Leaders are typically trained on how to manage people effectively. They are taught effective communication skills, time management, and how to motivate employees. These core business attributes are important for leaders of any organization. But what is often overlooked in training programs is the importance of leaders adapting their styles to the ever-changing business landscape.
The pace of change is accelerating. Every industry faces disruption, and companies that set themselves apart are those that can adapt to the changes quickly. It’s becoming increasingly important for leaders to evolve their styles by continually learning about how to respond to changing business needs.
What is Effective Leadership?
When you think about what makes an effective leader, you might focus on personal traits. For example, leaders who are passionate and courageous inspire others to work toward certain goals. Leaders who are inspiring have a charisma that motivates employees or simply know how to motivate their direct reports in different ways.
Effective leadership is not just based on personal traits, however. While it is true that leadership is partially about an individual’s personality, it’s also equally about the leader’s ability to help others achieve shared goals.
Leaders who effectively delegate tasks will keep employees apprised of their progress and be ready with additional work when needed. Leaders who are adept at setting priorities to ensure all tasks are completed in an efficient manner. Leaders who are strong communicators ensure that employees understand what is expected of them and how they will be rewarded for a job well done.
Effective leaders know their core business objectives and how to achieve these through their teams. Leadership is about letting go of tasks you enjoy doing in favor of the tasks your people do best, allowing them to shine.
Why is it Important to Adapt to Change?
The best leaders evolve. Leaders who do not evolve will become ineffective over time. For instance, if you’re a traditionally effective leader by encouraging your employees to work independently on projects, but find yourself in an organization that requires more team-based efforts, then you may need to change the way that you lead.
You may need to become comfortable with delegating more than you typically did and having employees work directly on projects without your constant oversight. The bottom line is that leaders need to recognize when they must adapt their leadership styles to remain effective in the current business climate.
Being an effective leader means knowing when change occurs and adapting your style quickly. Leaders evolve by staying current with changing business needs. The same leadership style that worked yesterday may not work tomorrow, so it’s important to evolve. With the pace of business change accelerating, more effective leaders are those who adapt to changing business needs on an ongoing basis.
What Are Some Examples of Skills Needed for Adaptability?
Leadership is a broad topic. What makes a leader good in one organization may not be the same in another. Leadership styles also will differ throughout an organization depending on current business needs. Leaders who can change their styles to align with the business need will be more effective.
- Active Listening — Leaders listen to understand what is being said. In order to adapt, it’s important to know what your subordinates are thinking and where there might be a disconnect between the follower and leader.
- Coaching — Leaders must understand that not all employees learn from being told what to do. Some people need guidance in understanding why they’re doing something or how their work affects others. It’s important to recognize what style of guidance each employee needs, whether it is coaching or telling, and be prepared to shift based on the needs of your direct reports.
- Context — Leaders must understand that one strategy will not work with every leader or every team. Different employees need different approaches to motivate them toward a shared goal.
- Flexibility — Leaders must be able to adjust quickly and with ease. When new information comes along, the most effective leaders will not fight it; instead, they will adapt their leadership style accordingly to maintain employee motivation and satisfaction.
- Innovation — Organizational changes, business trends, and technology advancements are just some of the factors that contribute to a business’ need for change. Leaders must recognize these factors in order to facilitate new ideas and support innovative thinking in their teams. Since many changes may require reworking procedures, it’s important for leaders to be open to an evolving business environment rather than sticking with the status quo.
- Inspiration — Charisma is important in leadership positions because it inspires employees to achieve more than they may have been willing to do on their own.
- Integrity — As a leader, it is important to always do what you say you will so that your employees know that they can rely on your word and depend upon the integrity of the organization as a whole. Maintaining trust is crucial for employee success.
- Asking Questions for Clarity & Curiosity — Leaders need to be able to assess the situation at hand and ask questions in order to determine if their approach is working or if they need to change course.
- Foresight — Leaders have an important responsibility in being able to look ahead, find potential problems, and assess possible solutions before it’s too late. The ability to foresee what might happen will help leaders adapt before they are forced to make changes on the fly.
- Leading Change — Leaders must not only be able to accept that change is necessary, but they need to know how to drive that change in their organizations. Successful business leaders recognize the signs of inflexibility and react quickly while also adapting new leadership styles where necessary.
- Emotional Intelligence — As leaders, it is important to understand the emotions of others. How your employees feel will affect their behavior on a daily basis and what they are willing to put into their work.
