I recently had the opportunity to speak about the transformative impact of Values Based Leadership at the 2020 Tugboat Institute Summit. For the first time since the summit has taken place, the annual gathering of CEOs transitioned to a virtual experience. Over the course of two days, business leaders from around the country shared stories of innovation in the face of adversity, a commitment to be of service – to their employees, their customers, their suppliers, and their communities, and the importance of leadership. Folks were left inspired by the grace and grit that characterized the group – and it’s that grace and grit that exemplify resilience.

Resiliency is quickly becoming another one of the many business buzzwords, but there is a reason for that. Many organizations, especially those who have not been around for decades, are struggling with upstream thinking and building resiliency for the future in this VUCA world. In some ways, building resiliency is even more critical than long-term planning, because as we all know the best-laid plans can be turned upside down — especially when navigating the inevitable obstacles that require organizational change.

Organizational resiliency is much like personal resiliency. It’s about being forward-facing – anticipating, preparing for, responding and adapting to change. It’s about not just surviving but thriving. Resilience allows a business to take measured risks with confidence. So, how do you build resiliency into an organization? Like almost everything, it starts with leadership. Resilient organizations have strong leadership at all levels who are optimistic and infuse their organizations with a sense of hope and a belief that tomorrow will be better than today.

Secondly, they have a foundation of meaningful core values that all employees believe deeply in supported by aligned behaviors and processes. The culture is imbued with a sense that we’re all in this together that’s reinforced by supportive relationships built on trust and accountability. They break down silos and anything else that gets in the way of moving forward together. Resilient organizations invest in leadership development so that leaders are empowered to make decisions and execute.

Finally, it’s about building the organization’s adaptability and its ability to cope with failure and setbacks. Our ability as leaders must be to adapt in rapidly changing, complex environments. Consider the principles of innovation. If we want to innovate, we must experiment a lot, fail fast, and continue to iterate and improve. Failure is just a part of the process. Building organizational resiliency is similar. We must ask ourselves:

  • What can we learn from our failures?
  • Can we use what we’ve learned as fuel to move forward and flourish?

How are you building resiliency into your organization?


Tom Epperson

Tom Epperson

Dr. Tom Epperson is the President of InnerWill, and an instructor in Virginia Commonwealth University’s Executive MBA program. Tom is a certified business coach and has a Doctorate in Leadership from The George Washington University. Tom works with clients on cultural transformation, leadership development, executive coaching, and igniting individual and organizational potential. Previously, Tom served as the HR Director for Luck Companies, and played a significant role as one of the architects of Luck Companies’ cultural transformation.

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