Adaptability Strength: Get Known For Your Talent

I hear a lot of reflections about how to apply your CliftonStrengths talent theme of Adaptability to your career.

In this series, you get one strength per post so that you can add to the insights from your StrengthsFinder report and make an even stronger alignment between your current job and your strengths.

- If you’re exploring this concept as a manager, use this series for career development ideas and even new clues about responsibilities you could give a person with this talent theme so that they can show up at their best.

- If you’re exploring this concept for yourself, use this as a chance to build a reputation for your strengths so that you’re more likely to be given assignments that live in your strengths zone.

You’ll get three layers to chew on:

1. Career Branding
2. Red Flag Situations At Work
3. Fresh Application Ideas

Career Branding For The Adaptability Strength

You probably already have a reputation for what you know. Think about your personal resume, CV, or your LinkedIn profile, I bet it's full of “the what,” which are things like job titles, skills, knowledge, expertise, or the degree you earned. What’s missing is usually "the how,” and this is where your StrengthsFinder talent themes live.

Chances are good that you are a lot like my StrengthsFinder training clients, where you don’t physically see your teammates and customers every day. So many of us work on remote teams. That’s why LinkedIn has become so important for career branding. It’s how your teammates, customers, and vendors go look you up before a meeting - to see who they’re about to talk to. And rather than only telling them what you know, you should also give them a peek at how it is to work with you.

Here are a bunch of adjectives to consider using in your career branding efforts and your LinkedIn profile when you lead through the Adaptability strength:

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

Red Flag Situations When You Lead With The Adaptability Strength

These are the cultures, interactions, or situations that might feel like soul-sucking drudgery to someone with the talent theme of Adaptability. They could even make you want to quit the team if they get really bad. So I’ll give you a couple of these to be on watch for — because if they fester, you might become detached or disengaged at work.

Here are a couple of Red flags for the Adaptability strength (talent theme):

  1. Old Faithful. Just in case you’re not familiar, Old Faithful is a natural geyser. It sprays 100 ft in the air. It happens over and over again - over a dozen times a day. It’s in Yellowstone National Park, where Wyoming, Montana, and Idaho come together. If you lead through the Adaptability strength, you might like to see Old Faithful, but you wouldn’t want to be Old Faithful. Mundane work, predictability and routine will likely bore you to tears. Repetitive work is not fun when you lead through Adaptability because you draw excitement from changes in the moment. Here’s a coping strategy: if you’re in a role where you do something similar over and over, search for the unique surprise inside of it. For example, if you do customer inquiries over and over, focus on the element that makes this person’s question unique. Focus on being fully present with the other person. Those two elements (the change/surprise part, and the right-here-right-now part) can help you find threads of motivation.
  2. Rich in tradition. Many companies are proud to represent years of tradition and history. If your company is heavily focused on the past, it might feel like stagnation to someone who leads through Adaptability. The stuck feeling of “same old, same old” can be frustrating for Adaptability. Even if you work for a cutting edge company that puts a heavy emphasis on lessons-learned meetings or post mortem processes, you might still feel the drain of not being able to live in the here-and-now. Every rehashing of the past can feel like an anchor in the water when you’re trying to drive a speedboat.

3 Fresh Application Ideas For The Adaptability Strength

These are ways to apply the talent theme of Adaptability at work, even when the job duties on the team feel pretty locked in. If you’re exploring this concept as a team manager, be sure to have a conversation around these ideas. You’ll both be able to come up with places to apply them.

For someone who leads through the Adaptability strength, put this talent to good use with one of these options:

  1. Unexpected Detours. If you manage someone who leads through Adaptability, they revel in change. They’ll likely have a fun work day when they can take immediate action and work things out "on the fly." They make people feel seen and heard during changes that are difficult for people to adopt. So pull them in to help you implement change that involves the buy-in of other people. When balls get dropped (even by others), you won't see this person sulking on the sidelines. You'll see productive progress. So next time you have unexpected changes at work or in your industry, think of people on your team who lead through Adaptability. Their ability to be amiable to change (on both the people and process side) can be a huge help to the team.
  2. Urgent Pressures. If your team works under urgent pressures, surprises, and emergencies, think of those who lead through Adaptability. Challenge them to fine-tune their responsiveness. For example, if the job demands unanticipated travel, see if they can learn to pack and leave in under 30 minutes. Also take advantage of their demeanor as a calm and reassuring person. When other teammates are upset by daily events, someone with the Adaptability talent can often help the team find productive ways to relieve stress and make progress. They can have the influence that moves teammates to acceptance rather than resistance.
  3. Never The Same Day Twice. Avoid assigning work that requires structure and predictability from someone who leads through Adaptability. As much as you can, avoid asking them to work on a project where they’re required to follow the same operating procedures every day (or where there are lots of rules and controls). These responsibilities will be frustrating. Look for projects or roles with constantly changing circumstances. Call on them when you need to respond to constantly-differing requests of customers, guests, patients, etc.

Here's Your Personal Branding Homework For The Adaptability Strength

  1. Go take action on your LinkedIn profile with the career branding section. Challenge yourself to write one sentence in the About section of LinkedIn that captures how you collaborate as a teammate at work.
  2. Then think over the red flags to see if there’s anything you need to get in front of before it brings you down. You might decide to make the situation mean something different, or pre-plan a reaction for the next time it comes around.
  3. Volunteer your talents through the application ideas. If you’re a manager, have a conversation with your team members about which of these things sound like something they’d love to have more of.
  4. Dig into the Adaptability strength all the way. You can really nerd out on the nuances on the Adaptability Talent Theme Page.

 

Here's A Full Transcript Of The 14 Minute Episode

You're listening to Lead Through Strengths, where you'll learn to apply your greatest strengths at work. My name is Lisa Cummings and I gotta tell you, it's hard to find something more energizing than using your natural talent every day at work. Today, I hear a lot of enthusiasm about how to align your CliftonStrengths talent theme of Adaptability with your actual job.

So, in the series, you're going to get one strength broken down per episode, so that you can add to the insights that you already got out of the CliftonStrengths report, and make an even tighter match between your job and your natural talents.

Now, if you're listening to this in a manager role, use this series for career development ideas. You can even get some clues about responsibilities that you could give a person with this talent theme so that they can show up in their best, especially in the application section.

Now, if you're listening for yourself because you lead through the talent theme of Adaptability, use this as a chance to build a reputation that is based on your strengths so that you're more likely to get assignments that live in your strength zone. Cool thought, huh?

So today, the talent theme of the episode, as you've already heard is Adaptability. And you'll get three layers to think about: career branding, red flag situations at work, and application ideas.

So, let's start with the career branding part. Now you already have a reputation and likely that reputation is based on what you know. Think about your personal resume or your CV or your LinkedIn profile. It's probably full of what I would call the ‘what’. These are things like job titles, skills, knowledge, what you know, what you've done in the past, what experiences you have, what degrees you've earned. What's missing is almost always the ‘how’. And the how part well, this is where your CliftonStrengths talent themes actually live. The ‘how’ tells people what it's like to work with you, how you think, how you interact, how you make decisions, how you get things done. Imagine how great it would be if you got known for those ways of working, and those ways happen to feel really easy to you and they're enjoyable to you.

So, here are a bunch of adjectives to consider using in your career branding efforts.

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

So, pick one of those that really resonated with you, something that you thought, “Oh yeah, that totally sounds like me”, and, “I would love to get known for that.”. Pick that one and then just make a goal of using that. Literally using it in your conversations, using it through your intentions and your actions this month, and put it on your profile and LinkedIn or your resume, etc. The more you use it, the more you're going to get known for it.

Let's move to the red flag situations for Adaptability. Now, these are the cultures, the interactions, the situations that really could feel like soul-sucking drudgery to you. If you lead through the talent theme of Adaptability, these are the kind of things that at their worst could make you want to quit a team. But normally, they're more sneaky than that. They're just frustrations that can add up and give you the urge to detach at work or feel very drained, but not really understand why.

So here are two for Adaptability. One, I call it Old Faithful. Now just in case you're not familiar, Old Faithful is a natural geyser. And it's this thing, it sprays 100 feet in the air. And it happens over and over again a dozen times a day in the Yellowstone National Park where Wyoming, Montana and Idaho all come together.

Now if you lead through Adaptability, you might like to see Old Faithful. You could be excited to be part of it but you wouldn't want to be Old Faithful. Same thing goes at work. You might like to see the consistency around you, you can appreciate it, but you don't want to be that predictable, stable, mundane, routine kind of work. Because if you lead through Adaptability, it will bore you to tears. Repetitive work isn't fun for you if you lead through Adaptability, because you draw excitement from changes and being in the moment. So, a coping strategy for you because sometimes you're in a role where you do something similar over and over and you don't have the choice to not do that. So, if this applies to you, then search for a unique surprise inside of that task.

So, for example, if you do customer inquiries, and you're taking those phone calls or answering those emails over and over again, instead of focusing on the over and over again part, focus on the element that makes that person's question unique. Focus on being fully present right here, right now with the other person. Those are the two elements, the change surprise part and the right here right now part that can help someone with the Adaptability talent theme really find threads of motivation and interest.

Okay, the second red flag is what I would call rich in tradition. Many companies are proud to represent things like tradition and history. They'll do this in their corporate branding. They'll talk about it internally. Now, if your company is heavily focused on the past, it actually might feel like stagnation to one who leads through Adaptability. There's a stuck feeling of ‘same old same old’ that comes along when you have the Adaptability talent theme that can be really frustrating for you.

So, even if you work for a cutting-edge company, and they are not rooted in the past in terms of traditions, but it's more like they look to the past for a lot of lessons learned meetings or let's say, post mortems or post mortem processes or a heavy part of the company culture, even then you might still feel that drain of not being able to live in the here and now, because you feel like you're having to rehash the past. And if you lead through Adaptability, having to keep rehashing the past, it feels like you have an anchor in the water and you're trying to drive a speedboat, and it's pulling you back to the past, and it's not a desirable feeling for you. So, definitely a red flag to watch out for.

And then when you see that red flag happening for you, just think carefully about coping strategies. How could you turn that thing around to lead through your strengths instead? How could you shape your job to move away from that in the future?

Now let's move to some fresh application ideas for Adaptability. So, these are ways to apply the talent theme of Adaptability at work, even when the job duties on the team feel pretty locked in. Maybe even if they feel homogenous and everyone has to do something sort of similar, this is especially written for you if you are a team manager, because this is a great way to think of ways to assign projects and tasks to people on the team.

But still be sure to have a conversation around these ideas because the person on your team, your team member who leads through Adaptability, they will be able to help you, one, affirm that these are relevant to them but depending on what it's combined with, they may or may not share these preferences as strongly, and also they're going to help you come up with places to apply these. Okay, so I'm going to phrase these as though you're listening as a manager, and you're coming up with application ideas.

The first, unexpected detours. So, if you have managed someone who leads through Adaptability, they're going to revel in change. They have fun at work when they can take fast action. And when you need something done immediately, or you need someone to work something out on the fly, that's actually really fun for someone who leads through Adaptability.

On the people side, they make people feel seen and heard during changes. And this can be great. If you have a change, it's difficult for others on the team to adopt. You can use them in that way. Pull them in to help you implement change and get the buy in from other people. It's a very human skill, or talent, even though Adaptability sounds like it's all about being a flexible person related to tasks and responsibilities.

It's actually categorized as a relationship theme because of how they can be so amiable to the change. On that topic of unexpected detours, sometimes you get those when balls are dropped. Even if it's somebody else on the team who dropped the ball, or a customer dropped the ball or a vendor dropped the ball, you're still not going to see this person soaking on the sidelines. You're going to see productive progress.

So next time you have some of those unexpected changes at work, or even unexpected changes in your industry, think of people on your team who lead through Adaptability, because their ability to be amiable to the change both on the people and process side can be a huge help to the team.

