skip to main content
Called to Coach
Adaptability®: Developing Your Leadership Skills
Called to Coach

Adaptability®: Developing Your Leadership Skills

Webcast Details

  • Gallup CliftonStrengths Podcast, Season 2: Adaptability
  • What is the power of Adaptability in a leadership role?
  • How could Adaptability help or hinder you in leading others?

Below are audio and video plus a transcript of the conversation, including time stamps.


Explore Gallup's CliftonStrengths® for Leaders Report and discover its ability to help you maximize the impact of your -- and others' -- unique leadership talents and strengths, in this Season 2 episode of The CliftonStrengths Podcast. Join Jim Collison and Dr. Jaclynn Robinson as they discuss the Adaptability® theme, its power in a leadership role, how it can help or hinder you as you lead others, and how you can leverage it with the CliftonStrengths for Managers and CliftonStrengths for Sales Reports. Unlock the leadership potential of your Adaptability talent -- because everyone leads something.


[Leaders with Adaptability are] at their best when they're actually reactive versus proactive. And they are just ready to tackle whatever that challenge is.

Jaclynn Robinson, 3:05

Someone with Adaptability would say, ... "Let's just think about the here-and-now present moment." And I think that helps people feel grounded.

Jaclynn Robinson, 11:56

Jim Collison 0:00
I am Jim Collison, and this is The CliftonStrengths Podcast, Season 2, recorded on January 24, 2023.

Jim Collison 0:07
In this CliftonStrengths Podcast series, we look at the CliftonStrengths for Leaders Report one theme at a time, and today's theme is Adaptability. If you're listening live, love to have you join us in chat. If you don't see the link, there is a link to it right above me -- if you don't see chat, there's a link to it right above me. Or if you have questions after the fact, if you're listening to the podcast or YouTube or whatever, send us an email: Dr. Jaclynn Robinson is our host today. She works as a Senior Gallup Learning and Development Consultant and joined me for Season 1 of The CliftonStrengths Podcast, where we looked at the Wellbeing at Work for each theme. And Jaclynn, great to see you! And that -- doesn't that seem like a million years ago? Welcome back!

Jaclynn Robinson 0:55
It does. Was that just 2022 for us?

Jim Collison 1:00
That was.

Jaclynn Robinson 1:01
Or was that 2021-2022? It is a blur.

Introducing Adaptability

Jim Collison 1:03
Well, we started the recordings in 2021 and then published them in 2022. But seems like a long time ago. We are spending some time on Adaptability today, looking at that in the context of leaders. And so let's get started. What's the intro? What is the definition of Adaptability?

Jaclynn Robinson 1:19
All right! If you have Adaptability high, you are the person that prefers to go with the flow. You tend to be a now person who takes things as they come and discovers the future one day at a time.

What Is the Power of Adaptability in a Leadership Role?

Jim Collison 1:30
I was mentioning in the preshow, all my family has this, and I mistook it for indifference or I mistook it sometimes for not being engaged, a lack of engagement. You know, because you would say, "Hey, well, like what do you guys want to do tonight?" And everybody's like, "Anything," you know, "Whatever; we're good." I think sometimes, that's how I misread it. Let's spend a little bit more time thinking about this in the context of being a leader. What's the power of this theme in a leadership role?

Jaclynn Robinson 2:01
I think a leader with this theme can remain calm in the midst of both crises and changes. So when an organization or department needs to adapt, this leader can really guide the employees in a manner that brings that sense of calm and stability to them. They recognize that the leader is capable and confident and really being able to navigate that change. And that brings a lot of Stability and Hope in the situation. They're really adept at being the firefighter, so to speak, in an organization or on a team.

How Can Those With Adaptability Lead Others?

Jim Collison 2:30
Yeah, you preempted my question about the 4 Needs of Followers, thinking about what those folks need. You said, Stability and Hope in that. Expand on that a little bit. As we think about Adaptability and Hope, what, as a leader is, is calm in the midst of maybe craziness, how does, how do you tie those two together? Talk a little bit more about that.

Jaclynn Robinson 2:54
Yeah, I see them as that person when they're cool, calm and collect, they, that's when they're at their best is in the moment. And if there's crises or change it's, Ooh, now I get to act. So they're at their best when they're actually reactive versus proactive. And they are just ready to tackle whatever that challenge is. And I think that shows to a lot of folks that are watching them, Ooh, this is going to be OK. They've got it covered. We're going to get through this. And so I think that's where you start to see some of that Hope show up is OK. They're not running around with their hair on fire, so things must be OK. There's got to be a way we're getting through this; they seem pretty confident in their ability to get us through this.

How Could Adaptability Hinder Your Leadership of Others?

