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Adaptability in Leadership: Pivoting Through Change

Updated: Dec 7, 2023

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In an era where change is the only constant, adaptability isn't just a skill; it's a leadership imperative. The ability to pivot and navigate through unexpected challenges is what distinguishes trailblazing leaders from the rest. This week let's delve deep into the transformative power of adaptability in leadership and how it shapes success in our ever-evolving world.

Understanding Adaptability: Adaptability is the capacity to adjust to new conditions and to modify one's approach based on evolving circumstances. For leaders, it's about embracing change proactively, viewing challenges as opportunities, and guiding their teams through unfamiliar terrains with confidence.

Why Adaptability is Crucial for Leaders:

  1. Navigating Uncertainty: In today's volatile world, leaders are often faced with unpredictable challenges. As we remember, many businesses faltered during and post-Covid, partly due to challenges pivoting to an online model. While certain sectors struggled outside the brick-and-mortar paradigm, adaptable leaders swiftly recalibrated, innovating new industries from their existing real estate. Being adaptable ensures leaders can make swift, informed decisions amidst uncertainty.

  2. Embracing Innovation: An adaptable leader is open to new ideas and is willing to adjust strategies or processes to foster innovation. Using the Covid-19 pandemic example, industries across the globe were forced to innovate, adapt, or perish. Here's how some industries evolved post-Covid:


Telemedicine became a primary mode of consultation, reducing the need for physical visits.

Development and global distribution of vaccines in record time showcased the industry's adaptability and collaborative spirit.


E-commerce surged as consumers shifted to online shopping. Retailers enhanced their digital platforms and focused on improving delivery infrastructure.

Curbside pickups and contactless deliveries became the norm.

  1. Building Resilience: Adaptability fosters a resilient mindset, enabling leaders and their teams to bounce back from setbacks more effectively. Leaders who embrace the mindset of failing and falling forward are the ones who will be able to rebound quickly.

  2. Future-Proofing: Leaders who are adaptable are better equipped to anticipate future challenges and opportunities, ensuring their organizations stay ahead of the curve. We never know when we may have to face another world-wide crisis.

Traits of Adaptable Leaders:

  • Continuous Learning: They recognize the value of continuous growth and are always eager to learn from experiences, feedback, and even failures.

  • Emotional Intelligence: They possess the EQ to understand and manage their emotions and those of their team during change. (Read our previous blog on EQ here)

  • Solution-Oriented Mindset: Instead of focusing on problems, they seek solutions and opportunities that arise from change.

Cultivating Adaptability – Strategies for Leaders:

  1. Stay Alert: Foster a mindset of curiosity. Encourage questions, exploration, and experimentation. Be open-minded.

  2. Embrace Feedback: Welcome feedback as a tool for growth, and understanding where adjustments are needed. Create an effective feedback loop in your organization.

  3. Build Diverse Teams: Diverse teams bring a plethora of perspectives, making it easier to adapt to various challenges. DEI is not a fad or a check-box item. There is a business case for diversity.

  4. Engage in Scenario Planning: Consistently anticipate various scenarios and plan optimal responses, much like schools conduct regular drills, preparing for the unforeseen need for swift action.

Closing Thoughts: The leadership journey in our fast-paced world is not a straight path but a winding road, filled with unexpected turns. Embracing adaptability ensures you not only navigate these turns but also leverage them for growth and success. As you build your leadership legacy, remember: that the ability to pivot gracefully is your compass in the unpredictable voyage of leadership.

About the Author Sharon Gill is the Principal of Sharon Gill International, a purpose-centered leadership development company helping executives and managers to lead their best. As an executive leadership coach, I combine a unique blend of corporate experience and faith-based insights. I help leaders not only excel in their professional roles but also align their leadership style with deeper values and beliefs. If you’re seeking purpose-driven leadership that merges success with spiritual growth, DM me on LinkedIn or send me an email at

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