Keep Leading!® Podcast Episode 048: Increasing Organizational Resilience

Keep Leading!® Podcast Episode 048: Increasing Organizational Resilience

Jennifer Eggers
Speaker | Best-Selling Author | Coach | Facilitator
Increasing Organizational Resilience

Episode Summary
Jennifer Eggers and I discussed her work with leadership teams and organizations facing disruption who want to increase their organization’s capacity to adapt so they can emerge stronger and more effective faster.

Check out this 60 Second preview of the episode!


 

Bio
Jennifer is the founder of LeaderShift Insights®. She works with leadership teams and organizations facing disruption who want to increase their organization’s capacity to adapt so they can emerge stronger and more effective faster. Jennifer is known for facilitating high-stakes meetings with challenging stakeholders, creating alignment and unraveling tough issues that hinder business results. She is the creator of RapidOD, a revolutionary approach to organizational restructuring and her groundbreaking adaptive leadership workshops cause clients to say, ‘she turns everything you know about corporate training upside- down.’

Jennifer has coached senior leaders and teams of numerous Fortune 500 companies and is known for helping leaders demonstrate visible leadership fast. She has been a Partner with Cambridge Leadership Group, and has held several other senior roles in Learning, Organization & Leadership Development at Bank of America, AutoZone, AlliedSignal and Coca-Cola Enterprises. Her book, Resilience: It’s Not About Bouncing Back (How leaders and organizations can build resilience before disruptions hits) is a #1 international best seller in business and self-help categories.

Website
https://leadershiftinsights.com/

LinkedIn
https://www.linkedin.com/in/eggers/

Twitter
https://twitter.com/JenniferEggers

Facebook
https://www.facebook.com/JenniferEggersSpeaker/

Get Your Copy of Jennifer’s Book!
https://leadershiftinsights.com/resilience-its-not-about-bouncing-back/

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Resilience: It's Not About Bouncing Back: How Leaders and Organizations Can Build Resilience Before Disruption Hits

Transcript

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This podcast is part of the C Suite Radio Network, turning the volume up on business.

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Welcome to the Keep Leading!® Podcast, the podcast dedicated to promoting leadership development and sharing leadership insights. Here’s your host, The Leadership Excelerator®, Eddie Turner.

Eddie Turner:
Hello, everyone! Welcome to the Keep Leading!® Podcast, the podcast dedicated to leadership development and insights. I’m your host, Eddie Turner, The Leadership Excelerator®. I work with leaders to accelerate performance and drive impact through the power of facilitation, coaching, and professional speaking.

The Power of Resilience Within Organizations. My guest today wrote the book that will help organizations everywhere increase their organizational resilience. My guest today is Jennifer Eggers, an organizational resilience expert. Jennifer is the founder of Leadership Insights. She works with leadership teams in organizations facing disruption, who wants to increase their organization’s capacity to adapt so they can emerge stronger and more effective, faster. Her book Resilience: It’s Not About Bouncing Back – How Leaders and Organizations Can Build Resilience Before Disruption Hits is a number one international bestseller in business and self-help categories. I’m excited to have with me today Jennifer Eggers.

Jennifer, welcome to the Keep Leading!® Podcast.

