When The Watering-Hole Shrinks: 6 Ways You Can Build A Resilient Organization

Disruption is everywhere – the price of oil is on a roller-coaster and taking businesses and economies with it; industries displaced by technology; wildfires are forcing the evacuation of whole cities; Brexit, trade-wars are causing financial markets to imploding; and, more.

Preventing these calamities before they happen is the first and most preferred option.

It is an increasingly interconnected and complex world.

So simply preventing a disruption has become a difficult, if not impossible, task. We live in a time of increased, economic and social volatility and that volatility has repercussions akin to throwing a large rock into a pond the ripples are large and reach out to all areas.

It is essential for non-profit, for-profit and public sector organizations (and individuals) to become agile enough to face the risks we know. But agility is even more important to manage the crises we can’t see coming and may not even be able to imagine.

Who could have imagined a modern Canadian city of 80,000 were evacuated or the Brexit referendum results causing an immediate 13% collapse of the UK Pound?

Read about the leadership lessons from Ft McMurray

Here are my thoughts how all organizations must improve their ability to withstand disruption. Why?


  • Your employee’s livelihoods depend on you,
  • Your shareholder’s or donor’s investment have been entrusted to you;
  • Your clients and customers rely on you; and,

In short you, as the Leader, are responsible.

1. Learn to work on multiple time-cycles. It is singularly impossible to be strategic and operational at the same time.

It may seem right to go “all in” on a new strategy.

But you are apt to miss the next big threat or opportunity.

Great hockey players do not keep their eyes on the puck; they look forward to where they want the puck to go.

Click to read more about talking to your people during a crisis

2. Embrace diversity of thought. Surround yourself with people who share your values, but with different thinking styles.

Have your teams working towards the same goal, but bring and share unique insights and ways of looking at problems.

3. Invest in middle and front-line management. We live in a culture that lauds the ‘Type-A’ personality CEO.

But, when things go wrong, it’s rarely the visionary CEO sorting it out. It’s the people in the middle who determine an organization’s resilience and gets things done.

4. New Brooms may sweep clean but make incremental changes In baseball home runs are exciting, but singles and doubles move you incrementally to winning the game.

5. Efficiency and effective are two different words. The last 50 years management theory has emphasized greater efficiency such as “just in time delivery.”

But that may put us in a risky position as single source suppliers or one employee holding critically important roles creates an extraordinarily fragile.

It is harder, more expensive, and may seem inefficient to build redundancy into an organization– but in the event of disaster or disruption, it can make all the difference between survival and defeat.

And Most importantly

Read More about Crisis Management

6. Build trust when you don’t need it. There is a saying in Africa: ‘when the watering hole starts drying up, everyone drinking from it looks at everyone else a lot differently.’

When you need your people, investors and customers to trust you the most is not the time to start building trust.


I may be speaking live near you this year. I’m being booked for AGMs, Conventions and Association gatherings; anywhere people who want to be better leaders gather and want to improve their leadership experiences.

If you are interested in me improving the leadership skills of your team, I’d love to hear from you. Send me an email to Steve@StevenArmstrong.ca, and we can get the ball rolling.

Download Your Copy of 'You Can't Lead From Behind'

5.0 out of 5 stars

Powerful book with simple steps to success as a leader!

Brilliant piece of work!

Steven Armstrong does an amazing job in this small but powerful book highlighting the fundamentals of strong leadership.

He delivers practical approaches to improving our effectiveness as leaders and demystifies leadership in the process.

Keith J. Johnston - Author of A Garage Full of Ferraris

We won't send you spam. Unsubscribe at any time. Powered by ConvertKit