Resilience, a vital ingredient of leadership

There are a number of attributes that leaders require in their portfolios to steer their teams. Resilience is one such characteristic that is most often under-rated nonetheless is significant to the functioning of leaders. In today’s dynamic work environment, resilience is an attribute that has become increasingly necessary.
As business leaders uncertainty and setbacks arise through various aspects like economic fluctuations, political turmoil, natural calamities, competition, change in stakeholder expectations, and so on. Such uncertainties require leaders who can manage change.
During times of change, necessary actions ought to be taken to handle the change. Flexibility and adaptability go hand in hand with resilience and they enable to manage change effectively. Most often the simple aspect of flexibility like listening to diverse views of team members in a critical situation could be neglected. There also needs to be an openness to accommodate situational leaders who could add tremendous value to the outcome.
A key element distinguishing resilient leaders is identifying the need to ‘bounce back’ from difficult situations. In order, to bounce back a number of key behaviours need to be adopted. One key aspect is to manage one’s emotions amidst disappointments and failure. Emotions are often reflected through one’s behavior in a crunch situation. This is where a leader needs to differentiate himself or herself by demonstrating inspiration and direction for the team. The Indian Cricket Captain Dhoni is often admired for his ability to remain calm and encourage team members during nail-biting finishes. The battle here is won at the emotional level.
A Resilient leader also does not stop at managing emotions alone but bounces back by having a ‘positive attitude’. Believing in the ability of the team to accomplish even when results show otherwise, marks a resilient leader. His belief then could translate into action by the team.
The turnaround at the Ford Motor Company by Alan Mulally illustrates the value of resilience. On becoming the CEO of Ford in 2006, Mullaly faced week after week of challenging news about the business. Ford was on the brink of bankruptcy and its very existence was at risk. During such difficult times, Mulally maintained an upbeat, positive spirit and a can-do attitude that dynamically transformed Ford. Today, Mulally is viewed as the man responsible for one of the most spectacular corporate turnarounds in history. 
The outlook of a resilient leader is to view failure as feedback and a milestone in the growth journey. The next day, the next challenge, or the next project is an opportunity. The past ought to stay in the past. Perseverance enables us to see each day as an opportunity and never give up in efforts towards success.
The tool to defeat the challenge of giving up is improvisation. Creativity combined with improvisation has brought about some of the greatest solutions in this world. Improvisation, bouncing back, a positive attitude all spice up the key attribute of leadership that is resilience. Having resilience helps leaders in their journey in building inspiration in teams to continue to work for the goals of the organization.

Conflict and its impact on the bottom-line

We live in a world of togetherness where our interactions provide great value. Those interactions at times lead to conflict. The word ‘conflict’ bombards our minds with undesirable results and relationships.  
We fail to take note of the productive aspects of conflict. A fact that is interesting is that a certain amount of conflict which is constructively resolved is essential for high performance and bringing in creative solutions at the workplace. However, an increased level of unresolved conflict leads to a loss of productivity.
According to a 2008 survey by consultants OPP, UK employees spend almost two hours per week dealing with conflict at work resulting in an annual “loss” of 370 million working days. The magnitude of loss due to unresolved conflict is tremendous in organizations.
There are two main ways in which conflicts are resolved, the healthy way and the unhealthy way. The healthy way of conflict resolution builds team bonding by causing those involved to change their attitudes and grow. It also results in problem resolution. This contrasts with the unhealthy way, where team morale is destroyed and team members become divided and polarized. Unhealthy conflict leaves the problem unresolved and leaches resources and energy from the core project at hand.
Conflict in organizations has been defined by Putnam and Poole (1987) as “the interaction of interdependent people who perceive opposition of goals, aims, and values, and who see the other party as potentially interfering with the realization of these goals”. 
According to a study on Organizational conflicts by the International Conference on Innovation and information management, Singapore, it was identified that 38 % of conflicts in India are not resolved. The study further pointed out that on most occasions, in India, conflicts caused due to personality/ego clashes, lack of trust, and power struggles are not resolved.
The challenge for any team is to learn how to disagree agreeably. In other words, proactively resolve and channelise conflicts into constructive benefits. The faster this is done the better it is for the organisation.
This can happen when there is an intentional preset, the context of ground rules to prevent, resolve and withhold conflict escalation. This is in contrast to just waiting for a conflict to happen and then looking for a way to manage it.
Breakthrough in the past years has designed and conducted programs for conflict resolution and prevention in organizations. Tools such as DISC profiling coupled with training programs help in preventing conflicts by enabling individuals to understand the personality types of their co-workers.
There is also another unique way of preventing and resolving conflicts, and that is through the drafting of a Social Contract. This contract is developed by the team and for the team. Hence, there is greater ownership. It also lends itself to be a proactive process of being accountable to the task, team, and organisation. This contract is signed by the team and followed as a culture to be accountable in preventing and resolving conflicts. At the end of the day, the social Contract is a shared deliverable and owned by the entire team. Breakthrough has worked with about six or seven groups in Bangalore and one in the USA and helped them draft a Social Contract.
It is important for organizations to pre-empt conflict situations and be prepared to manage them. This aspect is wonderfully brought out by celebrated poet and philosopher ‘Thiruvalluvar’, who wrote in Thirukural that
The fortune of a man who does not guard against failings before they Manifest will perish like a stack of straw before a flaming fire”.
Drawing parallels from this, organizations need to guard themselves against aspects like conflicts that threaten business interests. Hence, it is essential for organizations to be well-equipped to deal with conflicts. This is also an effective way of cost-cutting. Hence, dealing with conflicts should not be an aftermath but needs to be nipped in the bud.


Impacting Lives of Differently-Abled Children through Outbound Experiential Learning

Breakthrough organized a unique Outbound Experiential learning program for differently abled children on December 2nd, 2013, the eve of World disability day. Breakthrough, is a leading Outbound training service provider with a mission to impact lives in corporates, colleges, schools and NGOs. With that mission in mind, differently abled children supported by four NGOs, U&I, Rakkam, Provision Asia and Asha Kiran were invited to participate in an event designed to create fun filled experiences. The program was based on the theme by the UN for World Disability Day, “Breaking barriers, Open Doors: for an inclusive society and development for all”.

The guest of honor for the day was Inder, a champion who worked through his disability, of being Spastic and speech impaired, to qualify as an assistant supervisor in the packing division of a leading organization. The job now supports him and his family. Inder was a symbol of inspiration to the children who attended the program. Speaking on the event, Robin Paul, CEO and Founder, Breakthrough said, “Today on the eve of world Disability Day, Breakthrough is happy to create an environment of fun and learning for the Differently Abled Children.  A few years ago a child who had never spoken a word from Baldwin Opportunity School, spoke his first word during one of the activities at Breakthrough. We hope that we have made a positive difference to the children who came to Breakthrough today“.


Breakthrough believes fun and adventure is a way into the lives of Differently Abled Children. During the program, powerful experiences through fun were created for the children.  The children experienced the low ropes course and other unique energy-filled activities during the program.