Skip to content

UXL Blog

Creating Successful Leaders

Tag Archives: adaptable at work

Image via Pixabay.com

Adapting is part of being human, so why is it so difficult? For many of us, change is not an easy thing to wrap our heads around, especially when it’s for something as important as a job. COVID-19 has certainly altered how we work–combining our homes with our workplaces–so it’s necessary to adapt along with it. As a result, the changes made right now could be in place for longer than we expect as we await a vaccine. 

In the meantime, here are 5 ways to effectively adapt to change:

Ask questions.

Digital meetings are just one example of a new widespread workplace innovation. These meetings can be hectic and confusing. When confused, the best way to figure things out is to speak up and ask questions. Asking questions shows that you’re really paying attention and that you want to do your best work. If your technology skills aren’t quite up to date, set up a meeting with your IT department to make sure your digital meetings run smoothly. 

Over-communicate.

Your employers may not know how your time is spent when you’re working from home. Communicating often with your boss and/or associates may seem like overkill, but it demonstrates your responsibility and that you’re getting work done. Keep close track of the hours you work and what you’re doing during that time to ensure you’re being accountable. 

Have ideas? Share them!

There will be a lot of uncertainty as we move forward in the midst of the pandemic. Some managers will look to employees for proposals on how to social distance when transitioning back to the workplace. Research is a crucial step to fully forming an idea. Taking initiative to research can go a long way because it saves your boss’ time. Sharing and researching ideas demonstrates that you’re invested in the company’s future AND shows you’re a leader. 

Keep in contact with co-workers.

Co-workers with similar jobs are going through the same thing you are. A great way to cope with change is to ask co-workers if they’d like to discuss what they’re going through. Associates can offer new suggestions, help you problem-solve, and provide new perspectives. Developing workplace friendships can also benefit you in the future by giving you access to new opportunities!

Be open-minded and flexible.

With everything uncertain, we can’t expect things to go back to the way they were immediately. Old tasks might take longer than they used to and can be frustrating. If you’re open-minded you can challenge your belief restraints and you can grow personally. Being flexible to new ideas also shows that you’re in it for the long haul. 

Just remember: “Intelligence is the ability to adapt to change.”  -Stephen Hawking

MARGARET SMITH IS A CAREER COACH, AUTHOR, INSIGHTS® DISCOVERY (AND DEEPER DISCOVERY) LICENSED PRACTITIONER, AND FOUNDER OF UXL. SHE HOSTS WORKSHOPS FOR PEOPLE WHO NEED CAREER OR PERSONAL GUIDANCE. 
NOW LIVE: CHECK OUT MARGARET’S ONLINE LEADERSHIP COURSE.

Tags: , , , , , ,

Put learning agility into practice

Leaders who “refuse to let go of entrenched patterns or who do not recognize the nuances in different situations tend to derail.” This quote from the Center for Creative Leadership is absolutely true. In today’s global, interconnected market, leaders must be agile enough to navigate a diverse range of disciplines, cultures, and skill sets.

Learning agility is a term that often gets bandied around, but how, exactly, can a leader learn to be agile? How can this concept actually be put into practice?

First of all, learning agility is as much a mindset as it is a practice. For instance, if you’re in a rut with your career, it’s possible you aren’t taking full advantage of learning opportunities. There are many possible reasons for this: perhaps you’re afraid of failure, or worried about getting outside your area of comfort and expertise. However, without allowing yourself to encounter new experiences, you’ll have no shot at developing the necessary life skills to navigate through an increasingly interdisciplinary economy. You can’t expect different results from doing the same thing over and over again; Albert Einstein defined insanity as such.

So, to be agile in practice, you must first retrain your brain to be open to newness. It may not be comfortable at first, but hopefully you’ll find that new experiences are rarely as daunting as we build them up in our minds.

When aiming for “brain retraining,” consider four different attributes of learning agility (as discovered in a study by Colombia University): Innovating, Performing, Reflecting and Risking.

Innovating:

This refers to challenging the status quo. Instead of going along with what’s worked in the past, an innovative leader embraces new challenges and is open to new ideas. An innovator asks questions, takes on new tasks and experiences to increase their perspective, and constantly tries to approach issues from multiple angles.

Performing:

To possess learning agility, you must be able to perform under  stress and deal with the inevitable ambiguous or unfamiliar situation as it arises. An agile learner does this by staying present, engaged, and a keen observer of new information. This includes listening skills; a good performer must embrace, not avoid, verbal instruction.

Reflecting:

This goes beyond simply thinking about the new things you’ve learned. Reflecting means using new information, skills, and experiences to generate a deeper insight into yourself, those around you, and any problems you’ll face. Good reflection should always ask the question, “What kinds of changes do need to make in order to  accommodate  these new experiences?”

Risking

Learning agility is a body of skills and attributes that can be boiled down to one character trait: the ability to put yourself out there. This means that you volunteer for opportunities that don’t guarantee success. In fact, an agile learner values the experience of failure, as it is a much better catalyst for growth than continual success. Risk here means risk that leads to opportunity, not thrill seeking.

If these attributes don’t describe the way you operate, don’t panic. “Being open to failure” isn’t natural, fun, or frankly, very common. Don’t think of these traits as a list of must-do’s in order to be successful. To put it in perspective, these are the conclusions derived from studying a large and diverse group of leaders; no one leader perfectly reflects all these qualities.

That said, staying humble and open to change is the most important starting point to attaining agility in leadership and learning. If you can do that, the rest will follow.

Mitchinson, Adam and Robert Morris, Ph.d. “Learning About Learning Agility.” Teachers College, Colombia University, April 2012. http://www.ccl.org/leadership/pdf/research/LearningAgility.pdf

MARGARET SMITH IS A CAREER COACH, AUTHOR, INSIGHTS®DISCOVERY LICENSED PRACTITIONER, FOUNDER OF UXL, AND CO-FOUNDER OF THE TAG TEAM. SHE HOSTS WORKSHOPS FOR PEOPLE WHO NEED CAREER OR PERSONAL GUIDANCE. YOU CAN VISIT HER WEBSITE AT WWW.YOUEXCELNOW.COM

Tags: , , , , ,

%d bloggers like this: