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Book synthesis

The 4 keys pillars of a bulletproof team

What distinguishes truly resilient teams from the rest is their ability to mobilize and bounce back quickly when things don’t go smoothly. Better still, setbacks only make these teams stronger. How do you nurture these unbreakable teams so that they come into their own?

In a context of never-ending sharp turnarounds, a team’s resilience – its ability to bounce back when there’s a problem – needs to be fostered. Because resilience and performance are not the same thing: a team can operate efficiently and smoothly in calm weather but fall apart in a storm.

Based on

UNBREAKABLE, Building and Leading Resilient Teams, by Bradley L. Kirkman et Adam C. Stoverink, Stanford Business Books, 2023.

The role of resilience: the Mann Gulch inferno

Three decisive behaviors mark out a resilient team: they make sense of a situation even though it is an emergency; they pull together when adversity strikes instead of scattering; and they see things through to the end.

The tragedy at Mann Gulch in Montana[1] illustrates how a highly effective team courts disaster if it doesn’t master the basics.On August 5, 1949, 15 hardened smokejumpers were dropped into an area known as Mann Gulch above a wildfire they thought they would be able to contain without difficulty. Once on the ground, however, they were engulfed by the fast-moving flames. The captain, who was holding a rear position, ordered his crew to join him behind an “escape fire” he had started. But, in spite of these instructions, the men separated and tried to escape. Thirteen firefighters lost their lives in less than two hours. They had underestimated the threat, couldn’t make sense of the situation when it took a turn for the worse, and didn’t understand their leader’s strategy. Never having trained together, the crew barely knew one another, and lacked the ability to act as a unified team: each member focused on his short-term survival.The group had cracks in the 4 key pillars of team resilience: their confidence as a collective was low; the roles and duties of individual members lacked clarity; they weren’t able to improvise together when confronted with the unexpected; and they didn’t feel comfortable enough with one another.

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Marianne Gerard
Published by Marianne Gerard
Marianne graduated from HEC in 1998 and is now a freelance journalist specializing in management and higher education. What really fires her up is the human dimension and she is c taking a psychology course at Rennes 2 University.