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Take charge of change – build resilience

The Management Centre

At =mc ( we’re working increasingly on change issues – helping leadership groups to drive change and helping staff to cope with it. This blog is designed to offer some thoughts on how anyone – from frontliners to CEOs – can become resilient and work with, rather than against, the inevitable process of change. This idea of resilience is now a key concept in management development. It’s builds on the fundamental belief that change is now a permanent feature of the organisational landscape.

I’m reminded whenever I think of this topic of Darwin’s famous idea – often misquoted:

“It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent, but the one the most responsive to change.”

Charles Darwin: The Origin of Species

Darwin was not so keen on the strongest – otherwise why would the dinosaurs go? He was clear the answer was adaptation and responsiveness. What’s true in nature is true in the life of charities and NGOs.

So how do we personally become more responsive? Mostly it’s a matter of adapting and managing the way we think and act. Here are my top five actions to help you develop personal resilience and help to apply it to management coaching

1. Play long term As a change process plays out you are likely to be upset or knocked back by relatively minor concerns or setbacks. You need to not get hung up on these. Focus instead on the longer term – 3 years or more – and assess whether what’s happening is still moving on the right direction.

2.Think positively Approach change in an optimistic frame of mind. I’m not talking about mindlessly adopting some naïve Panglossian chant. But if you focus on what you want you’re more likely to get it. And if you become obsessed with what you might go wrong you will lose heart and may cause others to do so.

3. Keep moving Staying still is passive. The key is to take positive conscious action whenever possible. Avoid paralysis by analysis at all costs. Note that there is never a perfect time to take action. So take action, review, then keep going or pivot to take new action. This relentless search for success will pay off.

4. Don’t cling Accept that change is going to happen – with or without you. By identifying those things that are outside your control you can identify what your room for manoeuver is. But be prepared to mourn- a fixed period when you allow some reflection on loss. Look for learning. But then move on. Don’t cling on.

5 Seek support In a change situation it’s really easy to feel very alone. (Think how it feels in an A and E Dept. – when everybody’s probably scared.) Don’t be afraid to ask for help in a practical and emotional sense. This isn’t weakness – just giving others a chance to feel good. And we are more resilient together.

Bernard Ross

The Management Centre

To find out more about how =mc acts as learning and development consultants go to the website –

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