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Management Resilience: Thriving in the Face of Challenges - Book Review

1 November 2022
Dr. Moria Levy
book cover

"The book 'Management Resilience: Thriving in the Face of Management Challenges,' written in 2021 by Lior Halevi, a doctoral student and former principal of the high school my son used to attend, recently came into my possession. Having been familiar with his previous book, 'Being a Teacher,' which I found summarized on a website, I eagerly dived into the pages of this new book. From my previous reading, I discovered that 'Being a Teacher,' while primarily focused on education, contained numerous ideas applicable to all of us. Similarly, 'Management Resilience' doesn't solely concentrate on school management but explores management principles in general. Naturally, the book draws many examples from the education field.

 

The book covers the following topics:

 

  1. Resilience and its importance

  2. Focus

  3. Optimism

  4. Perspective

  5. Silence

  6. Release

  7. Self-efficacy

  8. Identity

  9. A Robust Organization - Wise Organizational Communication


Reading this book has been an intriguing experience, and once again, I found its content to be relevant to individuals in various roles and aspects of life. I highly recommend it.

 

This captivating book proves its relevance to individuals in different roles and aspects of life. I highly recommend it.

 

One of the key topics explored in the book is resilience and its significance. Resilience is defined as the process of effectively adapting to situations of distress, trauma, tragedy, threat, or stress. It is important to note that stress and tension can sometimes act as positive driving factors for progress. In such cases, resilience comes into play, enabling us to cope optimally. Optimal coping does not necessarily mean eliminating vulnerability but rather the ability to navigate the situation and eventually restore a state of equilibrium. Resilience can even foster personal growth in the face of crises.


Researchers Patterson and Kehler identify four stages that individuals may experience following a crisis: deterioration, adaptation, recovery, and growth. Those who remain in a state of deterioration will suffer from a decline in functioning over time. Those in the adaptation phase merely survive without genuinely thriving. On the other hand, individuals who recover will return to their previous state, while those who grow become stronger as a result of their experiences.

 

Recognizing that resilience does not mean the absence of emotions or emotional responses is important. We are all human, and it is healthy for us to experience and express our emotions. Emotions can be classified into three levels: feelings, which are brief and intense emotional experiences lasting seconds or minutes; moods, which represent more general and prolonged emotional states; and temperament, which refers to an individual's characteristic way of consistently reacting to certain situations.


Managing our emotional resources is crucial for building resilience. It involves not suppressing emotions but instead utilizing them in a balanced manner, with a greater emphasis on positive feelings. Research suggests that maintaining a ratio of 1:3, with more positive than negative emotions, is essential in fostering resilience.

 

While real-life experiences of setbacks and crises contribute to the development of resilience, the book also outlines other tools and strategies that aid in personal resilience-building. The ability to cultivate strength is crucial as it equips us to navigate life's inevitable hardships. It encourages us to take risks, understanding that the potential rewards far outweigh the uncertainties.


Focus

The well-known Pareto principle states that 80% of the results come from 20% of the inputs. This principle holds when it comes to developing resilience. Having an excessive number of goals, projects, and tasks can undermine stability.

 

To enhance resilience, it is crucial to develop our ability to focus. This enables us to navigate stress, tension, and distress while establishing new priorities aligning with our strategic vision and appropriate task prioritization. By sharpening our focus, we can break down complex situations and gain a deeper understanding of reality. Consequently, it becomes easier to identify the right path to the future, drawing insights from the past.

 

Another vital aspect is emphasizing the positive, the good, and what works. This approach plays a pivotal role in cultivating managerial resilience. By directing our attention to the positive aspects of our work and identifying what is effective, we can nurture strength within ourselves and our teams.


Optimism

Optimism and hope are closely interconnected concepts. Both involve the belief and application that difficulties are temporary rather than permanent. However, while hope is linked to taking specific actions, optimism is satisfied with maintaining a positive outlook and trusting in achieving a favorable outcome without a straightforward course of action.

 

Developing our optimism muscle helps us approach stressful situations and recognize the potential for personal growth within them. According to research, Optimism influences our perception of reality and impacts our ability to shape reality and attain desired outcomes.

 

Optimism instills a sense of control over the situation. Even if we may not know the exact path forward, there is a way to improve the situation and make it better.

 

Positive psychology offers a means to strengthen our optimism muscle. Studies suggest that practicing optimism can reinforce the brain connections responsible for positive thinking. One tool for cultivating optimism is consciously choosing the language and terminology we use.

