July 12, 2021 / Blog

Practical Resilience: Resilience Requires GRIT!

Jason Jackson

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Umph! Drive! Go-Power! Tenacity! Determination! Ingenuity! Resourcefulness! Self-Initiation! Fortitude!

Passion meeting perseverance!

However you want to define it, GRIT is the X-factor in making your plans work and your organization more resilient!

I had the honor of representing a former employer following Hurricane Katrina in addressing one of the US Senate Committees on why we were successful in our response to this disaster.  Like others testifying, I outlined all of the steps in planning and preparation.  I talked about the platforms, mechanisms and processes.  But at the very end, I said something different than the others.  “None of what I’ve described in the previous steps mean anything if you don’t take action.”

Action, was the final – but most important – step.  It’s where the rubber meets the road.

If you’ve been in the resilience, crisis or continuity space for any time at all, you likely have seen the difference between those that “plan” and those that “do”.  Success requires both, but when it’s game time – action is the word of the day.  Enter the importance of GRIT!

I can tell you countless stories of people at all levels in sometimes the most unassuming roles that made a huge difference when the chips were down, because they leapt forward without hesitation and took action.  Sometimes according to plan.  Sometimes divergent from it.  THIS is GRIT!

But how do you build GRIT into your organization?  Here’s 6 quick thoughts:

  1. Build your CULTURE. Does your organizational culture contribute to the feeling that people are free to take actions?  Or are people naturally apprehensive?  The culture you consistently create, what you espouse and value you place on GRIT is a major driver as to whether people feel free to act when the time comes.
  2. Cultivate your workforce. Jump back up to that first line at the top where GRIT is defined. Hire and retain people that have these qualities – determination, resourcefulness, drive, etc.  Whether it comes naturally or is a learned behavior, reinforce it through continued development (e.g., training, exercises, etc.) of your workforce.
  3. Tell them and then tell them again. Be honest with your teams about their boundaries and then give them freedom within a framework. Don’t assume they know the limits of what they can or can’t do and/or what you mean if you speak vaguely.  Be clear and explicit.  Tell them and then tell them again.  If you say, “Do the right thing.” they should know what you mean by “the right thing”.
  4. Foster Autonomy. Leadership knows no level. Freedom of action isn’t reserved for the CEO and upper leadership.  During a crisis, informal leaders often emerge from the rank and file because they are faced with an immediate situation that requires immediate action and decision making.  People at any level need to know and feel that they can act with the best of intentions without fear of recourse.
  5. Encourage. When you see it, reward it!  Praise it!  Teach your leaders to encourage it. Positive public praise of behavior is a powerful motivator to repeat that behavior.
  6. Trust. Depending upon your organization, this can sometimes be a scary proposition.  Many organizations build in tight controls and structure to avoid too much independence or deviation from standard – and for good reason.  However, when things go awry, you need people to be able to diverge and act without other supervisory guidance based upon what they’re facing in the moment.  The concept of GRIT can coexist nicely with “controls and structure” – it’s more a matter of how you develop it within your organization.  Cultivate it and trust that your people will do the right thing at the right time.

How does your organization value GRIT?  What do you do to build it in to your workforce?

More About The Author:

Jason Jackson is a highly respected executive and thought leader in security, safety and crisis management and is appreciated for his ability to bring people together when developing innovative, forward-thinking strategies. Jason’s experience includes leading Walmart’s global emergency management and business continuity teams, where he developed a vision for and launched forward leaning technology and operating platforms to improve the company’s ability to mitigate and manage crises. He most recently served as the Chief Security Officer for Bass Pro Shops family of companies with responsibility for security, safety and regulatory compliance to include cybersecurity, business continuity, and crisis management.  

In his role as the Vice President of Customer Experience at Infinite Blue, Jason develops customer experience excellence by driving holistic thinking and making continual progress with customer alignment throughout Infinite Blue. Working closely with Product Management, Customer Success, and Account Management, he is the consistent voice of the customer throughout Infinite Blue.  

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