Jim Collison 3:35
In the early seasons of Called to Coach, there was not the easiness of making all this happen, this technology we have -- we're on a single platform. Now it seems to work pretty well. We, I just don't have the trouble that I used to have getting people in chat, whatever. But in those early days, I remember getting a lot of feedback from people like, you know, things are going crazy just with the technology. And it was like, Jim, Jim's not in a panic. And I have Adaptability high. And I love, I say I'm a firefighter, not a farmer, I like to be on the edge. I, I'm better in the context of, of things being out of control or hair on fire. In fact, if you give me too much time to think about it, I, I choke; I don't do as well. I, I need to, I kind of need to live in that moment. And so I got a lot of feedback in those early days of like, Hey, you know, things were, were not as stable as we want them to be, but you acted like they were stable. And so provided that Stability, like you were talking about, to what we were trying to do here. Let's think on the opposite side of things. How could this theme hinder the leadership of others?

Jaclynn Robinson 4:44
Well, if there's too much focus on the present moment without other talents or powerful partners to help this leader think about maybe the strategic initiatives or future innovations that are going to keep them as the market, the market leaders, or if they're not, you know, considering the long-term employee development plan, just as examples, then that can hinder the individual and their leadership within the organization.

Jim Collison 5:09
Yeah, I make no bones that your Strategic is so good for me in working through things. I lean on folks with Analytical and Strategic and Deliberative because I am so on the tip. For those leaders that may find themselves leading for the first time or young, the young leaders in that, and if they have these themes that, that, that make them best when they're reactive, how do you think, how do you think they share that with those that are around them to empower them? Like, as I'm best, I'm best in chaos. That would be the way I describe it. But how, what kind of advice would you give on sharing that with teams that you either work with or teams you're responsible for, so they understand that? What do you think?

Jaclynn Robinson 5:58
Yes, we usually help, I'd say, coach them up, and "we" being as just strengths coaches. Sometimes you have to preface the way you show up to others, so they don't mistake it for something different. So Adaptability sometimes gets that bad rap of being procrastinators. And so whenever they are working with others, something they might want to preface the conversation with is, I'm at my best when I can be in the moment and react to a situation, much like a firefighter or someone that you might see in the ER -- you don't want them to stop and think too long. You know, just to say that's kind of what my, my overall behaviorisms are. So anytime that we need to get something fired up right away or something comes across our agenda last minute, hey, I'm your go-to person. That's where I thrive. But know that I'm not procrastinating in scenarios where we have tasks to get done; I'm just at my best in the moment. So I think if they really kind of preface it and share with the team, These are my needs; this is when I'm at my best, they can, they can remove a lot of tension before it even starts.

How Can You Use Adaptability as You Lead, Together With the Managers and Sales Reports?

Jim Collison 7:13
I love that. I think, as I started to become, because I have Arranger and Activator as well, right? It's those three together, that's a, that's a crazy triplet. As I got older, I learned to deal with "No" better, and trust other people's "No"s. Right, I think, when we think about hindering, I think Adaptability oftentimes, they may start a direction and somebody will be like, "No." And then quickly and easily change to that, like, and that's OK; I'm designed that way, but it, understanding the "No" and saying, OK, like I know I've started out on this, and information is good for me, too. When we think about this season, we're thinking about combining this, we call it report dynamics. When I say "we," I just mean "me," because I just made that up for the season. But report dynamics, when we take CliftonStrengths for Leaders and we pair it together with CliftonStrengths for Managers, the Manager Report -- CliftonStrengths, the Sales Report. That's the one we'll do first. What do you think, as we combine those two together, How could those be used together for someone with high Adaptability?

Jaclynn Robinson 8:25
Yeah, well, in a Sales Leader role, this individual might be focused on their prospects or clients' existing problems or needs -- what do they need in the present moment? And once that's known, then they can outline maybe a couple of different ways that the organization can help and partner with them. And I think, to layer on to that, with their talent for being comfortable with change and adapting to needs as they arise, the client or prospect that they're talking to probably doesn't feel pressured by this person to have to select either option. It's, OK. They're kind of letting me just go with the flow here. If I don't like either one, they'll probably just figure out a new, you know, a new way that they can support. So I think that could get a lot of buy-in from clients, too, when they realize this person isn't just kind of hovering over them. But Hey, I heard what your current needs are. These are a couple of options for you. And with that more, kind of relaxed attitude, they probably get that buy-in.

Jim Collison 9:21
High Adaptability leaders in a sales position maybe needed right now, as we think about the last 3 years. We're recording this here, January of 2023. We're coming up on, you know, a 3-year milestone with everything that's going on COVID. And certainly sales cycles, markets, all the things that are going on in the economies of countries around the world, and being able to adapt to those and say, OK, well this has certainly changed. You know, we were so stable for so long in so many ways, and even from a global standpoint. Now, there's micro-examples where that wouldn't be true for sure. But when we think about a lot of, there had been a lot of stability in the markets; those, that stability is gone. And we don't know, you know, we don't know. And so I think that's one of these areas, we can look at those. Remember, these reports have Helps, Hinders and Action Items. And I think there's some opportunities to think through with these Sales Leaders or Salespeople who lead things that can just be, it can be that as well. How can I use my superpower? We need them right now. We need you to engage in this right now. Let's think about it in the context of the, the Leaders and Manager Report together -- what, what we say as we combine those two together. What do you think?