- Accepting Change — Allowing for change in your leadership style allows you to evolve as a leader rather than stagnating, which can inhibit employee engagement. As business needs change, it is important to understand how your style might need to shift in order to accommodate those changes.
- Credibility — Because being a leader means being able to influence others, your employees must be able to rely on you as an authority figure. Leaders without credibility will have difficulty getting their message across and passing orders down the chain of command.
- Recognizing Body Language & Non-Verbal Cues — Understanding the subtle cues in body language, tone of voice, and other non-verbal forms of communication will help you adapt your leadership style to address the underlying issues related to your team’s mood.
- Coordination — Leadership is not a solitary position. A good leader knows how to coordinate the efforts of those around him or her in order to achieve established goals and objectives.
- Motivating Others — It’s important for leaders to know why others are doing what they do and be able to motivate them accordingly. Every employee has their own individual reasons for performing well, and a leader must recognize these reasons in order to facilitate the best work.
- Laying Out Objectives — By having clear objectives, your team members will have an understanding of what they’re working toward and when their tasks are due. Putting out this information early on helps employees plan for when things need to get done.
- Delegating Responsibilities — As a leader, it is important to give your employees autonomy and confidence in their work. If you are willing to step back and let them take charge, they will be more likely to feel like they are an integral part of the company rather than just another cog in the machine.
- Respectfulness — Respect is an important part of gaining and maintaining the respect of employees. Leaders who are respectful will have less difficulty earning employee buy-in because workers are more willing to listen when they feel respected by their manager or boss.
- Empowering Others — Empowering your employees means giving them the tools that they need to work effectively within the company. Without empowerment, your employees will feel stifled and neglected which can lead to an overall drop in productivity and quality.
- Building Trust — Employees must be able to trust leaders and managers if they are going to give them their best work. Leaders who build trust by being truthful and encouraging efficiency will find that their teams support them through even the most difficult times.
- Collaboration — There are many different ideas out there, and it is up to the leader to find which ones will work best when implementing new strategies or tactics within the company. Using collaboration helps employees feel like they are part of something bigger than themselves.
- Leading By Example — One of the most important parts of being a good leader is setting an example for your employees. Your actions will dictate what is expected of your team members, so it’s important to set the bar as high as you can.
- Mentorship — Good leaders should always be looking ahead and preparing those who work under them for future challenges that might arise within the business. Mentorship helps ensure that the future of your company is in good hands.
- Self-Awareness — The best leaders are able to understand their own strengths and weaknesses. They also understand when they need to bring in outside help or hire new employees who can work well within the company.
- Always Learning New Skills — No matter how well you understand your position or how much experience you have, it’s important to keep learning new skills that will benefit you, foremost, as well as the company.
How Do You Improve Your Adaptability as a Leader?
Leaders need to be able to take criticism constructively and adjust their approach as necessary. It’s important for leaders to be willing and open-minded when it comes to making changes that will benefit the company as a whole. To start, one should work on developing the above-mentioned skills and characteristics. Observing other good leaders and learning from them is also a huge benefit, as it shows what changes have been made over time to evolve into an effective leader.
What Changes Can You Make to Help Improve Your Ability to Adapt?
There are many ways that one can adapt and change as a leader. The first step is recognizing your own strengths and weaknesses. Use what you know about yourself to make changes to improve your leadership skills. Make sure that others are included in the process, as their input is very important when it comes to improving your adaptability.
People are always trying to evolve, but sometimes other people are not ready for these changes. If this occurs, be patient and make small changes. Sometimes, you may need to step back or walk away from the situation in order to remain effective.
What are Common Challenges Associated with Adapting?
One of the biggest challenges associated with adapting is not being able to take constructive criticism well. If someone doesn’t like something about your leadership style, it’s important that you are willing to listen to them and learn from the situation. Another challenge is when you are unable to help others grow within the workplace. Sometimes it can be difficult for employees to step up and show initiative, but that shouldn’t stop you from expecting more out of your team members.
Hone Your Leadership Skills to Become a Thought Leader
It’s not always easy for leaders or managers to adapt in powerful ways, but it is necessary to adapt in order to remain effective. And, once you hone those leadership skills, it is important to share your wisdom with others. Becoming a thought leader will help you stand out from the competition and prove that you are effective at understanding and adapting to change.
If you’re ready to start your journey to becoming a thought leader, contact me! I’d love to help you figure out the next steps of your journey.