paul Kudray, MSc MEPS CBCI AMBCI, is an ex-emergency services commander who finished an exemplary 32 year career in the UK healthcare sector, working for the NHS - culminating in 7½ years as the Director of Resilience for one of the world’s largest ambulance services, NWAS NHS Trust. He now works with private and public sector clients around the world, training, advising, coaching and mentoring them at the highest levels about emergency and business continuity management. Paul's company is KCL. Contact him at m: +44 (0)7918 183925 e:

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