In the ever-evolving landscape of the modern workplace, adaptability has become more than just a buzzword – it's a defining trait of successful individuals and teams. But what exactly does it mean to be adaptable, and how can we harness this soft skill to enhance our work?
Flexy-Gumby: A Lesson in Adaptability
During my time at a leadership internship in college, there was a mantra that echoed through the halls: "Flexy-Gumby." Referencing the iconic claymation figure, Gumby, reminded us to embody the same mental flexibility. This simple phrase carried a profound message: in the workplace, rigidity can hinder progress. Change is inevitable, and it should never impede us from moving forward, making decisions, or achieving our goals.
While some individuals seem naturally inclined to ride the waves of life with ease, adaptability is a skill that can – and should – be cultivated by all. Understanding how you and your teams adapt to challenges, whether foreseen or unexpected, is critical to thriving in an ever-changing environment.
Challenges Faced: A Vital Examination
It's crucial to examine the specific challenges your organization and team encounter. What instances have halted productivity? What obstacles have thrown you off course? Equally important, what are the moments when your team rose to the occasion and thrived in the face of adversity?
The question isn't whether your team can adapt – it's how they adapt to challenges. Recognizing the unique ways your team responds to adversity empowers you to move forward with confidence, regardless of whether the waters are calm or turbulent.
Unveiling Your Team's Adaptive Prowess
At Increase Your Impact, we leverage the Clifton Strengths report to help you comprehend how each team member approaches and tackles challenges. By understanding these individual approaches, we can you better see how your entire team adapts to challenges collectively.
Think of it as building a car. When we comprehend the role of each part, we can ensure that they have what it takes to propel us toward our destination. With a deeper insight into your team's adaptability, you can navigate the twists and turns of your professional journey more effectively.
Adapting is something that comes up often in our conversations with clients, and it’s such a defining moment when it clicks for them how they successfully adapt to challenges. It’s easy when a client is high in the Clifton Strengths theme of Adaptability, because they are so naturally good at remaining unshaken when an unforeseen challenge appears. They are present minded people that love variety, and they welcome an exciting twist. One of our favorite moments with these clients is when they realize how much of an asset they are to the people around them. Adaptability sits in the Relationship Building domain, which means that it’s part of how they successfully build relationships with others. Those high in Adaptability not only ride unexpected waves well, they help those around them to do the same.
For our clients that are low in the Adaptability theme, we ask questions to find which themes help them to adapt. One specific client comes to mind. The Adaptability theme sits in his bottom 5, and he was definitely feeling its absence! As we reviewed his Clifton Strengths list, we were quickly able to dispel his discouragement and identify specific ways that he could successfully adapt by leveraging his strengths. His Learner, Input, Analytical and Deliberative allowed him to know the projects that he leads inside and out. Even though he couldn’t predict every obstacle that would come their way, he was able to use these themes to help build an arsenal of solutions to whatever problem surfaced.
He's also high in the Discipline theme. This means that he loves the act of building structure. This gave him permission to build project structures that brought efficiency and reliability to the team. In turn, this also helped our client to understand that his Discipline talent was one of the keys to calming chaos on the spot. For our high Discipline clients, we call it "restructuring". Simply restructure the plan for that day or for that step in the process. It’s an adjustment made on purpose, and it only takes pausing in the mist of chaos rather than attempting to herd the chaos.
So, whether you’re someone that moves with the waters of life, you’re someone that restructures to face a challenge, or there’s another way that you take on these waves — it’s not about IF you adapt but rather HOW you do.