Is Resilience the Right Word?

February 26, 2019
Rebecca Hopkins

The call for resilience is certainly loud. It’s fashionable. Take a look at any job description or competency framework and you will find resilience listed as a top requirement for success in most workplaces. It’s desirable and assessable. It’s an employee’s ‘must have’.

Change is the new normal so every one of us must be resilient to handle it and still perform.

Without resilience we will falter.

If we are resilient then we are strong and not weak.

If we show resilience then we will overcome and be successful.

Or Wrong?

Well I would say wrong on all counts, and that is because the state of resilience implies a negative response to a situation that requires you to bounce back from the event.

It implies a state of recovery. It suggests endurance is required to be resilient. I read once that being resilient is like adopting the brace position in readiness for a crash. It’s a very individual response, it may look like retreat in some people. If you hunker down until the storm has passed, are you demonstrating resilience? If you shut out the noise and stop listening, are you resilient?

Are these the reactions to change and challenge in the workplace that we really want to see?

Of course every business needs people to flex, but surely we need them to face the changes in a proactive way and not just be dogged in their persistence to cope.

Whenever we frame the need for resilience in the face of change, then we present change as happening to the organisational state but demonstrate no expectation of it happening at any human level.

I would argue that businesses don’t actually benefit from resilience as much as they think. Success isn’t achieved on just being resilient; on being able to accept and adopt to change. Success requires proactivity and foresight. It needs a different human state, one that is less defensive in its reaction and more predictive in its actions.

So maybe prescience is what businesses really should be striving for. Surely it is the anticipation of change, having a conscious ‘heads up’ approach, that is desirable. When individuals see change as a natural cycle and scan for opportunities that is progress. Imagine a working environment and culture that championed prescience and sought out those individuals who act and do rather than react and cope.

If you need individuals and teams to demonstrate prescience, we can definitely help. Get future ready. Call us: 01437 721879

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