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Strengthening Change Agility: The Role of Resilience in Transformation

Organizations that incorporate change agility as a competency in their transformation programs or leadership development have a competitive advantage in the marketplace. The more your people know how they react to change, the faster they can adapt to change, the quicker you can get to market, execute strategies, and realize the return on investment of critical business strategies and initiatives.

Change agility implies learning. A heightened level of performance based on learning from some personal or professional disruptive change. This is where change agility can intersect with the capacity to strengthen one’s resilience.

We typically view resilience through the lens of bouncing back or adapting. That adaptation can, at least as a starting point, be an important coping mechanism.  However, experiencing a challenging disruption (personal or professional) also creates the opportunity to bounce forward. That is, how can we be more intentional about how we frame a change or disruption? How can we use these experiences to strengthen our change agility?

Building the resilience muscle

Durable, adaptive change agility is a competency that is increasingly important given the pace and complexity of changes. Agility is a strategic foundation for long-term success and is accelerated with a focus on bouncing forward, the creative or proactive application of learning to move into a fundamentally new stance or capacity.

Consider the massive disruption we’ve seen as a result of Covid-19. It has upended some (or many) of our norms, both personally and professionally. It’s a unique and unprecedented disruption. Many are simply coping as best they can, a logical and appropriate response. However, how can we move beyond basic coping and into adaptive learning? What structures can we shift (leadership habits, ways of working, processes, etc.) that can move us and our team into a new, more productive or creative space?

Unexpected setbacks and disruptions present a real opportunity to learn from the experience and, rather than simply bounce back to our original frame, bounce forward from crisis to success. Viewed through this lens these experiences, while difficult, can strengthen our resolve and further enhance our ability to deal with the inevitable future changes that we and our organizations will face.

Bouncing Forward – Learn to be Nimble

While we all face challenges and setbacks on a daily basis, there are strategies you can employ to strengthen resilience. Here’s how:

  • People who demonstrate effective resilience are those who can accurately read and act on what they can control. Those who misread the balance of control, feel like they have more control than they actually do, end up in a vicious cycle of pushing harder against an immovable force. This can feel like you’re “banging your head against a wall”. Be intentional about understanding your role in a situation and where you can exert influence or control.
  • As mentioned earlier, learning and adaptation are key factors in boosting change agility. Strengthening resilience operates within the same context and can work hand-in-hand with change agility. What learning can you take from a setback or significant change? Was there something about the specific context, people involved, or task that triggered an anxiety response and why? Most importantly, how can you apply that learning to bounce forward into a new stance? To a transformed capacity that results in increased personal effectiveness and more robust ability to navigate future changes?
  • Those that demonstrate resilience also have a strong network of relationships. Trusting relationships offer a lifeline of support and unconditional caring in times of distress. Ensure you take the time to nurture your professional and personal network of relationships.

Reaching greater heights than previously attained is a focus for many individuals and organizations. Having the tools, strategies and knowledge to build change agility is critical for corporate leaders and employees, business managers, and anyone else who needs to motivate themselves or their teams to identify and seize opportunities to support a sustainable future.

Mark Dillard is a director, Avaap Advisory Services, specializing in Organizational Change Management. He spends his time working with organizations to ensure strategies deliver intended goals and foster collaboration, connectivity, and culture. Reach out to Mark to discuss change agility and how change management can guide successful transformation.