Jennifer Eggers:
Thank you so much, Eddie. It’s exciting to be here.
Eddie Turner:
I have to tell everybody how you and I met or should I you let you tell everybody?
Jennifer Eggers:
No, you’re on a roll.
Eddie Turner:
Well, I was at Harvard for the Adaptive Leadership Conference and I was listening to a fascinating panel. And you were one of the panelists. You and I did not know each other. We’ve never met each other. And because of a discussion that started between me and one of the participants, it ended up online because she and I discovered we’re members of the National Speakers Association. And when we posted that. You chimed in on the Facebook post. You said “Hey, that was my session.” Do you remember that?
Jennifer Eggers:
I do. I had forgotten until you said it but no, that was funny because it was interesting, I’m being invited to speak there. It was just such an honor to begin with. And then I remember you were in the front row and you were taking copious notes. And then, I think, you came up to talk to Allison Shapiro who I knew through NSA. And so, we had kind of all met on the side. And I don’t think we figured out we were all NSA members until later.
Eddie Turner:
Yes. And it was the result of a post that we discovered that. Well, we discovered you were. She and I had discovered on the side. We had taken our picture and that’s what we posted. So, that’s how we met. And then later on you and I went on to share two very special events together. I’ll let you share what those were.
Jennifer Eggers:
We did. So, Eddie and I, after that, we both were selected to Adaptive Leadership Advanced Practitioner Program that Ron Heifetz put on at Harvard, which was another incredible honor to be a part of and it was even more fun to be there with Eddie. So, we got to know each other a little better. And then subsequent to that, Eddie and I both got our Certified Speaking Professional which is actually a pretty difficult kind of ordeal to go through with the National Speakers Association and we earned our Certified Speaking Professionals, that designation, in the class of 2019 with the National Speakers Association last year. And it was exciting to be able to do it with Eddie. It was fun.
Eddie Turner:
It really was. It really was. And so, we went from not knowing each other to really having shared some really special times. Now, this interview, I think we can add this to the list of special times.
Jennifer Eggers:
Absolutely. I think the most fun part about this has just been being able to be there for each other and support each other in some really exciting things in our careers.
Eddie Turner:
Yes. And you and I also do a lot of the similar work in terms of leading workshops, facilitating board retreats and things for executives. And so, you have a lot of experience in this realm and especially your time working as an executive. So, based on your experience, I would love for you to share with our listeners what you see as the number one skill for leaders today and why it is so important.
Jennifer Eggers:
Sure. There’s not a doubt in my mind. I believe very strongly that the number one skill for leaders today is resilience. And I feel so strongly about it that I wrote a book about how to build it but the reason I say this, I mean, actually kind of goes back to a silly incident that I had early in my career. I was in a situation where I kind of got sideways with my boss. And he had done some things that I didn’t agree with and said some things that I didn’t agree with even more. And I came back to work the next day and kind of a week went by and I was really struggling with it and I just couldn’t get past it and we had to work together. And, finally, he called me in and he said “Jennifer, if you can’t figure out a way to bounce back faster and be more resilient,” he said “you’re not going to make it in leadership.” And it was a complete slap in the face and I was really upset about it but it made me really think. And what I realized is that the people who make it as leaders, we get knocked around. I mean, leadership is a combat sport. I mean, it is not for the faint of heart. And if you’re going to put yourself out there as a leader in the midst of rapid disruptive change in the environment that that the business world is in today, then it’s not a matter of if you’re going to get beat up and if you’re going to have tough times. It’s a matter of when.
Eddie Turner:
So, are you saying that it’s not all the glory that we anticipate of gaining a corner office and having a company car and all the other things we may imagine?
Jennifer Eggers:
Not even a little bit. And it’s interesting. Ron Heifetz has a great book Leadership on the Line which is all about how leaders get assassinated when you take a stand for something that’s difficult and that’s exactly what happens. And so, it’s really critical because those stands that we take are becoming more and more frequent and more and more critical as leaders today that this notion of resilience and really being able to bounce back not just faster but more effective faster and more energized and elevated for having been through these challenges is incredibly important for leaders today. And I do believe that it is the most important thing that we can ask a leader to build is resilience. And you can build it. That was maybe another thing when I set out to figure out “Well, what is this notion of resilience?” One of the things I had to ask myself is “Can it be built?” And I did a lot of research. And at the time, there wasn’t a lot of research out there. And I read just about everything that had ever been written about resilience. And what I learned is that resilience has very, very strong ties and is very tightly coupled with emotional intelligence. And so, a lot of the content that we were using in our emotional intelligence workshop actually transitioned into our resilience workshop because it’s very, very similar. Resilience adds to it a bit.
