How To Apply CliftonStrengths Adaptability At Work

StrengthsFinder Definition - Adaptability

Often people will ask us, "What does it mean to have the Adaptability Strength?" First, know that StrengthsFinder will help you figure out your potential. We call them natural talents or natural patterns. We know you're here because you want to turn them into superpowers in your career, so here's the gist: People exceptionally talented in the Adaptability theme prefer to go with the flow. They tend to be “now” people who take things as they come and discover the future one day at a time. Here's the full list of CliftonStrengths definitions so you can check out your other talents as well.

Gallup®, Clifton StrengthsFinder®, StrengthsFinder®, and each of the 34 Clifton StrengthsFinder theme names are trademarks of Gallup, Inc.

CliftonStrengths Adaptability - Learn All About It

These 10-15 minute "Theme Overview" videos give you a peek into the awesomeness of your talent theme. They also explore the idea that talent themes represent potential, yet if they are not invested in, they might show up looking raw and unproductive at work.
These “Talent Deep Dive” videos explore the nuance of each talent theme. You’ll learn about its power and edge. You’ll consider potential blind spots. These are useful videos if you have this talent theme at the top of your list, or if you want to learn about a teammate who leads through Adaptability.

These Career Branding links help you apply your talents to your career. They give you examples of things you might be known for to help your personal branding at work. They also offer some watch-outs to know what situations and cultures can zap your energy.

Your Strengths Will Strengthen Your Performance At Work

In the next section, you'll explore what fuels you up and what drains you. Just like gas (or petrol) in your car, you need to keep your personal tank full to be at your best. Each StrengthsFinder talent theme is energized and drained by different things. When you see the stick figure who looks strong, you can consider how these things fuel you up at work. They're your energy makers. When you see the stick figure who looks weak, consider if these things are draining you at work. They're your energy takers.

Yucks for CliftonStrengths Adaptability

What's a Yuck?

It's a situation, condition, or behavior you might see at work that zaps your energy. Yucks are also things you see on your calendar or to-do list that make you think, "Yuck, if I never had to do that again I'd be thrilled."

Yuck Situations for Adaptability

  • Predictability and routine at work will likely bore you to tears
  • Stagnation or mundane work is not fun when you lead through Adaptability because you draw excitement from changes in the moment

Yays for CliftonStrengths Adaptability

What's a Yay?

It's a situation at work that boosts up your energy or makes you feel productive. Yays are also things you see on your calendar or to-do list that make you think, “Yay, fill my days with this."

Yay Situations for Adaptability

  • You'll likely have a fun workday when you can take immediate action and work "on the fly"
  • Unexpected detours are energizing when you lead through Adaptability because you revel in change

How CliftonStrengths Adaptability Can Be Perceived When Starved

What's a Starved Talent?

This section describes how you might be perceived when the shadow side of your talent is showing. It’s when you’re overusing, misapplying, or squashing one of your natural talents rather than turning it into a strength. We often see people starve, squash, or ignore their talent when they assume it is not valued in that role or company culture.

Perceptions of Starved Adaptability

  • People can perceive you as directionless if they don't see why you're always doing the next new thing. It can look like your priorities are all over the place.
  • If you jump on every change bandwagon, people might view you as an indiscriminate "Yes man." Be sure to vet new initiatives, and be prepared to share rationale to doubters.

How CliftonStrengths Adaptability Can Be Perceived When Fed

What's a Fed Talent?

This section describes how you might be perceived when the best version of you shows up at work. It’s when you’ve invested in your natural talents to mature them into strengths. You can feed your talent by considering “how” you approach each “what” on the job. When you apply your talents to productive outcomes, you’re feeding them.

Perceptions of Fed Adaptability

  • At your best, you're fully present and in this moment. There is no tomorrow. There is no yesterday. There is only right now. Your attention makes others feel important.
  • You're likely great at flowing with the needs of the business. You're a change agent for the team because you model  that there's an upside to supporting the change.

Situations That Make CliftonStrengths Adaptability Feel Insulted

What's An Insulted Talent?

Usually, talents get offended or insulted by other people who have natural preferences that are different from yours. It also happens if they fail to see their actions have an impact on someone else (you!). You can also insult your own talents if you have a "troublemaker strength" that speaks loudly and overpowers this one.

Things That Will Insult Adaptability

  • Same old, same old
  • Rehashing the past

If your company is heavily focused on the past or the future, keep a close eye on those who lead with Adaptability. The inability to be in the moment will be extremely frustrating to them. They get satisfaction by reacting to the here-and-now, so every rehashing of the past can feel like an anchor in the water when they're trying to drive a speedboat.

Situations That Make CliftonStrengths Adaptability Feel Honored

What's An Honored Talent?

Usually, talents feel honored when other people acknowledge your needs and potential contributions. Talents feel honored when someone “extends an olive branch” to help you work at your best. You can also honor your own talents by investing in them, by choosing work that naturally calls on them, or by applying your strengths to performance on the job.

