Learning how to adapt
Whether it is personal or organisational change, the ability to adapt is seen as critical to our success and a vital leadership quality*. Yet, at the same time, executives have cited change as one of the top threats facing their organisations*. This paradox is understandable when you consider some of the challenges change can create. For example, organisational change can contribute to employees’ emotional exhaustion and a decline in job satisfaction**. Even welcomed change can be stressful and unsettling*.
So how can you improve your ability to adapt?
Here are 3 suggestions:
1) Practice your flexibility.
According to the EQ-i 2.0 model of emotional intelligence, someone scoring high in flexibility will be able to adapt to changing conditions and will be better equipped to cope with stressful and uncertain situations. One way you could start developing your flexibility is by altering your routines. Decide on three things you would like to change in your daily or weekly routine and keep a note of how well you managed these changes. Experimenting with these controlled changes will help you become more open to new ways of doing things**.
2) Perceive change positively.
Instead of perceiving change as a threat, you could try to reframe it as an exciting opportunity to grow*. Adopting this mindset will help you to embrace change and respond to stressful and unexpected situations with resilience. The Hardiness Resilience Gauge suggests some useful techniques to develop this mindset, such as viewing failures and setbacks as learning opportunities and trying new strategies to achieve your goals.
3) Promote your preference.
Research suggests that understanding your own reaction to change can improve your capacity to adapt*. Sharing and promoting this amongst your colleagues will also help them learn how to best work with and support you through a period of change***. Assessments such as the Change Style Indicator, can provide insights into your personal preference for coping with change and relevant strategies to help you deal with change more effectively.
Change is unavoidable. However, by learning how to adapt, the challenges change creates can most certainly be overcome.
*Calarco, A. (2020). Adaptable Leadership: What it takes to be a quick-change artist. Center for Creative Leadership, 1-14.
**Stein, S. J., & Book, H. E. (2011). The EQ edge: Emotional intelligence and your success. John Wiley & Sons.
***Dinwoodie, D., Pasmore, W., Quinn, L., & Rabin, R. (2015). Navigating change: A leader’s role. Center for Creative Leadership, 1-10.