The second one for application, I call this one, urgent pressures. So, if your team works under urgent pressures all the time, like a team that just is designed to deal with surprises or emergencies, really think of a person who leads through Adaptability. And it could be fun for you to challenge them to fine tune their responsiveness engine because they already love being responsive and are great at being responsive. So, imagine, let's say the job is calling on a person on the team to do unexpected travel. Now it's not anticipated so it's not like they have this on their calendar or on the radar for the last week. But you know, this is a pattern and it's something that's going to keep happening. See, if you can have that person learn to pack and leave in under 30 minutes. It's one of those, take the responsiveness they already have, and challenge them to amp it up even further.

The other thing that you can do with these urgent pressures, is just take advantage of their demeanor. See, they're calm, they're reassuring, and when you imagine other teammates, they get upset by this sort of stuff. Someone with Adaptability talent theme, can often help the team find productive ways to do stuff like relieve stress, make progress in the face of stress. So, they can really be influential in a way that moves teammates to the acceptance phase, rather than spending that emotional energy on resisting. So, this can be a great person to call on, when you're in an environment of urgent pressures, or one of those, you know, times it's kind of like intervals.

Sometimes things are calm for a while, but you know, you have a busy season at work, that's when all the urgent pressures are going to pop-up. Have a special conversation with someone who leads through Adaptability to be a leader during that time.

Okay, number three, never the same day twice. So, if you lead someone on the team who leads through Adaptability, try to avoid assigning them work that requires a lot of structure or requires a lot of predictability. As much as you can, avoid asking them to work on the projects where they're required to follow the same operating procedures every day, or to be in one of those situations where they have to live under a lot of rules and controls. Because those responsibilities will be really frustrating for them.

Instead, look for the projects or the roles where the circumstances are constantly changing. Call on them when you need someone who can respond to constantly differing requests. Maybe you have customers or you have guests or you have patients but you have something that's constantly different, and you need someone who is comfortable with never really getting into a flow of the same old thing.

It's fun to imagine this because you can imagine applying this to a handful of people on your team. And almost instantly, you'll think of a handful of people who love the predictability, love to become masters of something so they want to do it over and over again. And then on the flip side, you have people who lead through Adaptability, who don't want that long-term, consistent, steady, mastery sort of thing. They want the newness, they want the freshness. So, use that to your advantage. You likely have both of those types of people on your team and applying that specifically to someone who leads through Adaptability can be lots of fun for them, and can be a savior to those who lead through other talent themes like consistency, where they would prefer to have the stability.

Okay, so here's the homework for this one. Number one, if you lead through Adaptability, go take action on career branding. Challenge yourself to write just one sentence in the summary section of LinkedIn. It's actually called the About section now and say something that captures how you collaborate as a teammate at work. Remember, LinkedIn is not just a thing to go get a new job, it is a place where your customers, your vendors and your teammates look you up to learn more about you. So why not seed it with some of your superpowers.

Number two homework, think over the red flags. See if there's anything you need to get in front of before it brings you down.

And then finally, number three, volunteer your talents through those application ideas. If you're a manager, have a conversation with your team member about applying those. If you lead through this talent yourself, think about how you could volunteer those talents and those situations that I brought up in the application section.

With that, I'm your host Lisa Cummings from Lead Through Strengths. If you're thinking about doing a virtual or in-person event to kick-off your strengths-based culture, head over to leadthroughstrengths.com/training . See if our current offerings are a good fit for you.

Until next time. Thanks for being part of this powerful strengths movement that helps people unleash the awesomeness they already have inside them.

About Deena Silverman

Deena Silverman is the Director of Customer Experience at Lead Through Strengths, where she helps teams improve their productivity by focusing on their natural talents. Deena helps leaders pull off seamless strengths-based events that change the culture of their company. One of her greatest joys is studying human behavior and helping others achieve their goals. When she's not using her organizational strengths to create awesome events, you can find her running around with her two special boys and her unique dog, Ranger. Or she might be hunting for Gary, her repeat-escapee hamster with a top talent of persistence. Her Top 5 StrengthsFinder Talents are: Individualization | Achiever | Learner | Input | Activator.