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.
The older and more experienced you get, the more difficult this becomes. Generally speaking, we become less willing over time to change or rework the way we do things, less capable of adapting and adjusting.
The more you know, the less you want to correct your own thinking, in your personal life and in your leadership. You may become inflexible to the point of stubbornness.
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.
Lead from within: As the old adage says, the only constant is change. To succeed as a great leader, it’s up to you to stay adaptable.
N A T I O N A L B E S T S E L L E R
The Leadership Gap: What Gets Between You and Your Greatness
After decades of coaching powerful executives around the world, Lolly Daskal has observed that leaders rise to their positions relying on a specific set of values and traits. But in time, every executive reaches a point when their performance suffers and failure persists. Very few understand why or how to prevent it.
Additional Reading you might enjoy:
- 12 Successful Leadership Principles That Never Grow Old
- A Leadership Manifesto: A Guide To Greatness
- How to Succeed as A New Leader
- 12 of The Most Common Lies Leaders Tell Themselves
- 4 Proven Reasons Why Intuitive Leaders Make Great Leaders
- The One Quality Every Leader Needs To Succeed
- The Deception Trap of Leadership
Photo Credit: iStockPhotos
Of Lolly’s many awards and accolades, Lolly was designated a Top-50 Leadership and Management Expert by Inc. magazine. Huffington Post honored Lolly with the title of The Most Inspiring Woman in the World. Her writing has appeared in HBR, Inc.com, Fast Company (Ask The Expert), Huffington Post, and Psychology Today, and others. Her newest book, The Leadership Gap: What Gets Between You and Your Greatness has become a national bestseller.