Adaptability – the Key to Leadership (and Business) Success

Adaptability – the Key to Leadership (and Business) Success 

Mindy Barker | Barker Associates

Our world is in constant flux. We know that. We hear it. We see it. We feel it. But what does that truly mean for businesses? Why have some thrived through this prolonged disruption, while others have succumbed to it? What exactly sets them apart? 

Answering these questions is crucial because if anything is clear in this sea of haziness it’s that the change we’re experiencing in business is far from over. We still have remote and hybrid workforces, severe supply chain issues, skills gaps, employee burnout, and a number of other issues that require leadership, and organizations, to be adaptable. 

We’ve heard a lot about adaptability, flexibility, and resilience throughout this time, but they’re much more than words thrown around. In fact, according to research conducted by McKinsey & Company, “[A]daptability is the critical success factor during periods of transformation and systemic change. It allows us to be faster and better at learning, and it orients us toward the opportunities ahead, not just the challenges.”  

Key Areas to Improve Adaptability 

While organizational adaptability is needed throughout every level and every department, permeating the company culture, there are three specific areas on which leadership should focus long term:  

  1. Technology. Without a doubt, the digital transformation allowed us to stay in business during a global pandemic. But, as its name calls out, it was, in fact, a transformation. It was (and still is) change to which we have to continuously adapt. Through it, we have realized new capabilities we never knew we had, or needed, including the ability to provide services virtually, a critical component for survival. The question going forward is – what else can we learn from what we did before, not from a reactionary perspective, but an anticipatory one? How can we remain adaptable with technology to better leverage the efficiencies and solutions it provides? Remember, there are higher expectations all around, especially from clients who know we are “always connected.” While boundaries are certainly needed, we still need to be able to meet their heightened needs. 
  1. Focus on new opportunities. It’s no secret that challenges bring innovation, creativity, and opportunities. Take, for example, face masks. Three years ago, who would have imagined that face masks would be a multi-million-dollar industry? But with change and disruption comes opportunity … as long as you have the ability to adapt. Leaders should always be looking for new opportunities, even if it means rethinking their own processes. This isn’t a case of if it’s not broke, don’t fix it. Even if it seems to work well, it does not mean it can’t be better. Essentially, our processes need to be adaptable too.  
  1. Prioritize analysis of trends. Leaders should stay aware of what is happening in the world in terms of global trends, overall economic trends, and specific industry trends. What some learned painfully is that if we find out about them too late, there often is not enough time to adapt effectively. Leaders must have the ability to shift along with these trends. This doesn’t mean creating an entirely new business model. It means proactively making adjustments to stay competitive by predicting future needs and demands. For example, many businesses have had to adapt to economic changes to ensure pricing is in line with budgets or face the alternative of losing money with every sale. 

Adaptability is not about just getting through hard times, but about long-term success. It requires leadership, discipline, and accountability. Barker Associates provides strategic guidance to companies of all sizes. We can provide the higher level of strategy your company needs to grow. If you need assistance, or have any other questions, please click here to schedule a 30-minute consultation at a rate of $100.  

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