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How Flexible Are You? The Soft Skill of Adaptability. Part II

How Flexible Are You? The Soft Skill of Adaptability. Part II

This is Part Two of last week’s blog on Adaptability and Flexibility. As I stated last week, these are two skills are coming to the forefront of Soft Skills development. How one adapts to change and remains flexible in one’s approach to it is critical to success in today’s world.


Changing to Manage Process

One of the most common situations in which we will need to change and adapt is when processes change in the workplace. In order to navigate a new process, we need to change not only what we do but how we approach it. New technology, globalizing businesses, and evolving needs all lead to changes in our work processes. If we hold on to the old way of doing things, we risk reduced productivity (and revenue), as well as increased conflict and other challenges. When we adapt to a new process, we are not just learning a new way of doing a specific task, we are demonstrating our ability to adapt to changing circumstances, learn new skills, and work with others.

“Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. We are the change that we seek” – Barack Obama

Changing to Manage People

Managing people is not a “one-size-fits-all” ability. The SOCIAL STYLES™ process demonstrates that people need different things from a leader. Some need lots of feedback and guidance. Others prefer to work independently most of the time and to get feedback only at regularly scheduled intervals. Some people need a great deal of hands-on training with technology or equipment, while others will come into your organization as experts. Taking the time to learn what your people need, and then changing your leadership style to meet those needs, is hugely important to workplace success. When you adapt your leadership style to meet the specific needs of those you lead, it demonstrates that your concern for them is genuine, that rather than expecting them to conform to your preferred way of doing things, you want to invest in them and help them grow. Take the time to ask the people you lead what they need from you, what their goals are, and how you can be a better leader and colleague. Then take steps to make the changes that you feel will be most helpful.

“Our only security is our ability to change” – John Lilly

Showing You Are Worth Your Weight in Adaptability

How can you showcase your adaptability? Studies show that people who are highly adaptable may be more highly valued than those who are highly skilled but less willing to adapt, flex, and change. Some ways to demonstrate adaptability on the job are:

  • Be open to alternative solutions when your first suggestion does not go over well or succeed
  • Be willing to take on new roles, even when they are a stretch for your skills
  • Be willing to help others generate alternative solutions or plans
  • Be willing to accept the unexpected
  • Keep your calm, even when things are moving fast or are stressful
  • Demonstrate confidence in your ability to complete the job even when you’ve had to adapt or flex

Taking the time to develop your soft skills such as adaptability and flexibility will give you additional opportunities in any endeavour.


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