How to Develop Adaptability in a Rapidly Changing World

The one constant in life (and business) is that everything changes. Fortunately and unfortunately, this means that your work as a leader or executive will not be the same as it was last year or even last month. If change isnít easy for you, as it isnít for many of us, there are a few ways to handle yourself and your team when changes come down the pipeline.

Loosen the Reins

If youíre a new executive, you may think that operating with the same processes, systems, and even beliefs that your predecessors did is the best way to go about your business. With time, though, youíll realize that you must adapt or fail. One of the fastest ways to adapt may be counterintuitive to many execs and leaders: loosen up.
 
Depending on the company, product, project, or team, loosening the reins can take many different shapes. Here are few ways to cultivate adaptation and innovation when changes do occur, on both a team-wide and company-wide basis:

Cultivate curiosity

This is, hands down, one of the best ways to move from fear of change to embracing change. When youíre the head of a team or youíre an executive of a company, encouraging different learning strategies or introducing new information can help engage employees rather than push them away. Try:

a)     Holding training sessions for new processes/systems
b)     Allowing the team to come up with new ways to address the changes
c)     Actively exploring the problem/change/new situation with your employees

If you let change stop you from making important progress as an executive, you canít expect your company or team to move forward. Set the example embracing curiosity!

Focus on the positives

While change is scary and sometimes hard to embrace, there are often many upsides to the new reality. As a team or company, highlight the ways the changes:

a)     Support your team
b)     Will grow the business
c)     Make things happen faster
 
When your team or company employees see that youíre embracing positive change, they will be able to do so as well. Not every change is all positives, though, so allowing communication about concerns (rather than glossing over them with positivity) will make the shift more successful.

Donít expect (or project) perfection

Changes happen all the time, but that doesnít mean that you automatically understand what to do or how to do it. As a team or company, allow a certain level of ďplayĒ to accompany a new change. Make sure your organization knows:

a)     The new plan/employee/project/etc. will take time to get used to
b)     You donít expect life-altering results after Week 1
c)     They can have fun adapting
 
Leaders arenít often shown as fallible, but they are. Make sure your team or company know that you are learning alongside them. You can make any changes work as long as communication and innovation are present.

Set the Tone for Success

The key to leadership is setting an example and guiding a business, organization, or team through inevitable transitions. By accepting changes as a reality rather than a roadblock, you can make the shift easier for everyone involved.