"Resilient managers move quickly from analysis to a plan of action (and reaction). After the onset of adversity, they shift from cause-oriented thinking to response-oriented thinking, and their focus is strictly forward."
This quote comes from the article "How to Bounce Back from Adversity", written by Joshua D. Margolis and Paul G. Stoltz for Harvard Business Review. In this article from 2010, authors dissect the way of how great business leaders think and act in view of turning a negative experience into a productive one.
Even more interestingly, I think, is that authors provide a method that each of us can use when facing an adverse event, in order to avoid victimizing about it and to bounce back from it. This method in two steps consists firstly of asking oneself 12 questions aiming to shift from reflexive, cause-oriented thinking to active, response-oriented thinking. Those 12 questions are categorized in four segments through which any manager can view adverse event to make the shift effectively: Control, Impact, Breadth, and Duration.
The next step will then be to take 15 minutes to write down responses to these questions, and to internalize them every day in order that they become second nature.
Here are the 12 questions that a leader may ask when facing an adverse event:
-What aspects of the situation can I directly influence to change the course of this adverse event?
-What would the manager I most admire do in this situation?
-Who on my team can help me, and what's the best way to engage that person or those people?
-How can I step up to make the most immediate, positive impact on this situation?
-What positive effect might my efforts have on those around me?
-How can I mobilize the efforts of those who are hanging back?
-What can I do to reduce the potential downside of this adverse event - by even 10%? What can I do to maximize the potential upside - by even 10%?
-What strengths and resources will my team and I develop by addressing this event?
-What can each of us do on our own, and what can we do collectively, to contain the damage and transform the situation into an opportunity?
-What do I want life to look like on the other side of this adversity?
-What can I do in the next few minutes, or hours, to move in that direction?
-What sequence of steps can we put together as a team, and what processes can we develop and adopt, to see us through to the other side of this hardship?
Then the leader takes 15 minutes to answer the questions. It will enable her to have written solutions on the paper instead of ruminating about the event. Next step is to internalize those questions every day, by asking oneself the questions in response to daily annoyance (e.g. delayed flight, an unresponsive colleague, etc.).
Such a simple tool may help any leader in facing adverse event, staying positive, and becoming a better business executive.