Big change in organisations is almost inevitable – and ongoing. In our work with hundreds of leaders and teams, we have noticed some patterns around people’s resilience and indeed three major phases that people and teams go through, which we share here for the first time.
The outer ring – Independence
When people are living in the outer ring, they are coping. Fiercely independent and self-affirming, they often survive by exploiting others and seeking to control both knowledge and work situations. Whilst more evolved than two earlier states/outer circles of resilience not shown in our diagram – Dependence (on others, or substances) and Chaos (real day-by-day survival, not relevant to most people in organisations) – when you are in this third circle you are a long way from being truly resilient. And yet it is very common, particularly in large organisations.
People mistake independence as one of the main goals of life in a free-market world. But its casualties are broken relationships, high levels of stress, and a tendency to react on automatic to each new event. It also severely restricts our ability to achieve anything beyond the most mundane forms of ‘success’. This is not the territory for making big change happen – except with huge amounts of stress and large numbers of casualties.
The middle ring – Inter-dependence
Life is always offering us experiences that trigger us to go deeper – in this case towards the second circle. When we do, we realise that beyond Independence comes Inter-dependence – independent individuals consciously choosing to cooperate with others, usually around a shared purpose. This is fundamentally different to the outer circle, demanding a spirit of openness to others and to self-reflection, both of which help to learn how to deal with life’s vicissitudes. Although calmer, clearer and with better habits, this state is also characterised by aspects of the outer circle behaviours clinging on.
The inner ring – Oneness
This rare state of resilience is not a blissful nirvana but one where people choose to go towards life’s challenges, embracing a paradoxical combination of ‘sweat and serenity’. Typically, a strong personal commitment to a big inspiring shared purpose beyond self encourages another evolution in our mindset to one of consciously evolving, loving learning, supporting and challenging others around you to be their best selves. People in this One mindset develop a conscious resilience strategy informed by ideas such as voluntary simplicity, ‘calm in the storm’ and the interconnectedness of everything.