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Building Resilience with Appreciative Inquiry 

A Leadership Journey through Hope, Despair, and Forgiveness

by (author) Joan Mcarthur-Blair & Jeanie Cockell

foreword by David Cooperrider

Berrett-Koehler Publishers
Initial publish date
May 2018
Leadership, Decision-Making & Problem Solving, Motivational
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    May 2018
    List Price

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Journey through hope, despair, and forgiveness

Leaders cannot predict the complex challenges they are called on to face. Veteran consultants Joan McArthur-Blair and Jeanie Cockell show that Appreciative Inquiry (AI) is an invaluable tool to build resilience.

AI is a widely used change approach that emphasizes identifying what's working well in a system. Leaders can use AI to increase their ability to weather the storms they'll inevitably encounter and be resilient. A profound guide, this book features personal accounts from leaders across a variety of settings describing how they've practiced appreciative resilience in the ongoing cycle of hope, despair, and forgiveness.

About the authors

Contributor Notes

Joan McArthur-Blair and Jeanie Cockell, copresidents of Cockell McArthur-Blair Consulting, specialize in designing strategies to surface the wisdom of individuals, groups, and organizations to build positive futures. They are the coauthors of Appreciative Inquiry in Higher Education: A Transformative Force and many articles on leadership and AI.
Advanced Education as Project Officer leading a large provincial project.

Foreword by David Cooperrider, Distinguished University Professor, Case Western Reserve University &
Honorary Chair, The David L. Cooperrider Center for Appreciative Inquiry Champlain College

Editorial Reviews

2018 Silver Nautilus Award Winner in the Relationships & Communication category.

“Critique: Exceptionally well written, organized and presented, "Building Resilience with Appreciative Inquiry: A Leadership Journey through Hope, Despair, and Forgiveness" is an especially and unreservedly recommended addition to corporate, governmental, community, college, and university leadership instructional reference collections.” – Midwest Book Review

“Resilience has become one of the most highly sought-after competencies for today’s leaders—a capability that organizations struggle to define but seek to both hire and develop. Building Resilience with Appreciative Inquiry offers a model that captures and simplifies the elements of resilience along with practical and accessible approaches to developing and practicing resilience. Applicable across sectors, ages, and roles, this is a great go-to for organizations and individuals who seek to be prepared for change and leadership.”
—Anna-Marie Stuart, FCPA, FCMA, FCMC, Managing Partner, Knightsbridge Robertson Surrette

Building Resilience with Appreciative Inquiry is about making being human a sustainable endeavor in a world of complexity, adversity, and uncertainty. This book provides tools, practices, and reflective questions that will build your capacity to dance fluidly with hope, despair, and forgiveness. The result: resilience, an essential strength for leaders committed to evolving a more positive future. Jeanie and Joan are strikingly honest in sharing their own stories and the stories of other leaders. Anyone stuck in despair, at odds with forgiveness, or looking for hope should read this book. You will come out the other side stronger and more resilient than ever.”
—Cheri Torres and Jackie Stavros, coauthors of Conversations Worth Having and Dynamic Relationships

“Jeanie and Joan model bravery throughout this book. They dive into the human condition of despair and apply Appreciative Inquiry practices to being resilient. With exercises and dramatic stories, they share this as a framework for facilitators, coaches, trainers, and leaders to ‘fan the capacity to inquire into and fuel the bravery leaders hold in their hearts.’”
—Kathy Becker, President and CEO, Company of Experts, Inc., and CEO, Center for Appreciative Inquiry

“The perfect balance of theory and practice, grounded in courageous stories of hope, despair, and forgiveness. This book inspires leaders, facilitators, and individuals with a road map for their own leadership journey. The appreciative resilience model provides an accessible framework coupled with reflective questions to guide your practice and strengthen your leadership resilience. The practical tools and workshop agenda are excellent resources for facilitators and leaders to strengthen teams and foster an environment of appreciative resilience.” 
—Anita Ferriss, Organizational and People Development Specialist, Camosun College

“Jeanie Cockell and Joan McArthur-Blair have written a wholly unique, original, and poetic book that explores one of the most important qualities leaders must cultivate in themselves and nurture in others: resilience. The authors’ approach to fostering resilience is as powerful as it is unexpected. We do not become more resilient, they write, by ‘toughening up’ or ‘doing more, better, and faster.’ Instead, we fully realize the capacity to sustain ourselves and others in challenging experiences by journeying through hope, despair, and forgiveness in a process of appreciative inquiry. Refreshing and beautifully written, Building Resilience with Appreciative Inquiry is rich with engaging stories, reflective questions, and practical applications that will better enable you to thrive in your work, life, and leadership. Read this book and flourish.”
—Jim Kouzes, coauthor of the bestselling The Leadership Challenge and Dean’s Executive Fellow of Leadership, Leavey School of Business, Santa Clara University

“While there is no clear road map through the new and unprecedented challenges that today’s leaders face in our ever-increasingly complex world, in Building Resilience with Appreciative Inquiry, Jeanie and Joan provide a compass to help any leader—formal or otherwise—navigate the often bumpy journey with compassion and resilience. Like a lighthouse beacon on a stormy night, their ALIVE model offers a pragmatic framework for leaders to traverse even the darkest shoals they may face on their journey to help guide others. If you have ever sought to turn leadership breakdowns into breakthroughs, or realize that you need to put your oxygen mask on before helping others, this book is for you.”
—Lindsey N. Godwin, PhD, Director, David L. Cooperrider Center for Appreciative Inquiry, and Professor of Management, Robert P. Stiller School of Business, Champlain College

“Jeanie Cockell and Joan McArthur-Blair have produced a remarkable work based on their scholar-practitioner journey where they demonstrate how to leverage the power of human emotions without judgment and with unconditional acceptance. Building on their decades of work on appreciative inquiry, they share what’s next for building organizations for ecological sustainability and social justice. Jeanie and Joan make a critical link between positive approaches in organizations and resilience and demonstrate how the latter can support leadership development and transformation at the individual, group, organization, and societal levels. Written in the most reader-friendly manner with plenty of practical tools, this book will be especially useful for social change agents, OD practitioners, coaches, consultants, and individuals interested in their own personal growth.”
—Tojo Thatchenkery, PhD, coauthor of Appreciative Intelligence and Professor and Director, Organization Development and Knowledge Management Program, George Mason University