What was your first thought when you read the question? An oak? Hmmm!
Imagine the elegance and the firmness of an oak tree. It stands like a strong edifice. It has very attractive and charismatic qualities like being solid, having firm branches, makes great homes for birds and squirrels, deep and strong roots and it gives great shadow on average sunny day.
And what is it you like about bamboo? For sure it looks beautiful in your garden; it waves beautiful and gracious with the wind, too. Yet, what about this rampant bamboo? Would you want to have bamboo qualities in your team?
What are the qualities your team needs most today in order to thrive facing the challenges of today’s business and constantly changing world of work? Our brains, are they helping us with this one?
Most of us, on the first thought, are at least charmed by the idea that your team has more oak qualities. Like firm, steady, productive, and trustworthy, standing tall with long and deep roots…Solid qualities that appeal to us. Almost genetically we feel attracted to these oak qualities. And if we are not so sure our brain tends to add to what it perceives as right and makes it our favourite. We associate and like better with the familiar. This is basic neuroscience and very “human”, isn’t it?
But what if we suspend our voice of immediate judgment and take some time to think about the question and the context?
Isn’t it important nowadays to be flexible and adaptable in the face of ambiguity and/or fast and constant change? Or to be able to recover from the stormy times? If we choose to stand too firm, there is a high chance that we might eventually break…like an oak in a storm.
We live in – what they call – the VUCA times… The world is getting more volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous every day. What is needed to cope with this VUCA world, and stay thriving and resilient? Wouldn’t it be great having the ability to flex and bend during, and straighten up again after the storm? These are inherent qualities of the bamboo!
Don’t we need the best of 2 worlds for our teams to be thriving and resilient?
Resilience, the new challenge?
Many organizations successfully attempt to be prepared to react to many uncertainties and upcoming storms. Structural changes (i.e., focused and aligned behind a coherent business strategy) for efficiency and productivity were made using making organizations fit (again) for the challenges of today. And for sure this worked; organizations did regain their required level of profit…but what about their level of thriving and resilience from sustainability and people point of view? Did the stormy times improve their resilience and/or help them thrive or just survive? Were they the oak tree that resisted the storm losing a few branches? Or did they just prune the oak rigorously so the storm has less grip on it? (By the way, pruning an oak to rigorously is causing future problems, disease, and instability….)
More and more organizations come to the conclusion that changing organizational structure and processes isn’t the final answer to the challenges they face in order to maintain a culture of alignment behind a coherent business strategy.
Sustainable resilience and thriving doesn’t come from structure alone, it comes from people and collaboration as well! Like the oak and the bamboo, we need qualities from both.
We found, through literature research and from our own experience that thriving and resilient organizations are built on:
- Successful, resilient, and meaningful personal and professional life starts with SELF LEADERSHIP : The “I”
- A productive and positive system entails collaborative relationship in which its members bring their whole selves: The “WE”
- Successful teams thrive as long as they produce results and when personal and team values/goals are in alignment with organizational values, vision, and goals: The “IT”: The Creating WE
A lot is known about resilience on a personal level. There’s a load of studies on trauma, burn-out and not to forget a lot of self-help books, which are all greatly appreciated. We acknowledge the importance of the “I” in order to create a resilient culture because change always starts from within.
We also believe there is an enormous additional potential for increasing the thriving and resilience in business and community. This potential is hidden in the “WE” and in the “IT”, in the collective intelligence of the system we form, at home, in our community and in our working environment. And in creating a shared purpose and values, aligned objectives and ways of working that are supporting the WE to thrive and be resilient.
Unleashing this potential is the challenge for organizations nowadays. DARE-to-THRIVE!
For sure the question about your team/organization being an oak or bamboo will raise a lot of questions. What’s wrong with the oak? What’s so ideal about bamboo? There is no 100% truth.
We believe in a thriving team or organization, everybody tries their best to bring about the best for the team or organization they belong.
In this blog we wanted to show that 100% rigor and 100 % flexibility both are not the way to go forward. Resilience isn’t about being flexible in every storm. Sometimes it is needed to stand firm as an oak, taking a stand. And sometimes from our perspective, for the sake of the fitness of the organization and its members it’s better to have bamboo qualities.
So, yes! We believe resilience is one of the essential leadership skills (both at individual and managerial levels) in today’s VUCA world. To us, this can only be achieved by the team and its members in a constant dialogue between the “I”, the “WE” and the rational “IT” aspects of their work.
Let’s use the wind to practice!