Adaptability Improves Leadership: 4 Tips for Growth

Do you want to demonstrate leadership worth following? Would you like to develop your “ability to guide, direct, or influence people in a way that has great merit, character, and value”? If so, learn to be more adaptable.

​Our research findings show that people rated as “highly adaptable” score 4 times higher on the ability to demonstrate worthy leadership. These people could be described as possessing a high “Adaptability Quotient” (AQ) – the ability to thrive in an environment of change, like today’s dynamic workplaces.

​To understand how leaders can increase their AQ, we analyzed our 360 survey data from over 10,000 respondents, looking for behaviors that most differentiate high-AQ people. From that research, here are four tips for leadership growth:

1) Persevere Confidently

Do you persevere on tasks despite conflicts, roadblocks, and setbacks? Do you project credibility and confidence, with a relaxed sense of self?

​Build your own AQ on a strong, consistent foundation. Flitting like a butterfly from one activity to the next, giving up too quickly, or coming across as scared or intimidated projects your own indecisiveness and cowardice, not a high AQ. For people to see you as adaptable, they have to know you are making changes for a reason, and that you are in control.

2) Decide Wisely

Do you try to understand others’ motives and behaviors? Do you make effective, timely decisions? Can you focus on long-term goals while also achieving short-term results?

Your own decision-making skills impact your AQ. Sometimes a quick decision is needed, and other times it’s wiser to deliberate longer, which also affords more time to consider multiple people’s perspectives and concerns. In a similar way, there are times to zoom out for the big picture and other situations where it’s best to dive into the weeds and execute!

3) Navigate Carefully

Do you help resolve conflicts for the best solutions? Can you manage challenging relationships and internal politics? Will you share your authority?

Handling relationships and internal politics well strengthens your AQ. Tackle the “tough stuff” and help others work through challenges, instead of shying away. Strive to see both sides of issues and encourage everyone to reach mutual understanding so they can feel good about the outcome. Accomplish this without issuing mandates or “pulling rank” on others.

4) Reflect Internally

Are you keenly aware of your motives and behavior, and the impact on others? Can you translate others’ feedback to you and your own life lessons into action?

Watching your impact and the outcome of your actions increases your AQ. Remove blinders that can obscure problems or deficiencies with the status quo. Lean into greater self-awareness to challenge your assumptions. Be passionate about soliciting feedback – and acting on it! While boosting your self-awareness, don’t forget to maintain your confidence and consistency.

By careful thought and these four actions — persevering, deciding, navigating, and reflecting — you can raise your own AQ and more capably demonstrate leadership worth following.