To be a great leader you need this one leadership trait, to be successful, you have to be able to have an open, adaptive mind—you must be able to adjust, readjust, and reshape your thinking and opinions. You need the ability to look at each circumstance, each person and each venture as an opportunity to do better, learn more and succeed in a way that exceeds your past successes.
Great leadership demands, however, that you remain an adaptive leader. Here are some proven ways you can stay open, flexible and agile in your actions and thinking:
Learn more than you know. Once they get to a certain level, many leaders think they’ve made it and they don’t have much more to learn. But speaking as a coach, I have to say that cultivating ignorance is a great way to shortchange own development as a leader. Deep, broad learning habits are among the defining characteristics of our greatest leaders. Lifelong learning helps you catalyze insight, innovation, empathy and personal effectiveness. Adaptability to change is itself a hallmark of successful, and ongoing, education.
Listen more than you speak. In other words, become a great listener. Don’t interrupt until the other person has finished what they are saying; maybe even respond with a question rather than a statement.
Share more than you suppress.Transparency in communication is imperative. Many old-school leaders believe that sharing too much information with their team is unwise, but the new thinking in leadership is to share what you know and speak with full transparency. When information is suppressed, people become suspicious.
Give more than you take. It’s important as a leader to give more than you take—to invest in your people, support them and provide them with whatever they need. Again, some would disagree, saying you shouldn’t have to invest too much in your people, but adaptive leaders know that investing in their people has great dividends.
Read more than you watch. Leaders are readers. And the more you read, the more you know that binge-watching TV or spending hours on your computer won’t make you smarter, only more numb. Reading will challenge you. If you’re a leader, you should be working to always improve yourself, your company and the people who work for you. To do anything less is to shortchange your own ability to lead.
Show more than you conceal. Be the leader who shows up—who doesn’t hide behind closed doors and conceal what they do and how they do it. Adaptability is being able to adjust to any situation at any given time. People need to see you model that behavior so they can emulate and be inspired by you.
Enjoying success requires the ability to adapt. Only by being open to change will you have a true opportunity to get the most from your leadership.
For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.
For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.
I can’t change the direction of the wind, but I can adjust my sails to always reach my destination.
I truly believe that everything that we do and everyone that we meet is put in our path for a purpose. There are no accidents; we’re all teachers – if we’re willing to pay attention to the lessons we learn, trust our positive instincts and not be afraid to take risks or wait for some miracle to come knocking at our door.
Do the difficult things while they are easy and do the great things while they are small. A journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step.
Leaders Leading Leaders
A Job Interview Test
A company announced a job opening for the position of a telegraph operator. Two days after, ten applicants were waiting in the large, noisy hall in front of the personnel manager’s office for a job interview.
A young man was among them. Like the others, he filled out a form that he was given and sat down to wait. He saw secretaries and clerks coming and going and heard a telegraph clacking away in the background.
A couple of minutes later, this man stood up, crossed the room and walked to the door of the manager’s office. He knocked on the door, then walked right in.
The other applicants were shocked by his rude attitude. They talked among themselves, all agreeing that this man would be definitely disqualified even before his interview started. Ten minutes passed and the man came out of the office, escorted by the personnel manager, who announced:
“Thank you for coming. The position has just been filled.”
The applicants were confused and one man spoke up, “Sir, we don’t understand this. All of us have been waiting much longer than him, yet we never had a chance of an interview.”
The manager replied “Yes, indeed, all of you have been sitting here for more than an hour. All this time, the telegraph has been ticking out one message: “Dear applicant, come right in so we can start the interview.”