Five Keys to Adaptable Leadership – Staying Relevant in a Changing Market

The COVID Pandemic created many bad memories for everyone. We did, however, learn some valuable lessons. At the top of that list is remaining relevant. Adaptability is essential to successful leadership and growth, more so today than ever. Many companies struggled through the COVID-19 pandemic, while others found opportunities to thrive. So, what did the second set of those businesses do that the first missed? How were they able to come out on top or relatively unscathed in such a difficult time? Luck? Maybe a little. But more likely, these business leaders were able to pivot in their approach by embracing one or more of the following tips. The Roman philosopher Seneca said, “Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity.”

Even with the pandemic letting up, the market is and will constantly be changing. You never know when the next significant shift might occur. Set up protocols now that support flexibility and thereby prepare for the future. Here are five keys for your consideration.

Looking good in grey

Moving from black and white, clean lines, ideas, and processes to muddled and grey options will quickly pull you from your comfort zone. In an environment filled with uncertainty, it’s a natural inclination to build a protective shell and stick to what you know; why complicate an already complicated situation? The “tried and trues” haven’t failed you yet! But it’s these times when ingenuity and innovative thinking are the most important. So learn to live in that grey, trust me—it will look good on you! 

Think of the businesses in the early months of COVID-19 that were quick to adapt to remote operations or were otherwise able to find a niche for themselves. Vodka distilleries started making hand sanitizer, clothing boutiques started making masks, printing businesses started making fake audience cutouts for sports games, the creative juices were flowing. Make innovative thinking a priority for your approach strategy and embrace the grey.

How might you do this? One idea, hold a brainstorming session or an all-staff “Think Tank.” Ask for suggestions or ideas from those you might not otherwise ask. Foster an environment where every member of your team can feel empowered to give honest feedback and ideas. You might even find a new shining star hiding there in the grey dust. 

Risk the Mistakes

Innovation and creativity aren’t foolproof—not every approach you try will necessarily be a raging success. But that’s what being adaptable is all about. After all, the only way to avoid mistakes is to do nothing. Reality check – It’s not like mistakes don’t happen in “normal” times too!  As Elon Musk has said, “If something’s important enough, you should try. Even if the probable outcome is a failure.” Give your team the freedom to explore new ideas, even if the possible result is uncertain and scary (within reason). Unless the risk exposure is incredibly detrimental, trying a new approach or idea can either improve your business or simply leave you where you started—with some massive learnings and takeaways for the future. 

Don’t shy away from leaning on other business leaders for support and advice, as you can likely glean valuable lessons from their experiences, both positive and negative. A Facebook group like Soaring Successes could be a beneficial outlet for feedback and group sharing. 

Birds Eye View

Keep an eye on the landscape of your business, watch for things like supplier, competitor, market changes or socioeconomic/political shifts. One trick is to set up Google Alerts on your email to quickly flag news updates relevant to your business and stay abreast without a ton of legwork. Additionally, are you on your competitor’s marketing emails? Do you check in on their social media or website from time to time to have a sense of any changes? 

How about your staff? You also want to keep your finger on the pulse of your team’s health and well-being (looking out for signs of burnout). Do you have checks in place to ensure that burnout is not a risk to your team? 

These are some critical questions to ask yourself, and the answers may warrant some quick pivots to ensure productivity and growth in a time of change. 

An Eye on Your “Why”

It’s always helpful to point your team—and yourself—back to your mission. It’s that mission that will center you and bring you purpose no matter what the state of the market is. Through adversity, good quarters, bad quarters, pandemics, increased competition, sudden staffing changes, market downturns, and more, you and your team share a similar passion and drive towards this ultimate goal. Keeping your “why” front and center in any decision you make is essential and will help keep you focused when moving your business forward, especially into uncharted territories. 

Missional changes are monumental and affect all levels and facets of an organization. Of course, you can revise them, but that is a consideration in and of itself. In general, no matter what changes, your mission will remain constant. Consider exploring creative ways to infuse this into your company culture. Remind your team what you are working towards, engage and reinvigorate creativity with this in mind. 

Professional Development & Learning

When environments start changing, it often feels like the time to start cutting costs—both time and money, and often the first to go is professional development. But in uncertain times, it’s more important than ever to invest in yourself and your team. There are options for every preference, like learning modules and webinars, business development books, business and leadership coaching, seminars, and podcasts. A leadership coach can work with you to develop an adaptable business plan customized for your business goals and mission. Your coach will also help you to expand your skill sets and stay informed of updating trends. Consider surveying your team to see what areas they are most interested in learning more about and growing in. Cross-training is a great option to explore as well, as you never want a sudden staff departure to leave your remaining team reeling. 

You aren’t or don’t have to be alone

If you’re looking for additional support and mentorship on improving your adaptability as a business leader, consider exploring a complementary business diagnostics or leadership coaching session with a professional business coach for entrepreneurs. 

About Eagles’ Wings Business Coaching

Eagles’ Wings Business Coaching offers personalized business coaching with a licensed coach for small business owners and entrepreneurs across the United States looking to improve and grow your company.