Eddie Turner:
Tell me more about that, if you will, because I do a lot of work in that area and I would be interested more in the connections you found.
Jennifer Eggers:
Yeah, there’s a lot of connections. I mean, the topics include your comfort zone, knowing your purpose, your definition of success, being authentic, being self-aware, knowing your core beliefs. All of those things, I think, fit somewhere into those sorts of five pillars of emotional intelligence. And they’re found somewhere in our resilience framework. And so, resilience adds a bit to it and ties it together maybe a little differently but if you really want to build resilience, it becomes a lot about knowing yourself and a lot about it is being intentional about when you go into a situation, how do you want to come out of it and how do you want to occur, which has a lot to do with emotional intelligence. So, what was fascinating was that when we built the resilience workshop, what I found was that, I would say, about 80% of our emotional intelligence content rolled into the resilience workshop somewhere. Now, maybe not in the same way but what we struggled with with emotional intelligence is that if you send someone to emotional intelligence workshop, it’s like you’re saying “Well, you’re not emotionally intelligent. So, we have to send you to a workshop to become more intelligent.” It doesn’t really work that way but that’s how it feels to people. So, when we put this sort of ribbon of resilience around it, what we ended up doing is saying, and here’s another kind of interesting thought, what we ended up figuring out is that the way you build resilient organizations is identical to the way you build resilience as an individual. So, if I can teach you to be more self-aware, be more intentional, be more emotionally intelligent and build resilience individually, you can take that exact same framework and use it with your organization. And so, for example, our resilience framework that’s in the book talks about how resilience is a function of your mindset and the choices you make. And then underlying that are your core beliefs. Well, individually, my core beliefs might be my faith. It might be what do I believe about where the flowers grow or what happens when our life is over and that kind of thing. In an organization, your core beliefs may be the values on which the company was founded. It may be a mission. It may be a purpose. The core beliefs are maybe we use different language but the exact same topic and the same rules apply. So, if you’ve done the work individually, building resilience as an organization becomes a whole lot easier.
Eddie Turner:
Very interesting. So, the connection between emotional intelligence and resilience is that if we build high EQ individuals, then it boils over into the organization. And as you have a stronger individual, you have driven organizations of people and organizations that are self-aware.
Jennifer Eggers:
Yeah, absolutely. And I would say when we think about things like mindset, mindset has a lot to do. So, we divide mindset into attitude and authenticity. So, I think your attitude and how you choose your attitude in any given situation has a lot to do with your emotional intelligence. Now, if you’re not emotionally that intelligent, you can still use the framework as a checklist and we have some tools in the book. It’s really designed to be very tool based, very sort of worksheet based as well, and can walk through and say “Okay, I’m going into this situation that might be difficult. What should I be asking myself? What should I be thinking about?” I mean, you don’t have to know that off the top of your head but this notion of “How do I intentionally choose the attitude that I’m going in with or the mindset that I’m going in with, how do I know when I’m being authentic?,” I can do that as an individual or I can sit down with my team and say “Hey, we’re about to deal with a competitor that’s coming into our market. What do we want to do about this? How are we going to stay true to ourselves? How do we know when we’re taking the right actions, we’re making the right decisions?” So, the resilience framework really becomes for an organization a bit of a decision guide.
Eddie Turner:
Well, you said something that’s very important there. You have to choose your attitude. And so many times, rather than choosing the attitude, many people, many leaders may find themselves allowing themselves to be the victim of an attitude.
Jennifer Eggers:
That’s absolutely true. I mean, that has a lot to do with the core beliefs and what we call your filters through which you view the world, which you probably would also find in an emotional intelligence program as well but this notion of really being intentional about the filters that we choose and how we choose to view various situations. And I might have a filter that, let’s say, I had a domineering father, that might change the way I think about men in the world. For example, I have a client that is a portfolio company. That filter of being a portfolio company today is keeping them from creating shared services that would really help them with efficiency but they view all of their work through this lens of “We’re going to be a portfolio company.” So, that’s an intentional choice. You have to decide is that the right filter to choose given where you are today and it may be or may not be but this notion of choice is a really big one, I think, as it relates to resilience.
Eddie Turner:
Okay, very interesting. Well, thank you.