 

However, Halevi cautions against excessive optimism, which can lead to complacency, a lack of critical thinking, and unrealistic interpretations of reality. The recommended approach is striving for the good while preparing for the worst, striking a balance between optimism and moderate pessimism.


Perspective

Perspective refers to the ability to detach oneself from a given situation and gain a broader understanding of the overall picture while also noticing the intricate details that compose it and identifying what is truly significant and influential. A manager with a strong perspective finds it easier to navigate crises and can even uncover opportunities for growth within them.

 

The challenge lies in the fact that, as research suggests, when we experience stress and distress, we become engulfed in a whirlwind of emotions, making it particularly difficult to maintain a proper perspective on the world and the situation at hand.

 

Several tools can aid in developing the perspective muscle:

 

  1. Practicing patience: Instead of reacting immediately, take the time to assess and respond thoughtfully.

  2. Emphasizing the importance of adequate sleep: Restful sleep can help clear mental noise and prevent impulsive responses driven by exhaustion.

  3. Utilizing thinking techniques like PMI (Positive, Minus, Interesting): This structured approach directs our thinking toward exploring the positive, negative, and intriguing aspects of a situation, allowing for a more balanced perspective.

  4. Employing the ABC model (Action, Belief, Consequent emotion): Before reacting emotionally, evaluate our beliefs, which enables us to restrain our immediate response and consider alternative perspectives. This process allows for personal growth, renewed views, and adaptive responses.

 

By actively engaging in these practices, we can enhance our ability to maintain a healthy perspective, even during challenging times.


Silence

The capacity to embrace silence contributes to the development of our resilience. However, it is essential to recognize that remaining silent is not always the appropriate course of action. This tool should be employed judiciously to avoid unnecessary debates and arguments. By choosing silence, we can conserve our energy, actively listen, and concentrate on the aspects that will truly benefit from our contribution.

 

A manager's ability to refrain from immediately responding but instead ask questions to gain deeper insights, gather additional information, seek advice, or form an informed opinion, serves to fortify their strength. Furthermore, it communicates to others not a sign of weakness but rather a display of their inner power.

 

By harnessing the power of silence, we can cultivate our resilience and strategically utilize our words when they hold the most value.

 

Release

Our lives are not lived in isolation, and it is only natural that the reactions of our environment influence our behavior and decision-making. The ability to release is comprised of two essential components:

 

  1. Releasing in the presence of others entails making decisions and taking action without constantly seeking approval or trying to please everyone around us.

  2. Letting go within ourselves involves determining which goals, objectives, and projects to relinquish to prioritize others. It is crucial to recognize that pursuing multiple endeavors only sometimes yields optimal results. Even when all ideas are valuable, focusing on a select few while consciously letting go (yes, letting go) of the others can lead to a better overall outcome.

 

However, it is not about giving up excessively. As a manager, setting high expectations for oneself and striving for continuous improvement is natural. Yet, the path of shouldering everything, refusing to give up, and neglecting the assistance of others can drain our energy and undermine our resilience. Releasing allows for targeted efforts (as discussed below) and significantly contributes to building strength.

 

Moreover, the art of release also involves the ability to withstand criticism from our environment, which may include dissenting voices regarding our priorities. Standing firm in the face of such criticism further strengthens our resilience.

 

By embracing the power of release, we strike a balance between personal aspirations and collaboration, enabling us to navigate challenges and maintain our resilience.


Self-Efficacy

Self-efficacy refers to our belief in our capabilities to handle tasks and challenges effectively. A manager with a strong sense of self-efficacy holds the confidence that they can successfully tackle even the most complex tasks.

 

Having a high sense of ability that remains grounded in reality leads to increased success (known as the "Pegmillion effect"). Numerous studies demonstrate the close relationship between self-efficacy (alongside emotional intelligence) and an individual's resilience across various aspects, including:

  1. Goal setting, including taking on challenges

  2. Dealing with crises

  3. Flexibility

  4. Managing relationships and providing support to others

  5. Reflecting and engaging in self-criticism

  6. Troubleshooting

  7. Planning ability

  8. Consistency

  9. Initiative

  10. Optimism

 

To strengthen the muscle of self-efficacy, there are several tools at our disposal:

 

  1. Successful experiences in completing tasks

  2. Observing the achievements and successes of others

  3. Engaging in positive self-talk and verbal persuasion

 

Utilizing these tools can enhance our sense of ability, develop greater self-efficacy, and bolster our resilience in the face of challenges.


