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3 Reasons we need adaptable leaders and how to build them

If someone asked you what’s required to build a long-lasting organisation, what’s the first answer you’d reach for?

While there are several ingredients that are foundational to truly resilient businesses, strong and adaptive leaders are one of the keys to success.Their vision, approach, and consistency are what sets the tone for the rest of the organisation to follow. This holds true regardless of whether their team is in the midst of “years of plenty” or “years of scarcity”.

Learning is an ongoing and evolving process. All leadership is contextual and great leaders understand that as environmental conditions change, a different style of leadership is sometimes necessary. Looking to grow your adaptability is one powerful method to increase your strength as a leader.


Why do leaders need more adaptability?

Here are three reasons why leaders need even more adaptability in the current environment.

1. Strong, adaptive leaders learn from challenges and failure

It takes courage to face overwhelming challenges and to look for the lesson in failures. Adaptable leaders see the value in challenges and reflect on moments where outcomes did not eventuate as planned as huge opportunities for further learning. They’re not close-minded, committing instead to reading the tea leaves in order to increase their odds of success on their next attempt.

2. Adaptability allows for market responsiveness

‘Best laid plans’ do not always equal executed action. With ever-changing market conditions and all kinds of global events leading to shifting business environments, adaptability is a core value that means leaders can be responsive to moving opportunities, changing climates, and new avenues that emerge – even if it means letting go of previous plans and approaches.

3. Adaptable leaders build strong teams

Not every leadership style is equally as effective from team member to team member. When a leader can effectively nuance their approach, they can shine a light on the strengths of their team and find creative solutions in areas of weakness. As a bonus, when adaptability is valued at a leadership level, the team themselves can implement that quality in their workflows.


How to increase your adaptability as a leader

Increasing your strength and adaptability as a leader is a lifelong pursuit. One way leaders can cultivate their adaptability is by looking for opportunities to learn. Paying attention to developments across different industries, increasing your knowledge of unrelated subjects, making connections outside of your comfort zone – these are all practical tools that can be implemented daily to slowly, but surely, increase your adaptability.

You can also strengthen your adaptability by cultivating an environment that’s emotionally and psychologically safe. Amy Edmonson defines psychological safety as “a belief that one will not be punished or humiliated for speaking up with ideas, questions, concerns or mistakes.” Her TED talk can be found here.

This allows for teams to work in a transparent, honest way, creating a breeding ground for greater collaboration, increased creativity, and potentially richer results.

Put the strength of your team to the test while practicing adaptability together in a virtual mountain climb to the summit of Mt Cook / Aoraki. This virtual adventure isn’t about technical skills but is about resilience, our ability to adapt, teamwork, grit and determination. Find new ways to increase your strength and adaptability as a leader while cultivating the same skills within your team as you make your way to the summit together.

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