Sustainable, Mindful and Resilient Leadership – A Cambridge Judge Business School interview

By March 11, 2019Uncategorized

Having returned from my annual work with the Executive MBAs at ‘Judge Cambridge Business School’,  I reflected on some insights I have had from working with the EMBAs these past years.

In 2017 the fantastic cohort raised questions such as ‘should we as Leaders create working environments that require people to be more resilient’? It is a valid Leadership question and one that industry will struggle to fully respond to. Our mental health as well as our physical health can feel under attack from modern existence.  I interviewed a Executive on this topic and this is our conversation:

What are your personal challenges for next year?

‘I’m looking at effective prioritising and smarter working to make sure my team is all pulling in the same direction. Because I enjoy what I do I tend to see opportunities and goals rather than challenges.  I need to make sure that work doesn’t take over – maybe my challenge is to ensure I maintain a balance’.

Have you found that Directors recognise the impact of work-related stress and wellbeing for their organisations?

‘It should be a no–brainer that reducing absenteeism reduces the bottom line overheads, but some organisations struggle with the concept. There can be too great a focus on the immediate needs instead of looking to the future.  Spending now on building organisational and personal Resilience now could see a bottom line saving by reducing absenteeism, having more energised employees and greater employee engagement.  In the emerging markets there is less awareness that this is something to be addressed’.

Do you think there is a growing awareness of the importance of Resilience and finding new ways to improve performance?

Organisations have the ability to be resilient, but it needs HR to be forward thinking to drive a Resilience program through an organisation.  A significant number of programs are driven by external factors, such as regulators asking for a clear demonstration that employees are performing at a level that meets client needs whilst acting with fitness and propriety.  But organisations need to be proactive around their workforce and embrace Resilience to improve their organisational performance.

Your career is an example of how high achievers can progress in their career in a more sustainable way – what advice do you give new starters on building their Resilience?

‘You must find something that you enjoy doing.  You need to be engaged with what you do, so if it’s not working, look at your goals and address what is important to you. Life is too short, and you will wear down your Resilience if the role you do is not the right one’.

What would you say to executives who say: “I’m resilient enough, coaching isn’t for me?”

‘Everyone needs coaching at all levels, so I’d ask him or her “Who do you talk to? Who is your confidante?” You must have one person you can talk to freely and frankly about what’s bothering or troubling you. You can build up your coping strategies over time, but does that make you resilient’?

What are the challenges that are critical for individuals in professional services to overcome?

‘Determining how you can be resilient. Asking yourself why you do what you do – does it align with the business and what the organisation is seeking to do?  If the answer is “no” then look at the detail to identify the gap.’

At Davos some years ago, Christine Lagarde spoke about “resilient dynamism” and “Leading through Adversity” to boost the Resilience of financial organisations and improve decision-making and strengthen personal Resilience.  What do you think the leaders of London’s financial and professional services organisations must do to ensure that they build Resilience in their key decision makers and lead their companies through adversity?

‘Without any doubt it must be clear accountability.  One reason that the media and politicians have attacked financial services is that there is a lack of clarity about accountability. Leaders need to build Resilience by allowing their key decision makers the room to grow and develop but with clear guidance and structure.’

Resilience is not set in stone it will ebb and flow throughout life, yet the point of action often only happens when the issue has become serious or costly.  It’s simple – without Resilience you will not survive the challenges of the current economy or Leadership career path.  Yet I still hear leader’s saying, “I don’t get affected by stress” or “I don’t need to coach my team, they’re already the best”.  But isn’t that the best time to reflect with your team – while they are delivering great results – capturing what is making them most resilient and excel in their performance?  How much more they could deliver with the right Resilience strategies in place.

“Today we live in the most complex interdependent era in human history. We are increasingly being confronted by major challenges and transformational opportunities. The new leadership context requires successful organisations to master strategic agility and build risk resilience’

I am grateful to have the opportunity to work with a fantastic and inspiring group each year at Cambridge. Each cohort are truly engaging with this important topic and asking themselves the right questions about Resilience both personally and professionally – debating Resilience within the context of sustainable Leadership for themselves and their organisations – well done!

If you would like to know more about organisational Resilience audits of Mindful Resilience Coaching for Leaders please contact me on 07872517109


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