Resilient Teams – February Newsletter (4 minute read)

“Remember 5 x 5: if you will not care about something 5 years from now, don’t spend more than 5 minutes today worrying about it”

good advice!

The above was my favorite quote of the month* – shared with me by a coach of mine when I was upset and had lost my big picture view. That kind of longer-term perspective is easy to lose, but now is the time to lower your stress by focusing on what you really want to accomplish in your leadership role over the long term and let go of the rest.

This month’s message continues some of our reflections on 2020, including client and partner acknowledgements, new milestones, and as usual a few fresh ideas for fellow life-long students of leadership and resilience, including some humor!

I hope this message finds you safe and well.  I would love to hear from you!


*Runner up “You should meditate for 20 minutes a day. Unless you’re too busy. Then you should meditate for an hour…”

Missed last month’s very valuable newsletter?  Find it here.

Your brilliant friend forwarded this to you? Subscribe here


Studio In a Box

When I started conversations in January with the team at Udemy about creating an online course on resilient leadership, I had no idea how “timely” that might be.  By the time all the content and graphics were ready, the pandemic had ended the usual production method of going to the Udemy studio in San Francisco and shooting the video.  I ended up being their first test of “Studio in A Box” (see above). 

A wonderful union tech from Local 16 came to my home, with mask, gloves and lots of Clorox wipes, and set up a studio, complete with lighting, video, the producer and director on zoom, and even a teleprompter!  The course went live in April 2020 and as of this writing already has over 1500 students around the world and 15,000 hours of viewing. The 90-minute course – “Agile Leadership and Resilient Teams” – includes short video lectures, online team assessment tools and job aids, quizzes to test retention, and qualifies for CPE.  I was so impressed with everyone at Udemy, who are very sharp and easy to work with. At the very end of this message is a coupon for you or others to take the course for a significant discount (almost free, expires in 30 days). 

Very Funny!     “Just following up…”
We have all been on both sides of this email exchange (turn your sound on, okay for the office):

Everything Old is New Again

Speaking of Organizational Development, I am pleased to be part of a local, SF Bay Area 2020 effort to “re-launch” our branch of the national OD Network: BAODN.  We are going through the process of re-chartering this group but have already convened a very successful event where members of the Bay Area OD community gathered last month to have a dialogue reflecting on the learnings for the community and looking forward to 2021.  Our next event will focus on organizational assessments. I look forward to growing with this community of practice in 2021 and beyond.  Above is a picture from zoom of that core group of OD practitioners celebrating after the event.

Most Used Leadership Ideas from 2020 (continued)
The Heat Curve:

Effective teams have diversity, conflict, passion, and can “diverge” before coming together to take action. The Heat Curve shows that at first, as “heat” increases, the ability for breakthroughs, creativity, innovation goes up.  But if the meeting gets too hot, teamwork and relationships can start to breakdown.  Effective teams develop the ability to handle more heat over time, so they can have strong debates and deliberation when making decisions or solving problems, rather than trying to always be “nice” and avoid conflict.  By building the right team culture, leaders can move their team’s curve “up and to the right” building a team container which can hold more heat without breaking down. The most agile and competitive teams have unbreakable relationships which hold up even under extreme pressure.

Resilient Relationships:

This year has tested so many business relationships – some becoming stronger and others breaking down, sometime much more quickly than we expect. The way to overcome this challenge is to have Resilient Business Relationships, which have three key attributes (just two of the three will not do).  These resilient business relationships are:

  1. Strong – the relationship creates value, would be hard to replace or live without, and is synergistic, where 1 + 1 = 3;
  2. Flexible – like a tree that can bend without breaking, business relationships must be able to change and still function.  If one person or group is too ridged the relationship will fail to grow and instead may break down under new conditions (such as working from home);
  3. Fair – people need to feel they are respected, and their contribution and ideas are valued. Fairness in decision making and the use of power is needed for a business relationship to stay intact under pressure. If one side is all “give” and the other all “get”, the relationship is unsustainable.

 Leaders have used this model to both assess their key relationships (with their manager, their reports and their peers, and with customers and suppliers) and take action to make sure their key relationships are solid and consistent, even when the world we are operating in is not. 

What if you were leading the vaccine effort for the USA? – This article shows how some familiar organizational and leadership issues may have derailed the US vaccination effort (not political).  “Highlights” include:

  • Lack of alignment on goals – were they trying to get the vaccines to the states, or vaccinations into people arms?  Getting teams to team means leading alignment on common goals.
  • A focus on blame/credit vs. outcomes – how much were leaders working on managing perceptions and personal risk vs. creating new realities and empowering others?
  • A lack of collaboration between organizations with different cultures (in this case CDC/HHS vs. Military/Pentagon culture) wastes time and resources and reduces morale.
  • Lack of effective stakeholder voice caused key warnings to be ignored. As often happens, people in the know predicted most of the issues, but their input was not addressed because they were not invited by leaders to the right meetings.  (8 minute read)

On-Line Udemy Course – Agile Leadership and Resilient Teams: Building teams and organizations that thrive during change, and stay resilient under stress.

Student Reviews:

Vinay Pradhan, engineering manager: “Fantastic course. I would recommend this to all people leaders as a must learn resource. Michael Papanek explains concepts very lucidly and brings tons of practical insights and implementation resources for the learner. Studded with nuggets of personal experience and anecdotes, this is one resource to treasure!”

Joel Henner, bio tech executive: “Teams are fragile; team leaders must be agile. This course provides useful tools to help team leaders and team members become active participants in high performing teams. Drawing upon his many years of experience as a management consultant, combined with references to current thinking about team leadership, Mr. Papanek presents a compelling case for agile leadership in a changing world. The concepts presented in this course will help anyone with team leadership responsibilities sharpen her or his skills and become a more effective team leader. Mr. Papanek’s friendly, conversational style makes this course pleasant to listen to and easy to understand, and the included reference materials allow the listener to apply the lessons.
What you’ll learn

  • What is Agile Leadership and how can you assess your team’s agility and resilience
  • How the right kind of “heat” on your team will make you stronger and lead to breakthroughs
  • How to respond to change and uncertainty with resilient leadership
  • How to build strong, flexible, and fair business relationships
  • How to change your team culture by changing your team meetings
  • How to be a resilient leader in times of volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity (VUCA)

Mailing List Coupon: NEWSLRCPON0221

Author Bio:

Michael Papanek – A Leadership Coach, Executive Advisor, OD Consultant, Author, and Team Facilitator

Michael Papanek, a professional leadership coach and expert team consultant, has an interesting backstory. Brought up in a family of leadership and teamwork experts, he has followed in the footsteps of the “family business”. Over 30 years of practice, Michael has developed a uniquely satisfying ability to describe interpersonal and cultural principles blending creative flair with extensive experience, which leads to sustained performance improvement when applied by his clients in real life.

Contact E-mail:

Make your pivotal business relationships unbreakable

From Breakdown to Breakthrough is your playbook to build resilient business relationships that stand up to the heat of change.

“Ultimate decoder ring for rising professionals”
“Well-written, thoughtful account of how to develop and lead teams.”
”A game changer for business relationships”