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Designing an Organization that Builds Resilient Leaders

Exceptional Leadership by Design: How Design in Great Organizations Produces Great Leadership

ISBN: 978-1-78743-901-6, eISBN: 978-1-78743-900-9

Publication date: 17 September 2018


Resilience is the ability to snap back after experiencing trauma, and is increasingly important for leaders in today’s complex, global world. Resilience can be learned, which is a great news for leaders wanting to sustain through tough times. When adversity arises, resilience becomes the tool to help us grow stronger. Unfortunately, most organizations do not purposefully design themselves to foster a resilient workplace, leaving leaders to do this work on their own. By not investing in building resilience in employees, organizations are missing an important way to differentiate themselves from the competition. Workplaces that build resilience into their practices, culture, and development benefit from employees who sustain, even thrive, through complex change and market shifts.

This chapter explores how the habit of “stealing time” can build stronger, more resilient leaders, in adverse times. We will also discuss how reshaping our own mindset makes us stronger and ready to tackle daily challenges. Then we focus on spiritual, emotional, physical, and mental components of resilience. By increasing our resilience, we also gain a sense of cognitive freedom – a sense of empowered problem-solving and creativity – that can be a positive and contagious force throughout our teams and organizations. Finally, we focus on the organizational “streams” of resilience, which allow organizations to build greater resilience capacities at all levels. By using classic organizational design principles, we begin to see how we can help everyone live and work more fully and with more vigor.


Breen*, J.M. (2018), "Designing an Organization that Builds Resilient Leaders", Elkington, R., van der Steege, M., Glick-Smith, J.L. and Breen, J.M. (Ed.) Exceptional Leadership by Design: How Design in Great Organizations Produces Great Leadership, Emerald Publishing Limited, Leeds, pp. 143-169.



Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2018 Jennifer Moss Breen