Identity

The manager's identity has significant implications for their strength and resilience. Part of the manager's role involves introspection and exploring fundamental questions about their identity about their goals:

  1. Assessing the worthiness of goals and understanding their underlying motivations.

  2. Identifying values that may conflict with the pursuit of goals.

  3. Recognizing the trade-offs made in favor of goals.

  4. Establishing boundaries and limits in pursuing goals.

 

Important considerations:

 

  1. Identity is a dynamic and evolving aspect of oneself.

  2. By clarifying these identity-related issues, managers can engage in a renewed examination, potentially letting go of certain aspects or demonstrating an increased determination to achieve them.

  3. Gaining clarity on these matters and understanding the foundations upon which the manager's identity is built contribute to a deeper understanding of their personality, strengths, and, ultimately, resilience.

 

At a more specific level, the manager's managerial identity becomes more pronounced when making value-based decisions. In such decision-making processes, asking the following questions can be helpful:

 

  1. Which choice aligns with the decision maker's sense of personal fulfillment?

  2. How will they feel about the short and long-term decision?

  3. What is the responsible course of action?

 

Identity itself is often examined, particularly in stressful situations when managers face organizational or value conflicts. Resilience plays a crucial role in navigating such cases, as it is intricately intertwined with and influences one's identity while also being affected by it.

 

In conclusion, resilience is intricately linked to one's professional, managerial, and personal identity. It encompasses the ability to embrace, nurture, and grow alongside these aspects of oneself.

 

A robust organization is built upon wise interpersonal communication, which fosters a stable environment where crises may arise but is limited in number and severity. This form of intelligent organizational communication is established through the behavior and actions of managers, who serve as architects of the organization. It operates across various layers and contexts, including:

 

  1. The Manager's Role-

    The manager's perception of their role within the organization significantly influences the overall communication dynamics. Halevi advocates for a servant leadership model in which the manager is not the center but rather a servant to the organization.

  2. Relationships-

    Organizational relationships are established through managerial, professional, and personal conduct, forming the foundation of effective communication practices.

 

By embodying wise interpersonal communication, managers can create an environment where open dialogue, trust, and collaboration flourish. This, in turn, contributes to the organization's resilience and ability to navigate challenges and crises effectively.

 

The foundation of organizational resilience lies in the manager's relationships with individuals within the organization. These relationships encompass moments of relaxation, where attention is given to personal details and significant events such as celebrations, mourning, and addressing difficulties and illnesses. Cultivating healthy individual relationships forms the basis for overall organizational resilience.

 

In addition to personal relationships, several key aspects contribute to wise organizational communication:

 

  1. Clarity -Managers must communicate clearly and concisely, articulating their expectations directly rather than assuming others will decipher them. When there is a gap between expectations and actions, a wise manager addresses conflicts, managing them functionally while maintaining control over the discourse to prevent escalation.

  2. Empathy -Creating a work environment centered on organizational communication entails promoting dialogue and empathy. Empathy involves not only emotional responsiveness but also effective communication that acknowledges and validates the feelings of others. Managers must consider how they support their employees, providing authoritative and assertive responses while demonstrating empathy.

  3. Meaning -A stable organization thrives on a sense of purpose that extends beyond daily tasks. Employees should feel they are partners in pursuing a greater goal, engaging in conversations about the "why" of their work, and contributing to the organization's path toward achieving meaningful objectives.

  4. Partnership -Partnership completes the sense of meaning within the organization and involves several elements:


  • Understanding the strengths and weaknesses of each team member, including the manager, and leveraging diverse strengths to create a successful collaborative team, with the manager serving as a synchronizer.

  • Involving the organization in decision-making processes whenever feasible and appropriate, balancing this value and the organization's complementary needs, such as efficiency.

  • Encouraging team involvement and initiative while providing additional tools and resources to enable employees to realize their potential.

 

By prioritizing personal relationships, fostering clarity, empathy, meaning, and partnership, managers can enhance organizational communication and build a resilient and thriving organization.

Managers who see themselves as public servants prioritize personal relationships with employees, communicate clear expectations, demonstrate empathy, foster shared meaning, and encourage teamwork, setting the stage for a resilient organization capable of navigating any crisis and achieving ongoing growth. With each challenge, such a manager will guide the organization to new heights.

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