One of the things we hear a lot about today is the need for an organisation to be both resilient and tenacious. Can you talk a little bit about what these ideas mean to you?
When I think about the difference between resiliency and tenacity, what resiliency means to me is the characteristic an organisation has that keeps its people going, keeps them optimistic, and keeps them moving forward in hard times. Tenacity is the capacity to drive through tough times; it’s that energy you need to keep on going.
You’ve had the opportunity to work with hundreds of organisations over the past 30 years. What separates those that deal successfully with adversity from those that don’t?
One of the things I’ve said for a long time is that profit is the applause you get for taking care of your customers and creating a motivating environment for your people. The companies that deal well with tough times don’t forget that. Less successful companies sometimes become single-minded about the bottom line, the figures, and the results – they think that’s all that counts. They forget that without their people taking care of the customers they wouldn’t even be there. And so the great organisations keep that really straight.
What we have found is that in tough times, great organisations focus on their people and they do three things:
One, they are bearers of hope. They keep on sending out positive messages. That doesn’t mean they turn their back on the truth of the present reality, but they are optimistic, instilling a sense that “we can get through this”.
Second, they treat their people as their business partners, because if you want people to be on your side, you have to respect them. If you respect people, listen to them, and care about them, then they trust you and do their best for you.
The third key is that leaders in these companies see themselves as “servant” leaders. What that really means is that it’s not about you as the leader. It’s recognising that you don’t own any of the resources at your disposal – it’s all on loan.
You mentioned trust. What’s the role of trust as organisations look to recover well from the economic recession?
Trust begins with respect. Are you talking with your people? Do you respect them enough to ask their opinions? To build trust, start by treating your people as your business partners, respecting them, and recognising that they have more answers than you. One of our favorite sayings in our company is “no one of us is as smart as all of us”. And when you talk about building trust, you’ve got to utilise your people; you’ve got to involve all of your people. When you respect them like that, they trust you.
What is the role of patience and persistence as it applies to tenacity and resilience?
I was fortunate enough a number of years ago to write a book with Norman Vincent Peale entitled The Power of Ethical Management: Integrity Pays! You Don’t Have to Cheat to Win. One of the things I learned from Norman that is powerful for both individuals and organisations is that you have to have a combination of patience and persistence.
What does patience mean? It means things don’t always work out exactly when you want them to. Sometimes God has a different plan than we do. And you have to be patient and know that if you are doing what you are supposed to be doing, eventually it will work out.
But when you start to lose your patience, what do you need? You need persistence. You need to drive forward. But patience and persistence have to go together.
What happens if an organisation isn’t prepared to be tenacious or resilient?
When an organisation is not tenacious or resilient, its people start to become disengaged. They disengage because they don’t believe their future is going to be bigger and better than their past. They also start to lose their belief in their ability to make a difference.
That’s why it is so important for leaders to be bearers of hope, to involve their people as business partners, and to be a servant leaders who realise that it’s not about them. If that message gets through, people become tenacious, resilient, and willing to hang in there with you so you can get through tough times together.
Alternatively, what benefits can an organisation can expect if they build tenacity into their culture?
One of the great advantages is that when trials come along – which they will, because whoever heard of everything going great all the time? – people will be joyful even when it’s challenging. Why? Because they will think “this is a good challenge and we are up to it”.
People with resiliency and tenacity look at tough times as an opportunity to be at their best. It’s a toughness of spirit. And that toughness doesn’t mean “let’s get rid of a whole bunch of people”. It’s a toughness that says “we can do this together”. When that type of spirit comes out loud and clear, people say, “Bring it on – this might be tough but we are going to make it through”.
For more information on The Ken Blanchard Companies, please contact their Asia office at 65-6775 1030 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org
To build trust start by treating your people as your business partners
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