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How You Can Productively Aim Your Adaptability Talents

How You Can Productively Aim Your Adaptability Talents

by Albert L. Winseman, D.Min.

Adaptability is a "now" theme that finds deep satisfaction in living in-the-moment. For those with strong Adaptability talents, the future is not a fixed destination; rather, it is created one day at a time and paying attention to the here and now is the best way to be prepared for whatever may come.

Individuals with Adaptability in their Top 5 tend to live by the motto, "If you're handed it, you can handle it" because that is exactly what they do. They are not often fazed or upset with change, but have a sense of calm assurance that they are equipped to handle whatever may come and are extremely adept at "going with the flow." In fact, individuals high in Adaptability view interruptions as the most exciting part of the day because you never know what is going to happen.

Adaptability is primarily a Relationship Building theme because for those with Adaptability, whoever is with them at the moment gets their complete and undivided attention and that is a powerful attribute for building strong relationships.

Adaptability: Helps and Hinders

When coaching those with Adaptability as a Signature Theme, helping them claim both the "helps and hinders" of Adaptability is critical to productive aiming. Some common helps and hinders of Adaptability include:


  • You respond well to competing priorities and immediate demands, which ensures that the information, solutions and work flow will be up-to-date and responsive to the environment.
  • You tend to handle the unexpected with poise and calm -- not much rattles you. This makes you a go-to person in a crisis as others can feel and "borrow" your sense of calm.
  • You can adjust on-the-fly, change direction when it's called for and help others manage change.
  • Your total focus on whoever is with you in the moment makes others feel appreciated, valued and respected.


  • Those who thrive on structure and stability may feel that they are on unsure footing when you change plans to suit the moment. Give them assurances, explain your position -- in short, tell them why.
  • If you are a manager or team leader, your team may feel like you have no direction and may be unsure of what you expect of them or, likewise, what they can expect from you. Set clear expectations -- especially in the midst of change.
  • Because you live in the moment, you may miss deadlines or important performance milestones. Be sure to define timelines, project goals, etc., and enlist the help of a more structure-oriented partner to keep you on track.
  • Your natural instinct is that whatever or whoever is in front of you is your priority. Be sure to clarify job priorities with your supervisor or manager; when you have overall direction you are free to be more flexible in the moment.

Adaptability: Self-Awareness, Self-Expression, Self-Regulation

To productively aim Adaptability talents at a particular goal, an individual must have: 1) good self-awareness about the theme's power, edge and vulnerabilities; 2) an understanding of how this theme finds expression in day-to-day thinking, feeling and behaving; 3) the ability to regulate their Adaptability to maximize the potential positive outcomes that can be achieved through intentionally applying a strengths-based approach. Coaches can help clients with strong Adaptability talents by exploring some the following:


  • The Power and Edge of Adaptability: Individuals with high Adaptability tend to have an uncanny ability to deal with chaos. Rather than get flustered or stressed, they naturally calm down, take stock and move forward. Those strong in Adaptability are likely to naturally put others at ease when the unexpected happens, reassuring them and reassessing the situation. Their calmness and ability to "roll with it" is a powerful quality in the midst of a crisis.
  • The Vulnerabilities of Adaptability: Because they find fulfillment in taking each day as it comes and living in the here and now, those with strong Adaptability talents may not be able to clearly present goals and objectives -- nor may they be particularly able to articulate past processes or connect the past to the present. They may inaccurately be perceived as flighty or not understanding the full scope of the situation. As a coach, you can help clients with Adaptability manage this perception by guiding them in developing questions to ask to connect the past with the present, and the present with the future.


Coaches can assist clients in realizing and claiming the expression of Adaptability by helping them explore past instances when this theme has been particularly useful. To facilitate this exploration, coaches can ask the following questions:

  • Tell me about your best day at work. What made it a great day? (listen for expression of Adaptability)
  • Tell me about a particularly chaotic day at work or at home. How did you cope? What did you do to bring order and calm to the situation?
  • What is recent project of which you are most proud? How did you contribute to the project's success?
  • When an unexpected problem arises at work, how do you handle it? What was the most difficult problem you faced last week and how did you solve it?


Self-Regulation occurs when individuals know which of their talents to use in particular situations, or know which talents to combine to either sharpen or accelerate a specific talent, or to soften that talent. For example, Adaptability's "go-with-the-flow" persona can mistakenly be viewed as not appreciating the importance of planning. It is then that a coach can help the client find other talents they might use instead to keep them focused on performance goals. Coaches can also help clients explore different theme combinations to accelerate or soften their Adaptability. For example:

  • Themes that tend to accelerate or sharpen Adaptability -- i.e., themes that when combined with Adaptability make it an even more "in the moment" theme: Connectedness, Empathy, Relator, Positivity, Harmony, Activator
  • Themes that tend to soften Adaptability -- i.e., themes that make Adaptability less "in the moment": Analytical, Discipline, Focus, Achiever, Maximizer, Strategic

Adaptability: Five Powerful Questions for Productive Aiming

  • How can you break down long-term projects or plans into flexible daily action items?
  • What are you known for on your team or in your organization? What are some ways you can intentionally help others see value in your flexibility?
  • What changes are occurring in your organization or industry? What are some positive insights you can share with your colleagues to help them navigate these changes?
  • Who gives you the feedback you need to let you know you are making a positive difference?
  • What does success look like for you? How do you know you are being successful?

Learn more about using CliftonStrengths to help yourself and others succeed:


Al Winseman's Top 5 CliftonStrengths are Ideation, Futuristic, Maximizer, Strategic and Command.

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