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Resilience – A 21st century must-have - Henley Business School Finland

Resilience – A 21st century must-have

In this blog post, research associate Ole Petter Anfinsen, who is working on our resilience study with Heads Together and Row, considers the untold story about the drivers of success and synergists of resilience.

Today’s business environment demands not only leaders, but leading ‘athletes’, due to the rapidly changing environment, high pace and increasing pressure.

Resilience – A ‘must-have’ in the 21st century

Our team members will be fighting the powers of the sea as executives handle the pressure in the corporate world, and it is crucial to be able to bounce back after setbacks and handle the curveballs. Therefore, it is important to handle the pressure without letting it take over and turn into emotional stress. Resilience is a ‘must have’ skill in the 21st century (Rao, 2017) and people need to embrace and develop resilience and let go of stress. Four suggested steps to develop these capabilities include stress management and resilience in personality traits (Petrie, 2017).

  • Wake up – be present and do not drift away
  • Control your attention and focus
  • Detach from negative emotions and maintain perspective
  • Let go of all the maybes (Petrie, 2017)

Resilience is needed by all as it helps to deal with adversity, which is especially crucial in the corporate world as the business environment is continuously evolving and one has to overcome challenges in changing economies and political uncertainty (King, et al., 2016). But it is suggested to be easier than most people think to build resilience, and it is proposed to ask yourself two simple questions in order to support this development:

  • “Is there any possible scenario by which this could actually turn out to be a good thing someday?”
  • “What can I — and my team — do to make this scenario come about? How can we turn this event into a good thing that we can all celebrate someday in the future?” (Rao, 2017).

Concentration is the secret to effectiveness

Self-management is a part of all this, our personal development and building resilience, and it is about ‘self-assessment, goal setting, time management, and self-regulation’ (Gerhardt, 2007), which is something that can be taught through sufficient training and something our team members are continuously working on when preparing for the challenge, supporting resilience for what is to come. Research managers do agree on the fundamentals of self-management: ‘time management, interpersonal communication, organisational skills, basic problem solving’ (Tulgan, 2017), and concentration are the secret to effectiveness (Hougaard & Carter, 2017).

Do not eat the dessert before dinner

Lastly, the third piece of the puzzle – self-discipline. This is about managing yourself, your emotions and the way of manoeuvring your behaviour to achieve desired goals (Duckworth Lee, 2009). But how can we improve this?

  • Having the right focus is utterly important in reaching goals and to start, the priority is to stay clear of distractions
  • Focus on the end goal, not the obstacle, otherwise a collision is almost inevitable
  • Stick to your schedules and practise your own discipline
  • Do not get lead onto side tracks (Executive Leadership, 2013)

As human beings we are always faced with choices and for our team members this could be; ‘Should we go South or South East?’, ‘With or against the current?’, ‘Rest or continue?’, which often is a continuous struggle, and both athletes and executives are facing difficult choices every day that will affect more than just themselves. What then? The secret seems to be self-discipline and being able to do what is needed, and what one should be doing, even when not feeling like doing it (Vaden, 2012). The important thing is to cultivate strong self-discipline in order to increase the chances of becoming successful and securing the win. ‘Do not eat the dessert before dinner’. By doing the chores first, and then the fun things, will help to develop self-discipline.

The crossover

So, what now? Well, we are all human and as humans we have personality traits, and resilience, self-management, self-discipline are a part of this. Between these paradigms, where and if they cross over – we find the ‘golden key’, which seems to be what is needed to thrive in this increasingly pressured society. This is when there is a balance between soft-skills e.g. self-assessment, goal setting, time management, self-regulation and the emotions controlling these skills, in combination with the ability to overcome adversity, so that one can manoeuvre one’s behaviour to reach desired goals.

We are in it to win it – let’s put our heads together and row!

Jennika Rantanen - Henley Business School Finland

Jennika Rantanen

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