We had the honor of interviewing Randy Manner (Ret.), a former senior military officer turned executive leadership coach. For more than three decades, he served in various positions in the Pentagon and around the world. Prior to retiring from the army as a major general, he served as the deputy commanding general of the United States 3rd Army in Kuwait, the acting vice chief of the National Guard Bureau, and the acting and deputy director of the Defense Threat Reduction Agency. He facilitated the withdrawal of U.S. forces from Iraq, helped neutralize chemical weapons in Russia, oversaw investments in biological prophylactic research on deadly pathogens, and helped coordinate military emergency response support to the United States during natural disasters.
Resilience has been and still is an integral part of Randy’s life and career. He coaches executives as they transition to more senior levels, mentors business leaders in improving their value propositions, and coaches senior military officers on leadership, ethics, and transition from service to our country.
We asked Randy these questions:
Can you define, in your own terms, resiliency?
Resiliency is the ability of an individual or team to bounce back or sustain performance while encountering difficult challenges and situations. It can also be the ability to endure, over time, trying circumstances.
What is the difference between hardiness and grit?
They are both components of resiliency. Hardiness is the degree to which an individual or team can meet extreme challenges and perform in a calm, cool, and collected manner and keep striving toward their goal. People who are “hardier” are typically able to stay healthy under stress in comparison to others. Hardy people tend to be flexible and adaptable to changing conditions. They usually are able to stop, evaluate, and change direction when needed. Grit is the focus and dedication needed to accomplish tasks.
Can you give an example of resiliency done well and resiliency done sub-optimally?
An organization that has a concept of resiliency built into its culture will provide a higher order of performance. In the military, it is integrated in training throughout a person’s career from the first day. As a result of long-term and sustained military operations in the initial years after the September 11th attacks, the critical importance of resiliency gained increased attention and value to help to militate the impact that repeated deployments had on service members and their families. To help reduce the number of stress-related issues like PTSD, the army created a Readiness and Resilience campaign that, in many cases, includes family members.,
Do you think resiliency can be developed?
One-hundred percent, yes. It also depends on the desired outcomes. The army’s desired outcomes of increasing resilience were to increase the ability of its soldiers to deal with long-term stress and reduce the time it took soldiers to recover from mental and physical wounds, injuries, and challenges. For businesses, sports teams, and so on, high performance is also the desired outcome, particularly under difficult and adverse conditions.
What are some ways leaders can promote hardiness in the people around them?
The first thing is to increase awareness of what resiliency means. The Hardiness Resilience Gauge (HRG) measures three qualities that comprise a person's level of hardiness: challenge, control, and commitment. Challenge is about taking a risk and putting yourself out there. Control is your belief in your ability to influence outcomes. Commitment is about purpose and believing that what you spend your time on truly matters. The second thing would be to clearly identify what your desired outcomes in business are for having resiliency be a part of your culture. The third component would be to identify metrics and measure your progress toward your desired goals. Lastly, it is important to understand there are no “quick fixes” to integrate a resiliency program into your culture.