Updated: Apr 9
At no other time in history has our ability to adapt to rapid-fire economic and social change been more paramount.
Organisations have had to reinvent their business and operating models to survive. Leaders have had lean in to an unpredictable future and find unique ways to engage with their teams effectively. Team members have had to navigate new ways to collaborate and maintain productivity remotely.
For some leaders and organisations, near-term survival is the only agenda item at the moment. Others are peering through the fog of uncertainty and thinking about how to position themselves once this crisis has passed.
Want to future proof your career, be a better leader or even just be more satisfied with life when things return to a 'new' normal? Maybe it's time to sharpen up your capacity to adapt.
What is Adaptability (AQ)?
The American Psychological Association (APA) defines adaptability as "the ability to make appropriate cognitive, behavioural and emotional responses to changed or changing situations"
This definition refers to our ability to adjust our thoughts and thinking, behaviour or actions and our usual or typical emotional responses to successfully interact with changing, novel, variable, and uncertain situations.
The Adaptability quotient (AQ) is regarded as the most sought-after capability in employment today but it is also acknowledged as the new competitive advantage. It sits firmly alongside more well-known 'quotients', the IQ or Intelligence Quotient, the EQ or Emotional Quotient and the MQ or Meaning Quotient, although it's not as well recognised.
At no other time in recent history, has AQ been more important than it is now. It really is time to raise its profile.
What Does an "Adaptable Person" Look Like?
In Jeff Boss' article in Forbes entitled, “14 Signs of an Adaptable Person,” he identifies a number of traits that adaptable people have.
He suggests that adaptable people experiment, they see opportunity where others see failure, they are resourceful, think ahead and engage in positive self-talk. They are curious, they stay current, and they see systems and keep an open mind. They don't whine, blame others or claim fame.
To accurately measure your level of adaptability, don't simply rely on self-reflection, seek out the opinion of others who know you well - colleagues, friends and even family. Ask them how you live up to these traits and identify areas for improvement.
Although Adaptability may not be an inherent ability in all of us, the good news is that scientists agree that it is possible to boost your capacity to adapt over time - with intentional effort, persistence and practice.
These are a few suggestions that may help you boost your capacity to adapt.
Three ways to boost Adaptability (AQ)
1. Adjust Your Thinking (Cognitive Flexibility)
Incorporate different thinking strategies and mental frameworks into your planning, decision making and day to day management of activities. Let go of the 'we've always done it this way' mentality and open your mind to possibility and opportunity. Learn from your experiences and recognise when old approaches are not working. Set aside your ego and identity and be prepared to sit with the discomfort of the unknown.
2. Adjust Your Emotions (Emotional Flexibility)
Vary your approach in dealing with your emotions and those of others. Be comfortable with the process of transition, including grieving, complaining and resistance. This also means opening your heart so that you hear the opinions and thoughts of others and see situations through their eyes.
3. Adjust Your Expectations (Dispositional Flexibility)
Adjust your expectations and assumptions so that you minimise disappointment, frustration, fear, or anger when circumstances change. Embrace the novelty of a changing situation so that you remain optimistic but realistic and open. See change as an opportunity, rather than a threat or a danger.
Why is Adaptability (AQ) important?
There are many benefits to being more adaptable, both in the workplace and also in our personal lives.
1. You'll be more valuable to your employer - Employers value people who are able to adapt in an increasingly changing workplace. Being open to new ideas, anticipating changes and maintaining composure when things don't go according to plan will give you a competitive edge and may certainly future proof your career.
2. You'll be a better leader - People who are adaptable excel as leaders. As a leader you will face situations where you are required to make decisions to change course. If you are not able to pivot quickly, it may threaten the survival or your organisation and also your employees.
3. You'll be happier and more satisfied with life - If you are able to adjust your thinking, behaviours and emotions in times of changing circumstances, you will thrive in whatever situation you find yourself in.
If you are willing to change, and apply persistence and practice to adjusting your thinking, behaviours and emotions, the benefits of high Adaptability (AQ) are well within your reach.
If you need help sharpening up your Adaptability (AQ) skills, get in touch.