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Building Leadership Resilience with Appreciative Inquiry – PS92

Leadership Resilience Explored and Strengthened

In this episode, my two guests talk about the quality that can increase your ability to weather storms and come out stronger. That quality is resilience. My guests talk specifically about appreciative resilience and leadership and you’ll soon understand why.

Appreciative Resilience book coverMy guests are Dr. Jeanie Cockell and Dr. Joan McArthur-Blair.  The focus of this episode is their new book entitled, Building Resilience with Appreciative Inquiry: A Leadership Journey through Hope, Despair, and Forgiveness, published May 2018 by Berrett Koehler.

Life Partners and Business Partners

These two talented women are life partners and business partners. Their business is Cockell McArthur-Blair Consulting, based in British Columbia, Canada. They have their distinctive backgrounds, unique talents, and gifts, and they share a love and expertise for Appreciative Inquiry (AI) which is foundational to their work in leadership development, board development, strategic planning, leadership resilience, and innovation.

leadership resilience - Jeanie Cockell and Joan McArthur-BlairJeanie (on left)  is an educational and organizational consultant. She specializes in collaboratively designing strategies to surface the wisdom of individuals and groups to build positive futures. Jeanie is known for her creativity, sense of humor, sensitivity, and ability to get diverse groups to work together. Their new book reveals much of Jeanie’s talent as a facilitator. Jeanie has published a number of articles for the International Appreciative Inquiry Practitioner Journal which was the topic of our last episode on Learning Leaders.

Joan (on right) is an inspirational writer, poet, speaker, and facilitator. Joan now consults after a full and rich career in higher education where she fulfilled roles from faculty to college president. She works all over the world with individuals and organizations to make a positive difference. Joan has been acclaimed for her work and has been awarded the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal, and also the Paul A. Elsner International Excellence in Leadership Award. As an Australian, I know it’s a big deal to get an honor from the Queen.

Highlights of our Recorded Conversation

I was struck that Joan and Jeanie made it very clear that this book on leadership resilience with the particular focus on appreciative resilience is presented as a commentary on appreciative resilience. They explain why that is important early in the book and in our conversation.   They talk enthusiastically about their research, experience, and findings.  In their writing, they exude the Appreciative Inquiry principles.   They stay open and curious to inquiry; they invite wholeness; they reframe contexts and meaning towards what is to be valued and wanted; their stories focus on finding strengths and positivity even in the most despairing times;  their use of words and the relational processes of co-creating collective meaning fills pages with insights and learnings; they are inviting and inclusive of all perspectives.

Throughout the book, they weave in personal stories told by leaders in the first person.  Each story is relevant and touching. I was moved to tears in a number of the stories. They reveal how leaders can build appreciative resilience by using appreciative inquiry as they journey through the constantly evolving landscape of hope, despair, and forgiveness.

Listening to Jeanie and Joan read excerpts from their book is special.  Listen in to enjoy.

The Appreciative Resilience Model

appreciative resilience model



Right from the outset, the reader is offered a way to hold and practice resilience.  It’s their Appreciative Resilience model.  Jeanie describes it very clearly during our conversation.   The three overlapping circles of hope, despair, and forgiveness are the states we experience as we build our appreciative resilience. 


What I Love about this Book

It was an honor to read this book. I felt I was in a sacred place.

The tone is invitational and honoring and respectful. There is an inclusiveness, a humility, a trust and generosity that connects with the reader.  The authors are clear that appreciative resilience is not a “5-step” linear process – we can start wherever we want. They lead us through their Appreciative Resilience workshop and offer all the resources we might need to do it ourselves.

I appreciated

  • Poetry at the beginning of every chapter
  • Reflections at the end of every chapter
  • Personal stories and commentary that connect
  • An Appreciative Resilience Workshop template, and
  • An abundance of helpful, appreciatively-framed questions.

I urge you to invest in this book.  You come back to it, again and again, to feel refreshed, to sources ideas, to be reminded of your existing strengths and talents and be inspired by its wisdom and brilliance.

Stay Connected

Jeanie and Joan's website:  Cockellmcarthur-blair.com

Jeanie on LinkedIn

Jeanie on Facebook

Joan on LinkedIn

The Appreciative Resilience book on Berrett-Koehler

Books and Links to Resources

[amazon template=iframe image&asin=1523082550]
Building Resilience with Appreciative Inquiry: A Leadership Journey through Hope, Despair, and Forgiveness

[amazon template=iframe image&asin=1118097351]
Appreciative Inquiry in Higher Education: A Transformative Force

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