We’re talking with Jennifer Eggers, an organizational resilience expert, and she is sharing with us how we can increase organizational resiliency. We’ll have more to discuss with Jennifer right after a word from our sponsors.

This podcast is sponsored by Eddie Turner LLC. Organizations who need to accelerate the development of their leaders call Eddie Turner, The Leadership Excelerator®. Eddie works with leaders to accelerate performance and drive impact. Call Eddie Turner to help your leaders one on one as their coach or to inspire them as a group through the power of facilitation or a keynote address. Visit EddieTurnerLLC.com to learn more.

Hi! This is Dr. Steven Stein, psychologist and founder of MHS Assessments, and you’re listening to the Keep Leading!® Podcast with Eddie Turner.

Eddie Turner:
All right, we’re back with Jennifer Eggers. Jennifer is an organizational resilience expert and she is talking to us about increasing organizational resilience and her new book Resilience: It’s Not About Bouncing Back – How Leaders and Their Organizations Can Build Resilience Before Disruption Hits.

So, Jennifer, you were sharing some things with us before we took a break. Can you tell us now as we transition what are the biggest derailers of resilience in organizations?

Jennifer Eggers:
And I think that’s a great question. As I look at what derails resilience in organizations, it has a lot to do with anywhere that we have one of two things, so either power struggles or lack of inclusion. When people don’t feel included and they don’t feel like they can be safe and bring their best selves to work, it’s really difficult to build resilience. So, there’s a chapter in the book, for example, where we talk quite a bit about derailers and resilience. One of them is this #MeToo movement. And not that the #MeToo movement is derailing it but that the #MeToo movement is a response to something that was derailing resilience. And, to me, it’s not so much whether it’s because you’re LGBTQ or what race you are or whatever it is but whatever it is an organization that causes people to feel like they’re not safe giving 110% and bring their best self, what it does is it takes the focus away from the real issue that’s happening in the office or happening that they need to deal with. So, anything that distracts the focus off the real issue, which might be dealing with a disruption, it might be trying to deliver results, whatever it is, is going to derail resilience.

