Cover of Unbreakable by Bradley L. Kirkman and Adam C. Stoverink
Building and Leading Resilient Teams
Bradley L. Kirkman and Adam C. Stoverink


February 2023
202 pages.

Hardcover ISBN: 9781503629301
Ebook ISBN: 9781503634299

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An essential guide for managers and leaders on building resilient teams in turbulent times.

As a result of global economic changes, new technologies, and increased competition, business environments are becoming increasingly turbulent and unpredictable, requiring new forms of resilient work teams.

Due in part to the increasing complexity of business environments, more and more organizations worldwide are using teams of employees to respond to adversity. Whether it be new product development teams; business crisis response teams in companies; front line response teams such as fire, emergency medical technicians, or emergency room teams; research and development teams; or pharmaceutical development teams, employees can no longer rely on their own knowledge, skills, and abilities to get their work done. Rather, employees have to work collaboratively with one another and combine their expertise to achieve the synergy and breakthrough thinking that is necessary to be successful at completing complex tasks in today's dynamic environments.

Today more than ever before, work teams must demonstrate resilience. In the face of volatile, complex, and ambiguous business environments, all teams inevitably suffer setbacks. Bradley L. Kirkman and Adam C. Stoverink provide in their new book the hands-on practical tips for building and leading resilient teams equipped to bounce back from those challenges. They highlight four team resources that are essential to any resilient team, including: team confidence, teamwork roadmaps, capacity to improvise, and psychological safety. These four resources are brought to life through compelling stories of teams that performed well in the face of adversity—and a few that didn't. They also provide leaders with step-by-step guidance for how to grow these resources in their own teams, whether they're in-person, remote, or hybrid. This book delivers all the tools necessary to build and lead resilient teams that are virtually unbreakable.

About the authors

Bradley L. Kirkman is the General (Ret.) H. Hugh Shelton Distinguished Professor of Leadership in the Poole College of Management at North Carolina State University. He is the author of 3D Team Leadership: A New Approach for Complex Teams (2017, SUP), and his work has appeared in journals such as the Academy of Management Review, the Academy of Management Journal, and Harvard Business Review.

Adam C. Stoverink is the Director of Walton MBA Programs and an Associate Professor of Management at the University of Arkansas Walton College of Business. His work is published in a variety of journals, including Academy of Management Review, Journal of Applied Psychology, and in outlets such as Forbes and Harvard Business Review.

"Team leadership books are everywhere, with approaches that range from entertaining, anecdote-based "stories" to dense (and often dry) lessons from academics. Kirkman and Stoverink broke the mold on this one, striking an ideal balance of using evidence-based approaches and lively stories to make their points about how to best build and lead resilient teams. Though easy to read and accessible, the Unbreakable framework will change how you think about leading resilient teams."

—Andrea Albright, Executive Vice President, Global Sourcing, Walmart

"Why do some teams rise to the challenge when adversity strikes and demonstrate resilience while other teams are brittle and crack under the pressure? In Unbreakable, Kirkman and Stoverink separate the myths from the reality about resilient teams with many vivid examples and stories. They also provide hands-on tools to make sure teams have the four resources they need – team confidence, teamwork roadmaps, team capacity to improvise, and team psychological safety – to demonstrate extreme resilience even in the face of major adversity."

—Deborah Ancona, Seley Distinguished Professor of Management, MIT Sloan School of Management

"Team members are the heart and soul of any organization today, and the global pandemic highlighted the need for resiliency among every team. Unbreakable provides information that leaders can operationalize effectively with their teams to help them face any challenge or adversity presented to them in the complex world of business. I spent 20 years in the military and several years in the corporate space; this book is an invaluable resource that acts as an operator's manual on leading and equipping others to face adversity."

—Matt Bumgarner, Strategic HR Partner, Tyson Foods

"If we've learned anything during the global pandemic, it is the importance of people and the teams in which they work to be resilient in the face of adversity. Using a blend of an evidence-based approach with lots of practical examples, Unbreakable provides today's leaders with the step-by-step actions they need to take to make sure their teams can collectively withstand any adversity that comes their way."

—Daniel Cable, Professor of Organizational Behavior, London Business School, author of Alive at Work and Exceptional

"Today's teams are working more remotely than ever before, making it more challenging for them to build the kind of resilience they need to innovate and thrive in the face of rampant volatility. Kirkman and Stoverink provide much-needed guidance for building resilience in teams whose members rarely interact in traditional face-to-face ways. Unbreakable provides an essential, research-informed guide for leaders who are responsible for motivating complex work teams."

—Jennifer A. Chatman, Paul J. Cortese Distinguished Professor of Management, University of California, Berkeley

"Teamwork is trending—and probably always will be. But managing teams isn't getting any easier.... In Unbreakable: Building and Leading Resilient Teams, Bradley Kirkman and Adam Stoverink... tackle the problem of how to gird your team against the setbacks that disrupt operations—or worse."

—Daniel Akst, Strategy+Business