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Women’s Leadership Speaker Series: Advance through change by leading with resilience

Linda Berardi
Linda Berardi

Linda Berardi remembers the date: Sept. 3, 2010.

She was fired from her job of more than 20 years at a behavioral health organization.

Her first thought was a fearful “What will I do?” Her second thought was a hopeful “What will I do?”

Today Berardi, with more than 25 years experience in leadership development and organizational consulting, is founder and principal of Willow Oak HR Consulting.

“I found light. I found hope. And I found my next gig,” said Berardi, delivering her talk “Advancing through Change: Leading with Resilience” as part of the Women’s Leadership Speaker Series.

Berardi stressed the importance of developing resilience in response to life’s stressors. Doing so requires the ability to treasure what’s important, and for Berardi, that didn’t mean valuing her education or certifications.

“It was how I connected with the people I work with,” she said. “What are your gems in the rubble? We all have them.”

Berardi centered her talk on appreciative inquiry, which focuses on an organization’s strengths rather than problems in order to develop solutions. Tidewater Community College President Edna V. Baehre-Kolovani has embraced that same philosophy in developing a strategic leadership plan for the college.

“Instead of identifying problems, why not amplify success?” Berardi asked.

The strategy calls for investing in resources to make success inevitable and discovering within yourself what makes you thrive. Berardi outlined the following steps:

• Discover or appreciate the best of what is
• Dream or imagine what could be
• Design or determine what should be
• Destiny or create what will be

Appreciative inquiry is an ongoing process, Berardi said, meaning making time for “appreciative check-ins,” sharing stories of success in the face of change and collaborating with others to seize the opportunity to innovate.