So, in the book, we even talk about food. And this is a strange one that the I got a lot of pushback, frankly, when we put that in the book but food is a way that people bond over meals. They bond over the break room, corporate lunches, that kind of thing. When someone has food issues and they don’t feel safe eating with others, maybe they have a wheat allergy or they’re lactose intolerant or whatever it is, if they don’t feel like they’re able to be 100% who they are in the workplace, it’s very, very hard to get 110% out of those people. So, when we’re asking and we’re expecting them to give more but they don’t feel safe, it derails resilience. So, any of those types of situations will take away from resilience.

Eddie Turner:
So, what if a person does not feel safe even eating with people?
Jennifer Eggers:
Yeah, I don’t know how you could expect to build a resilient organization if people don’t feel safe working together. And safe can take a lot of forms, right? So, if it’s a person who is celiac and they can’t find a safe meal in the company cafeteria and people want to have a working lunch, so what’s that person thinking about during that lunch? They’re not thinking about whatever you want to talk about. They’re thinking about the fact that they can’t eat and they’re hungry. So, as my editor was like “This is a little silly.” It’s not really silly when it’s you.
Eddie Turner:
Right, right.
Jennifer Eggers:
When you’re in a situation where you can’t feel safe and you really can’t be yourself, it’s almost impossible to be resilient but I want to really hit hard the reason and the reason is that when we need to ask people to be resilient, we are asking them to give more of themselves than they might otherwise give. We’re asking them to think more intentionally, be more proactive, give more discretionary effort, that kind of thing but when a lot of that capacity is taken up by a focus on something that has nothing to do with what we’re asking of them, they don’t have as much discretionary capacity in the tank. And so, I like to think of your adaptive capacity or your resilience as a tank that you fill up. So, you fill it up by getting to know people, making people feel safe, helping people understand more about the organization, more about themselves. If you’re an individual, you’re becoming more self-aware and more intentional before you need it. And so, you build that level of fuel in the tank so that when you need the resilience, you’re able to draw on it and it’s there but if it’s not there, because it’s being sucked up by something else, then it’s really hard to be resilient.
Eddie Turner:
So, how does someone build up their resilience and have that fuel in the tank, as you said?
Jennifer Eggers:
Yeah. So, to me, it’s all about preparation before you need it. And so, the book gets into pretty detailed framework that we ask people to go through. And the good news is that you can learn to build it individually and then you can turn around and apply it to your whole team. And the framework is almost a checklist and we give tools for each one but resilience is a function of your mindset and the choices that you make. Your mindset is a function of your attitude and your authenticity. And the choices you make are function of the purpose in a situation and knowing your purpose and your definition of success. And then underlying all of that, sort of the bedrock that it all sits on, is knowing your core beliefs. And so, like I said, that can all be figured out ahead of time individually. And then when we think about building resilient organizations, it’s the exact same process with one addition. When we have an organization, we have more people. It’s not just one. So, there’s this need to create alignment around what that framework is. The idea is when people are aligned, then when disruption hits, they know exactly what to do, they know what actions to take. It’s almost like an insurance policy so that when something happens, there’s a plan, people jump into action and they know exactly what needs to be done, they know who’s on first, and they just execute. So, they don’t have to really spend a lot of time thinking about who we are and why are we here and how are we going to address this. They already know. So, there’s already a filter in place and a set of beliefs that unite people that they can act on when they need them.
Eddie Turner:
Good. And what I love about what you’ve done is you’ve actually taken the work of Dr. Heifetz, infused that with your resiliency content so much so that I thought it was pretty cool while we were there. What did you do with your manuscript before it went live?
Jennifer Eggers:
Oh, gosh! Well, I brought it to Dr. Heifetz when I went to the program and I asked him to take a look at it and I was scared to death. And what’s funny is it’s changed quite a bit since he’s seen it. So, I think it’s a lot better but I just love the fact that he held the manuscript up to the program and said, I believe his quote was, “This is a book of wonderful wisdom and everyone should read it.” And that was kind of a life-changing moment for me. And then the funny part is that I think we’ve improved the book, a lot of people that work with him have certainly read it before it was released, and we got a lot of edits. In fact, he gave me quite a few edits, things that he wanted me to think about a little bit differently that were incredibly helpful. So, it was great to have his input as well because this notion of building adaptive capacity has everything to do with resilience. And that was a piece that I didn’t want to say without kind of running it by him since he was the sort of the father of the adaptive leadership concept. So, it was really neat when Harvard invited me to speak at the Adaptive Leadership Network that year that you and I met. I mean, I think the best thing for me was I kept saying “No, you’re not crazy but it’s true.”
Eddie Turner:
Yeah, I thought that was just the coolest thing. I was so impressed and I was like “I can’t really believe that.” I mean, you brought it to the man himself. One of the tremendous opportunities an author has is when we publish our work, it’s got to be submitted to and subjected to public scrutiny. Now, public scrutiny is different than scrutiny from our peers, colleagues and, in this case, a true scholar. So, kudos to you, my friend, for being gutsy enough to do that and getting his stamp of approval.
Jennifer Eggers:
Well, thank you. I appreciate that. It was something I really thought to do. I mean, Al Kraebel had a lot to do with it. He’s another scholar of Adaptive Leadership that had a lot to do with what went in the final version. And then Frances Karamouzis, the Chief of Research for Gartner. So, getting her opinion was equally as humbling an experience.
Eddie Turner:
Fantastic. So, Jennifer, how would you summarize our conversation today?
Jennifer Eggers:
For me, I think, I would summarize to say if people and their organizations want to build resilience, it really is about preparation. That’s the preparation before you get into the disruptive situation. And I’ll go on to say that resilience can be taught, it can be learned, and it can be built. And it’s learned by preparation in advance and, frankly, not that hard. Our framework walks you through it. We’ve got a great framework and there’s even a workshop now that goes with the book as well or goes without the book but it exists to help individuals and organizations build resilience.
Eddie Turner:
Wonderful. And where can my listeners learn more about you?
Jennifer Eggers:
Check out our website at www.LeadershiftInsights.com for a lot more information about all of our workshops, the book, and the work that we do with organizations and leaders to help improve their capacity to adapt when they’re going through disruption.
Eddie Turner:
Wonderful. I’ll put all that in the show notes so that folks can connect with you and learn more about the wonderful work that you’re doing out there.
Jennifer Eggers:
Thank you.
Eddie Turner:
One other thing I would like to ask. This is the Keep Leading!® Podcast and we want to give leaders, in addition to the fine content you’ve provided, we want to give them a quote or a story or something that you use to keep leading what’s working for you.
Jennifer Eggers:
Yeah, I think the biggest thing for me is when you’re going into a tough situation, you’re going to have to stand up. And it’s difficult to stand up if you don’t know what you’re standing on. And so, that’s been a guidepost for me and it’s something that I like to tell all the people that I work with. It’s difficult to stand up if you don’t know what you’re standing on. So, know what your core beliefs are, whether it’s you personally or your organization.
Eddie Turner:
I love that. That is fantastic. It’s difficult to stand up if you don’t know what you’re standing on. And you did make that correlation earlier to a person’s core beliefs and a corporation’s core values. Rather values, mission, and purpose, I believe, is how you explain.
Jennifer Eggers:
Yes.
Eddie Turner:
Excellent. Well, my friend, I am so excited that we were finally able to connect and really get you here to share your wisdom and insights with the Keep Leading!® Podcast audience.
Jennifer Eggers:
Thank you so much, Eddie. It’s been a pleasure being here. I really look forward to seeing the final product.
Eddie Turner:
Alrighty.

And thank you for listening. That concludes this episode, everyone. I’m Eddie Turner, The Leadership Excelerator®, reminding you that leadership is not about our title or our position. Leadership is an activity. Leadership is action. It’s not the case of once a leader, always a leader. It’s not a garment we put on and take off. We must be a leader at our core and allow it to emanate in all we do. So, whatever you’re doing, always keep leading.

Thank you for listening to your host Eddie Turner on the Keep Leading!® Podcast. Please remember to subscribe to the Keep Leading!® Podcast on iTunes or wherever you listen. For more information about Eddie Turner’s work please visit EddieTurnerLLC.com.

Thank you for listening to C Suite Radio, turning the volume up on business.

The Keep Leading!® podcast is for people passionate about leadership. It is dedicated to leadership development and insights. Join your host Eddie Turner, The Leadership Excelerator® as he speaks with accomplished leaders and people of influence across the globe as they share their journey to leadership excellence. Listen as they share leadership strategies, techniques and insights. For more information visit eddieturnerllc.com or follow Eddie Turner on Twitter and Instagram at @eddieturnerjr. Like Eddie Turner LLC on Facebook. Connect with Eddie Turner on LinkedIn.