Things That Will Honor Adaptability

  • Urgent pressures to address
  • Every day different from the last

To unleash the A-game of someone who leads through the Adaptability talent, give the person the challenge of managing change that involves the buy-in of other people. They make people feel seen and heard during changes that are difficult for people to adopt. Give them the opportunity to be a change agent for your team during the unexpected situations that inevitably pop up in the middle of new initiatives.

Personal Brand - 'How' CliftonStrengths Adaptability Operates At Work

Most people have a good handle on "What" they bring to the workplace. Resumes, CVs, and career development conversations are filled with lists of skills and job titles that show "what" you can do. Nearly everyone misses the "How".

Your Clifton StrengthsFinder talent themes help you communicate "How" you show up. It's how you think. It's how you feel. It's how you act. These are huge differences in each person that are differentiators on the job. Consider these adjectives you might want to consciously put into your personal branding efforts.

We recommend working a "How" description into the Summary section in your LinkedIn profile (if you don't yet use that section, don't worry, most people haven't paid attention to it until now). Of course, make up adjectives or phrases that describe you at your best. Try to avoid words like "motivated, self-starter" because they're so overused that you'll blend in with everyone else. Here are some ideas to spark your thinking:

  • Early Adopter
  • Go With The Flow
  • Spontaneous
  • Responsive
  • Calm
  • Reassuring
  • Mindful
  • Present
  • Easygoing
  • Adaptable
  • First Responder
  • Flexible
  • Agreeable
  • Accommodating
  • In The Moment
  • Thrives Under Pressure
  • Right-Here-Right-Now
  • Enjoys Change

How To Invest In CliftonStrengths Adaptability Talent On The Job

  • Avoid career choices that require structure and predictability. These roles will frustrate you, make you feel inadequate, and stifle your independence. Look for jobs with constantly changing circumstances.
  • You can invest by fine-tuning your responsiveness. For example, if your job demands unanticipated travel, learn how to pack and leave in 30 minutes. If your work pressure comes in unpredictable spurts, practice the first three steps you'll make when the pressure hits.
  • Nurture your reputation as a calm and reassuring person when others become upset by daily events. During high pressure moments, help your colleagues find productive ways to relieve stress and make progress. You can be the spark that moves them to acceptance and interest in the new way.
  • Own your spontaneity. Let others see how many experiences might be missed if they don’t seize the moment while it's in front of them. When you do need planning, partner with those who enjoy it. For example, the talent themes of Focus, Strategic, or Discipline can help you shape your longer-term goals and action steps.

Tips For Managing Someone Who Leads Through The CliftonStrengths Adaptability Talent

  • This person lives to react and respond. Make success depend on this person's ability to accommodate the unforeseen and then run with solutions in the moment. When balls get dropped (even by others), you won't see this person sulking on the sidelines. You'll see productive progress.
  • Let the person know about the visioning and planning you're doing, yet don’t expect them to enjoy the process during those meetings. People who lead through Adaptability often find planning work boring, and they'll find meetings about the long-term future irrelevant. They are all about right now. Consider letting this person opt out of the "sausage making" and brainstorming meetings on those topics.
  • Check out the other dominant talent themes in this person's lineup. If you see Empathy, Individualization, or Connectedness, you might put them in a role where they have to be keen to varied needs of customers and accommodate them on the fly.
  • Look for shorter-term assignments that require immediate action. This person will thrive in lots of new moments rather than long, drawn-out projects and initiatives.

What To Consider When Partnering With a Colleague Who Leads Through CliftonStrengths Adaptability 

  • Ask this person to partner with you when you need to be in the moment - working out a change that is happening right here, right now.

  • When your team is taking on work that is experimental or discovery-oriented, this person will be great at leading the way and rolling with whatever you uncover.

  • Call on them when you need to respond to constantly-differing requests of customers, guests, patients, etc. Don’t ask them to work with you on a project where they’ll be required to follow the same operating procedures every day (or lots of rules and controls).

Turn CliftonStrengths Adaptability Into A Strength This Month By Making It Your Phone Lock Screen

Adaptability Talent Theme LockscreenClick on this thumbnail image of your StrengthsFinder talent theme to link to the full size image. Then save it to your phone or mobile device as your lock screen.

That way, you’ll be reminded of your plan to focus on that talent…oh…about 98 times per day when you unlock your phone. What a great way to keep your intention front-of-mind! This will help you remember to invest in this talent theme so you can take the untapped potential and turn the natural talent into a strength.

Who knew wallpaper images could be so valuable to your career?! Here are all of the lock screen images if you want to grab an image for a different CliftonStrengths talent.

Gallup®, Clifton StrengthsFinder®, StrengthsFinder®, and each of the 34 Clifton StrengthsFinder theme names are trademarks of Gallup, Inc.

Take The 12-Week Strengths Challenge

Get stronger performance at work by using your strengths. The challenge is free. You'll get one email per week for the next 12 weeks with a simple question to uncover more of your hidden potential. If you can get your whole team to join along, you'll get crazy-cool insights about each other.

Note: if you're on this page because you're taking one of our strengths classes, you might also be getting an "Activation Course" with that program. This is a heads-up that signing up for this challenge would give you 2 strengths emails per week if you're already slated for the "Activation Course."

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