Jaclynn Robinson 10:45
I like this one! A leader with, I just like seeing someone high with Adaptability as a manager. I like all of them, but this was just fun to think about, because I think a leader with Adaptability that manages people can be really great at helping their direct reports just recenter when they feel overwhelmed by work or other responsibilities. And we know that's what a lot of people are feeling right now. So they can just, that sense of calm they have just kind of comes off of them and lands on the people that they're working with. But this manager might help them think about, What is your biggest priority in the current moment? Or help them think about different paths they can take to accomplish the, the workload that they have. But either way, again, that sense of calm, cool and collectedness is really going to help the direct reports if they just feel frazzled, because there's so much to do, there's so much to get done. Let's just think it through.

Jim Collison 11:38
You use the term "recenter." Can, when you, when you think of that word in this context of leading and managing, what, what else comes to your mind for that? What mental pictures do you bring, as far as a leader helping people recenter?

Jaclynn Robinson 11:54
Yes, well, someone with Adaptability would say, "Let's not think about the past. It's there for a reason. We've already, we've already seen it through. And don't worry so much about the future. We're not there yet. So let's just think about the here-and-now present moment." And I think that helps people feel grounded. That would be another term I would use for "recenter." To go OK, you're right. What is the most pressing thing I need to do right now? Every priority can't be a priority, because that means nothing is a priority. So let's just take it one by one. And that person can help them just see, Hey, either path you choose, you're going to, you're going to, you're going to tackle it; it's going to be OK.

Jim Collison 12:35
I think, I think leaders can also give options and help individuals, help teams get off high center. They get stuck on something and say -- and maybe it's not even a, "You need to do this"; it can be "Hey, we have some options here. We can do this; we could do this; we could do a combination of these things. But we're going to do something."

Jaclynn Robinson 13:00

Jim Collison 13:01
We're gonna get off center, right, we're gonna get off, we're going to, we're going to, you know, that's a little bit of the opposite, as you're thinking about centering. But also sometimes when we get stuck there, to be able to give some options, move some things around -- consider the past, but, but maybe even some of the options are taking into, into account. I think about, we're going through a period of high inflation globally. And I think this is not the first time we've been, this has happened to the globe. 1970s is a great example of what, some global inflation that happened. I think sometimes we need to think, What happened then? How did we handle it? Certainly, there's different circumstances. But how did we handle it then? What are some techniques we tried, some things we did? What did people do during that time? I think that's a good exercise in Adaptability, right, is saying, OK, we've got some options now. With prices getting more expensive, what are some alternatives to some things that maybe we've done in the past? I think some really good business options could come that way. As we wrap this, Jaclynn, any other thoughts? You want to respond to that or any other thoughts, before we wrap it here with Adaptability?

Jaclynn Robinson 14:13
I think that's really good. One thing that that triggers for me, and a way that those with Adaptability can continue to lean into it, is being able to help people just remain present at times. To your point, say, Hey, we've come through this in the past; we'll get through it again. And let's just think about how we can continue to keep the day-to-day business operating in the here and now. Are our employees engaged? Is the business running efficiently? But they have a pulse on the here and now, and I think that can help other leaders refocus. And to your point, it might be giving some options of what we can do presently, based on what maybe you've learned from the past, but not sitting there and not trying to forecast so far ahead in the future that you lose sight of the present moment.

Jim Collison 15:04
Yeah, I love that. And remember, leaders, your Adaptability pairs with your other themes. And, and the reason we do this is to get you thinking about, Where am I at my best? These, all these examples may not resonate with you specifically. But it's a great opportunity for self-discovery, as we think about how does this work for you? And Adaptability, you should be pretty good at this. So work through it, work through it, and, and certainly work through it with you and your team. So with that, we'll remind everyone to take full advantage of all the resources we do have available now in Gallup Access. Head out to Sign in, if, maybe it's been a while since you've done it. If you go to the Resources tab, so menu upper left, drop it down, choose Resources, and put "Adaptability" in the search, you'll get everything we've written or said about Adaptability. A great learning opportunity for you, and a great opportunity for those that you coach. So get that done today. Give it a try. It's, it's how I find things, especially around these themes. Stay up to date with all the webcasts that we do. If you want to join us live -- maybe you're listening to the recording; you want to join us live -- head out to Register there and follow us. And, again, gallup.eventbrite -- B-R-I-T-E. Join us on any social platform by searching "CliftonStrengths," and certainly subscribe or follow this podcast wherever you're listening to it, so you never miss an episode. If you're listening live, we want to thank you for coming out, and stay around for a little bit of midshow. With that, we'll say, Goodbye, everybody.

Jaclynn Robinson's Top 5 CliftonStrengths are Achiever, Strategic, Maximizer, Positivity and Relator.

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

Gallup®, CliftonStrengths® and each of the 34 CliftonStrengths theme names are trademarks of Gallup. Copyright © 2000 Gallup, Inc. All rights reserved.

Gallup World Headquarters, 901 F Street, Washington, D.C., 20001, U.S.A
+1 202.715.3030