Dr. Steven Chase, Thames Valley Police
Marion Kneale, BDO LLP
Steven opened by talking about his view of the DNA of an agile and resilient leader, cautioning that this isn’t something that can just be applied in the same way everywhere as it needs to be contextualised for the workplace. Steven highlighted some of the components of agile and resilient leadership:
Personal energy: Time is finite but we can manage our utilisation of time, managing our personal energy. We neither need, nor should, operate at our absolute peak every minute of every day. We need down-time and we need to save our peak energy moments for when it is needed.
Coaching style: We can’t use a coaching style every minute of every day, but we do have lots of opportunities. We need to be in ‘command and control’ mode sometimes, but most of our management should be expressed through a coaching style.
Discretionary behaviour: There are a lot of rules that need to be followed (especially in the police) but how do we encourage people to go the extra mile?
Steven shared a personal story of being diagnosed with cancer just before heading to the US for a holiday in New Orleans. Seeing the devastation caused by Hurricane Katrina, Steven was struck by the resilience, the ability to bounce back, that he saw in the people he met there.
Marion Kneale opened by talking about the everyday realities of resilience for people, noting that resilience is situational and contextual. Accountants (Marion works for BDO) will face different pressures from the ones that police face.
There are a few things that we need to establish to build our resilience: Knowledge & experience,
emotional intelligence, drive, optimum mental health
Marion worked for HBOS when they experienced a major crisis and she noticed lots of animal (fight, flight, freeze, or flock) responses to the crisis; Some people took flight and kept quiet whilst other leaders aimed to provide stability and hope for their team. Marion referred to a HBR article describing resilient leaders as happy warriors, suggesting that we must not wait until a crisis to start thinking about resilience. Rather, we need to create the right environment to help develop resilience.
Marion recounted the story of Sir Ernest Shackleton and started by looking at how he was great at learning from other people’s mistakes, not just his own (a mark of a good leader). On the journey to Antartica, the entire team (in their ship, Endurance) got stuck in the polar ice for many months. Trapped for months, factions and tension started to emerge in the team and Shackleton needed to take active steps to help unite the teams. Eventually, Endurance sunk and Shackleton faced another test of his resilience as he needed to find a way to progress. Shackleton quoted a poem as part of his inspiration – “For sudden the worst turns the best into the brave…” (from Robert Browning’s Prospice) – as he took action to keep everybody alive. Marion talked about how Shackleton faced really difficult choices at every stage of the journey, but kept going and consistently led from the front. All 28 men survived the journey.
Marion summarised the characteristics of a the resilient leader (as exhibited by Shackleton):
– Articulates an inspiring and compelling vision
– Makes great hiring decisions
– Has tenacity and patience
– Focuses relentlessly on morale and engagement
– Creates and inspires followership
– Reinforces the importance of one team
– Thinks ahead and prepares for change
– Leads by example
– Is willing to take risks and make tough decisions
– Has relentless optimism and self-belief
Live-blogged from a session at CIPD L&D Show – 30th April 2014