Build strong risk management resilience traits to flourish during adversity

27 October 2021

Talk to any organisation today and you will learn about how they are navigating their way through an increasingly fast changing, and often unpredictable business environment. One where interruption and adversity come in many forms. But also one which requires of organisations to align their internal culture with resilience traits necessary to flourish. 

Many organisations already undertake some form of risk management designed to enable their ability to predict with greater certainty. This foresight helps the organisation to understand, practice, buffer or minimise exposure to known or foreseeable risks. 

We were curious to canvas the different strategic approaches that organisations employ to address interruption to business productivity or processes. With this objective, we took to our LinkedIn audience in a recent poll to understand where respondents’ efforts are invested when they plan for adverse events.

Half of our respondents reported that they view planning efforts, such as testing and staging interruption, as important. The other half did not. Instead, the latter reported to only have business risk insurance in place to minimise the financial impact of interruption on the organisation’s operations and productivity. 

Is it enough to only manage the financial impact of risk?

Although planning for and managing the financial risk impact is commendable and necessary, we’d like to shift the focus to the next step and ask: what does it take to turn adversity into opportunity? To not only be resilient, but to capitalise on that resilience to ultimately grow stronger and thrive?

One such example comes from a supply chain and manufacturing organisation that leveraged the uncertainty in the marketplace by planning for various scenarios in their operations. The organisation went on to effectively ‘fire drill’ each risk scenario depending on which risk is most likely to materialise.

In this case the organisation was able to anticipate what the likely impact might be of events such as the global chip shortage, ongoing national pandemic lockdowns and trade restrictions on day-to-day supply operations and the physical movement of products. It was exciting to witness the manner in which this organisation used their strategic risk management and planning to maintain their existing customers’ expectations. It was also inspirational to notice how they went on to flourish and exceed all expectations using a pro-active risk management approach.

But what does it take of leadership on a personal level to empower organisations to flourish in the face of adversity? We urge executives to distinguish between things they can and cannot control and sculpt those traits that will help inject resilience into the organisational culture:

1. Become comfortable with discomfort

One of the key resilience traits that is sometimes underestimated and overlooked, is the ability to navigate a constant feeling of discomfort with grace. Due to the nature of the executive job description, you are never far from significantly stressful events and always aware of the imminent risks that might materialise.

Executives should guard against not letting the pressure spill over to the team within their immediate influence. This awareness of how their own mindset and attitude influences their direct teams helps manage the executive’s state of mind while leading through change and at times of adversity. 

Their calm and purposeful demeanor reassures the team in turn.

2. Make peace with the unknown

It is important to reach a state of contentment with the increased pace of pervasive change. 

If the past few years have taught us anything, it is that incremental change is no longer a given. If anything is certain it is that pervasive change will visit in more frequent waves. Make a conscious effort to bring the focus back to what is within your control as a team lead or executive and to the knowledge that building resilience takes time and consistent effort.

The truth is that there is no resilience quick fix or five-step programme to follow that guarantees any organisation to thrive when faced with adversity. Over time it will inevitably become easier to adopt the proactive approach to risk management, to spot the opportunity when it seems like there is none and to get back in the proverbial ring after it feels as if adversity knocked you to the sidelines.