Imagine, as a leader, you have the opportunity to staff your department with your “dream team.” You can choose whomever you want. You can fill it with whatever skills or characteristics you think you’ll need for success. What would you look for?
Would you want people you know well, think like you, and have similar skills?
Or (assuming you’re a wise leader) would you create a diverse team that possesses a wide variety of abilities?
I’d aspire to get a variety of skills on my team, yet there are three characteristics I’d consider to be very important. I’d want each person to be:
- A team player
Of these three characteristics, I believe adaptability is both the rarest and most critical.
Our world is constantly evolving. Circumstances can change instantly (hint, COVID-19), and teams need to know how to be flexible.
Too often, both as individuals and groups, we’re only open to change if we are the “change agent.” It feels good to be the one who gets to create and implement something new.
But when a plan is already in motion, and we discover we’ll need to adapt, most of us resist. We’re comfortable! We like what we’ve created and know what to expect — all of which makes us less flexible.
We hold on to the “status quo” because we’ve invested so much time and energy into it.
That’s a problem because our world rarely stays constant for very long. It’s change, change, and more change.
In Jim Collins’s timeless book, Good to Great, he coined a well-known phrase about getting the right people on the bus. But when he talks about starting with the right people, he didn’t mean just those people with the “optimal skillset.”
He meant adaptable people!
“If people join the bus primarily because of where it’s going, what happens if you get ten miles down the road and you need to change direction? You’ve got a problem. But if people are on the bus because of who else is on the bus, then it’s easier to change direction: Hey, I got on this bus because of who else is on it; if we need to change direction to be more successful, fine with me.”
I recognize the importance of adaptability in others but can struggle with it myself. Those I’ve been around who are the most adaptable can:
- Respond positively when things occur which are outside their control
- Stay calm when confronted by the unexpected
- Deal well with the unknown
I envy their ability to focus on what they can do—what remains within their control. They are not like the rest of us who get frustrated, angry, defensive, and resistant.
In life, we often can’t control what happens, but we do control how we respond.
Don’t be anxious. God’s with you every step of the way. Instead, move forward positively and focus on what’s still within your control.
Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:6-7).