Adapt to Succeed
A Practical Guide for Effective Leadership

How well do you adapt to change? Nigerian business leaders, like many others worldwide, have had to navigate COVID-19 pandemic's uncertainty, making adaptability an essential skill for thriving.

The 2020 pandemic presented a unique challenge, and its impact varied greatly. While some businesses were able to quickly adapt and take control of their operations, others struggled to keep up and have yet to recover. This begs the question, what separates the businesses that thrived from those that failed?

The answer lies in leadership and adaptability. Businesses that thrived were led by individuals who understood the importance of adapting to change, embracing new technologies and systems, pivoting their strategies as needed, and fostering a culture of resilience and agility among their employees. On the other hand, businesses that failed to adapt were led by individuals who were resistant to change or lacked the skills and mindset necessary to navigate uncertain times. They clung to outdated systems and practices, failed to innovate, and were slow to react to new challenges.

As workplace uncertainty continues to rise, driven by factors such as the pandemic, changing workforces, and new technology curves, the need for adaptability has never been greater. This blog post explores the importance of adaptability for effective leadership, including its advantages and ways to develop adaptability skills.


What Is Adaptability?

Adaptability means being able to change your actions, course, or approach to doing things to suit a new situation. It is a soft skill and the ability to respond positively to change and uncertainty, and the willingness to learn new skills and behaviours to respond to changing circumstances. To better understand adaptability, think of a chameleon that changes its colour and pattern in response to environmental conditions. For example, during the pandemic, some Nigerian businesses adjusted their operations to adopt new technologies and systems, pivoted their strategies as needed, and fostered a culture of resilience and agility among their employees. The result was improved productivity and customer satisfaction.

Adaptability is essential for team success. Leaders who are not adaptable may find their teams struggling to operate as a unit. To be a successful leader, it's crucial to be adaptable, respond quickly to changing ideas, adopt new strategies and processes, and change course when things don't go as planned. It means trusting your judgement when making difficult decisions, recognizing that what worked before may not be the answer, and accepting that you may succeed or fail along the way.

How Do You Know if You’re an Adaptable Leader?

Adaptive leaders are always open to learning and are never discouraged by failure. They collaborate with team members, seek feedback, ask questions, and participate in discussions to adjust their strategies. They are action-oriented, responsive to change, and proactively find solutions.


Advantages of Adaptability in Leadership

The advantages of adaptability for effective leadership are numerous. First, adaptable leaders are better equipped to handle change and uncertainty. They are quick to respond to new challenges and can pivot their strategies as needed. They are also better at making informed decisions, based on changing circumstances.

Fostering innovation and resilience

Adaptability fosters a culture of innovation, resilience and agility among employees. This is because leaders encourage their employees to learn new skills and behaviours and to respond positively to change and uncertainty. They also lead by example, demonstrating their own willingness to learn and adapt.

Achieving business success

Adaptable leaders are more likely to achieve business success. They can identify new opportunities and adapt their business strategies to take advantage of them. They also foster a culture of customer satisfaction by responding positively to the changing needs and expectations of their customers.

Excel in leadership

Leaders who are adaptable earn respect from their peers, inspire change and motivate their teams to embrace it. They can make quick decisions and pivot the team's strategy to mitigate the potential negative effects of any change. As a leader, adaptability skills are crucial in dealing with challenges and situations that require quick decision-making, preventing actions that could hurt the employees and the organisation.

Enhance your value to your business or employer

Adaptability is considered a competitive advantage for organisations and individuals. Employers value workers who can anticipate changes, open up to new ideas, and adapt to the ever-changing workplace. Developing adaptability skills can increase your competitive edge while also securing marketable skills for the future. It also allows you to handle new challenges with ease and maintain customer satisfaction, leading to business success.

Bounce back from adversity

Being adaptable means being resilient and able to take adversity in stride, bouncing back quickly from setbacks. Rather than dwelling on what could have been, adaptable individuals adjust their thoughts and expectations to suit the new reality. This skill is essential for personal and business success, as it enables individuals to tolerate changing circumstances and overcome challenges.


How to Develop Adaptability Skills for Effective Leadership

Developing adaptability skills is crucial for effective leadership, and it requires a growth mindset that prioritizes learning and flexibility. If you're seeking to improve your adaptability or have been advised to be more flexible, here are some useful tips to develop adaptability skills:

Don't be afraid of growth

If your business is growing or unexpected opportunities arise, don't hesitate. Taking risks can be scary, but the alternative can mean regretting missed opportunities. Instead of feeling overwhelmed, consider the benefits and take it one step at a time.

Don’t be rigid, be flexible

Being rigid is a common mistake when trying to adapt to new situations. Resisting change can make it difficult to adapt positively, leading to frustration and conflict. It's essential to maintain an open mind when adapting to avoid becoming stagnant professionally and emotionally. Being open-minded is crucial in business, where circumstances change daily. Resisting having a narrow mindset will improve your listening skills, reduce judgmental behaviour, and encourage creative thinking, thus building critical-thinking skills

Develop emotional intelligence  

To adapt well, it's crucial to be emotionally intelligent. Managing your emotions healthily can make it easier to adapt positively. Rather than reacting impulsively, take time to calm down and think things through, leading to better decision-making in personal and professional settings. You can find out more on how to develop emotional intelligence in our previous article [here]

Cultivate a positive attitude towards change

Although change can be difficult, it's important to stay positive. A positive attitude will help you adapt to new situations and challenges, making others more likely to work with you. Approaching change with a positive mindset can help you focus on adapting and making the most of it rather than dwelling on negative aspects and getting stressed out.

Ask for help

Although adapting to change gets easier with practice, there may be times when you need support. Take a personal day to regroup and let others know that it is okay to need assistance through transitions. While dealing with practical implications, attend to your personal needs as self-care can improve productivityAdaptability is a critical skill in today's fast-paced and ever-changing business environment. To stay ahead of the curve, you need to be able to adapt to new challenges and opportunities quickly. Enrolling in an MBA programme  can help you develop the adaptability skills you need to future-proof your career or business.

At LBS, we understand the importance of adaptability in today's business world. Our MBA programme is designed to help you develop essential adaptability skills such as change management, flexibility, innovation, resilience, agility, problem-solving, and decision-making. By enrolling in our programme, you will be equipped with the tools you need to become an effective leader in the workplace.

The benefits of an LBS MBA go beyond just developing adaptability skills. Our programme offers a comprehensive curriculum that prepares you with the right leadership skills and provides access to resources such as leadership coaching, mentoring, and a diverse and experienced faculty. You will gain a deeper understanding of business challenges and opportunities through exposure to real-life case studies of African and international businesses, providing you with a well-rounded education that goes beyond the theoretical aspects of a business.

In addition, our MBA programme provides networking opportunities that can help you build relationships with other business professionals and leaders. This can help you develop adaptability skills by learning from others and gaining new perspectives. These benefits, combined with our global ranking and awards , make LBS an excellent choice for anyone looking to make a meaningful impact in their career and on the African business landscape.

Become an adaptable leader today!

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