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Why is ADAPTABILITY so important to Effective Leadership

Why is ADAPTABILITY so important to Effective Leadership?   

Character plays a major role in your ability to influence and lead others. The character traits of the TRUE LEADERSI admired most include being adaptable, dependable, integrity, justice, judgment, loyalty, moral courage, positive attitude, proactive, and respectful. 

This blog will address the character trait of adaptability. Why is adaptability so important to effective leadership? I’ll first define adaptability, identify what actions demonstrate adaptability, and finally present a good example of an adaptable leader from history.   

Adaptability is the ability to recognize changes in the environment, identify the critical elements of the new situation, and trigger changes accordingly to meet new requirements. Adaptabilityis the effective change in your behavior in response to an altered situation. 

Adaptability includes being flexible, stable, observant, life-long learner, inquisitive, curious, sensitive, approachable, open-minded, considers multiple perspectives, not jumping to conclusions, willingness to take risks, and resilient to setbacks. 

Adaptability is demonstrated when you;

  • Identify the essential elements critical for performance in each new situation ·         
  • Change your practices by quickly capitalizing on strengths and minimizing weaknesses
  • Are aware of what it will take to perform in the changed environment
  • Are observant for evidence that the environment has changed in unexpected ways
  • Recognize that you face highly adaptive competitors, and operate within dynamic, ever-changing environments
  • Challenge your previously held ideas and assumptions by seeking out situations that are novel and unfamiliar     

 If you remain safely inside the Comfort Zone of your education, training, and experience, you won’t learn to recognize change or understand the inevitable changes in your environment. 

When I think of Adaptable, I think of Admiral Chester Nimitz, and this story extracted from Reflections on Pearl Harbor.   

Admiral Nimitz flew to Hawaii to assume command of the Pacific Fleet. He landed at Pearl Harbor on Christmas Eve, 1941. There was such a spirit of despair, dejection and defeat-you would have thought the Japanese had already won the war. On Christmas Day, Nimitz was given a tour of the destruction. Big sunken battleships and navy vessels cluttered the waters everywhere you looked. 

As the tour boat returned to dock, the young helmsman of the boat asked, "Well Admiral, what do you think after seeing all this destruction?" Admiral Nimitz's reply shocked everyone within the sound of his voice. Admiral Nimitz said, "The Japanese made three of the biggest mistakes an attack force could ever make, or God was taking care of America. Which do you think it was?" Shocked and surprised, the young helmsman asked, "What do you mean by saying the Japanese made the three biggest mistakes an attack force could ever made?" 

Nimitz explained: 

Mistake #1:“The Japanese attacked on Sunday morning. Nine out of every ten crewmen of those ships were ashore on leave. If those same ships had been lured to sea and been sunk-we would have lost 38,000 men instead of 3,800. 

Mistake #2:When the Japanese saw all those battleships lined in a row, they got so carried away sinking those battleships, they never once bombed our dry docks opposite those ships. If they had destroyed our dry docks, we would have had to tow every one of those ships to America to be repaired. As it is now, the ships are in shallow water and can be raised. One tug can pull them over to the dry docks, and we can have them repaired and at sea by the time we could have towed them to America. And, I already have crews ashore anxious to man those ships. 

Mistake #3:Every drop of fuel in the Pacific theater of war is on top of the ground in storage tanks five miles away over that hill. One attack plane could have strafed those tanks and destroyed our fuel supply. That's why I say the Japanese made three of the biggest mistakes an attack force could ever make, or God was taking care of America”.   

Admiral Nimitz’s adaptability significantly contributed to our victory in the Pacific.   

This character trait can be learned, practiced and internalized to help you become a better leader tomorrow than you are today.   

 Bottom-line: If you intend to become an effective leader, adaptability counts!  

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