What is Adaptability in the Workplace?

It’s essential to prepare for and not predict change, and speed is critical to success, but often inertia makes people slow to evolve. This is where the future is headed — disruption in an industry leads to critical moments when leaders recognize and plan for the first steps towards change.  According to my guest on The Athletics of Business podcast Greggory Garrett, management skills are still critical, but leadership development is definitely coming more and more into focus — which includes understanding adaptability in the workplace.

The management of skills is going to be as important today as they are in future leadership teaching. I’ve talked about the difference between a leader leading and managing before and why that impacts their team. But, if we commit to some kind of transformation and disruption, the leaders can get out in front a little bit to remove some of the barriers to authentic leadership. 

Be Brave in Your Leadership

One of the skills or capabilities I’m interested in is bravery, which is being brave enough to support changes and challenge inertia inside corporations. Challenging corporations that have had previous success is a difficult thing to overcome, but it’s essential to understand that inertia, while it comes in several flavors, whatever type it is, makes people change slowly. 

If you look at times of significant disruption throuadaptibbility-in-the-workplaceghout history — imagine the world before the internal combustion engine, and then after or imagine it before, electrical power generation and distribution, and then before and after, the kind of technological change that is happening right now with what we broadly refer to as the connected world technologies. IIf you study those patterns, you’ll see that in the past, firms that move more quickly are the ones that have a higher chance of succeeding. 

But how important is leadership to that success? Leadership skills are critical because you have to have to be brave enough to move forward, build some space, and let the managers manage into it. 

As a leader, it’s on you to motivate the team and let them know that it’s safe to try something new that will break the old patterns. Building that level of authenticity as a leader and becoming a resilient leader is about accepting reality, not settling for it while having the ability to respond in a way that means you don’t fall victim to inertia. Even if your decision-making is quick, you can still make decisions with conviction when you understand the importance of what is adaptability in the workplace. 

It can be tricky to understand how you can make the huge decisions that are part of your business life rapidly and responsibly. Breaking down big decisions into small micro-decisions that you can make at a much more rapid pace and checking decisions to make sure they were the right ones as you go is key to embracing disruption in your company. The importance of outstanding leadership and speed in decision-making absolutely cannot be underestimated. 

Embracing Adaptability

Triumphing over challenges always comes down to people — people are the best and worst parts of any job! What I mean by that is that the most complicated part of any organization is typically the human beings that make them up because that’s where the culture really solidifies. Culture and the people who live the culture are the most challenging part of change, which often links right back to inertia and that cultural type of change that is often referred to as dominant logic inertia. 

The dominant logic of the leadership team and how they see the world trickles down and impacts the rest of the individuals in the organization. That’s not to say that they are doing anything terrible; on the contrary, most of the time, the leaders are doing everything right according to their history. But convincing them to do something different can be a stumbling block. 

Embracing adaptability in the workplace is a conscious decision to avoid the pull of ‘doing the same as we’ve always done’ and leaning into change to get the job done. Prepare for change as a leader and have the courage to move quickly when the time is right. Disruption in organizations and companies allows us to recognize those moments when leaders can step up to the plate and take the first steps towards long-term success. 

For more insight into what is adaptability in the workplace and more information into how that quality can benefit you as a skilled leader, check out the rest of the blog series or tune in to The Athletics of Business podcast, where I discuss all aspects of leadership with a variety of inspiring leaders from the world of sports and business. 


Growing Through (Not Just Going Through) Crisis

Why vulnerability can be a powerful leadership asset