Thought Leader Spotlight Video Featuring Eileen McDargh

Eileen McDargh is founder and CEO of the consulting firm The Resiliency Group. She is a sought-after speaker and coach who helps organizations build resilient leadership teams and workplaces. Below we have shared our recommended videos, articles, and books authored by Eileen McDargh. Enjoy!

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Consider some events of this decade:

The stock market gyrates with unpredictable and heartburning results. Icons of solid companies become straw figures before balance sheets. Children are abducted from their front yards and networks of terrorists spiral throughout the world. Religious institutions cast shadows of duplicity while El Nino brings strange fish to the California coasts. Out-of-control fires gulp huge swaths of Texas and Colorado.  Tornadoes rip through the Midwest and South. A tsunami of apocalyptic proportions devastates the northeast coast of Japan.

It’s enough to cause all of us to stand like the proverbial “deer in headlights”, mutter “the sky is falling”, or else spring into action. The latter would be fine but it’s often a knee-jerk response based on what we’ve done in the past. The trouble is that the present doesn’t look like the past.

Whether you’re leading a Fortune 100 company, a small department, or an enterprise of one—whether you are trying to reinvent your career, launch a new product, or juggle the demands of aging parents and children, resiliency skills have never been more important: radical resiliency. 

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Look closely at the characteristics of great places to work and at the conditions most conducive for worker satisfaction. At the core of the majority of these characteristics and conditions is a simple human ingredient: communication. Somewhere along the line, people must talk to each other to understand mutual goals and to create a place where people feel valued. Somewhere along the line, leaders step from behind the desks to LISTEN to what people need, to ask deep questions, to seek critical feedback, and to share information that gives the WHY behind the WHAT.  Somewhere along the line, folks understand that emotional data is just as critical to implementing change as financial data. In short—people truly communicate with each other!

Ah. There’s the rub. Communication is a soft skill when it comes to creating and maintaining productivity as well as productive relationships. It is not the same as the powerful rhetoric practiced in courts.  It’s not the same as legal briefs filled with precedent, persuasion and often ponderous words.  Rather it is learning, using, and relearning the most basic communication tool of all: conversation. In great places to work, the phrase “Stop talking and get to work!” has been replaced by a far better mantra:  “START talking and get to work.”

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When was the last time you boarded an airplane and the pilot was handing out Aircraft Trading Cards with the statistics of the plane on which you’re about to fly?

Think about it. It makes sense. How many of us would buy a car without reading the manufacture’s label on the window?  So why shouldn’t we know about the “product” we are buying? That must have been what Captain Denny Flanagan figured when he stood at the jet way of the 757 that was to take me home to Orange County.

But there was more to the practice. Captain Flanagan brought this idea to United just after September 11th when they were losing customers and furloughing pilots.  His thought was that if the pilots were to become more proactive and more visible, customer confidence levels might increase and fill the airplanes. If the airplanes were filled, furloughed pilots would get their job backs.   It worked.

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What makes the difference between an average presentation and one that rocks your world?  What makes the difference between a memorable speech and one that fades into oblivion as soon as the presenter steps off the stage?  The answer sits in four building blocks that are essential for crafting a speech into a work of art rather than hum-drum blather.

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The opposite of work is not play. It’s depression. So states psychiatrist Stuart Brown in his new book, Play:  How It Shapes The Brain, Opens The Imagination And Invigorates The Soul.

Brown has conducted more than 6,000 play studies on what goes wrong when people do not play—studying everything from serial killers to career-driven CEOs.  Given the current plethora of economic turmoil, negative news, layoff paranoia and growing unemployment lines, the notion of taking time to play sounds like a childish daydream. But if Brown is right, we could become a nation of stress-filled, hypertensive individuals who suffer far more than we need to and—at the very extreme—become downright dangerous to ourselves and others.

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“Where do you get all your energy?”  That’s a question many of us are asked as we finish leading an intense management retreat, conducting a training session, or keynoting a major conference.  My answer, after I jokingly say, “Drugs!” is “Exercise”.

I’ve realized that some of the lessons learned in a physical fitness program are appropriate for our personal and professional growth and have also have application in the training room.

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Forget “fight or flight” as the only duo of responses in the face of stress. For women, there’s a third response: “befriend”. A landmark UCLA study turned five decades of stress research on its head with the revelation that a cascade of brain chemicals gives women a larger behavioral repertoire when confronted with stress. The hormone oxytocin is released as part of the stress response in women. It controls the fight/flight response and, instead, encourages her to tend children and gather with other women.

Accordingly to co-researcher Dr. Laura Cousino Klein, now assistant professor of bio-behavioral health at Penn State, the study suggests that this “tending and befriending” response to oxytocin produces a calming effect. Although it will take new studies to reveal all the ways in which oxytocin encourages women to care for children and band together, it might also explain why women consistently outlive men.

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