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Adaptability®: How to Feel More Energized at Work
Called to Coach

Adaptability®: How to Feel More Energized at Work

Webcast Details

  • What do people with Adaptability bring to their roles and workplaces?
  • How can you bring energy and motivation to work as you apply your Adaptability talent?
  • How can managers with Adaptability create more of an energized, thriving culture on their teams?

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


Productive employees want energy, motivation and drive to characterize their work life. Managers want their teams to possess these in abundance. And organizations envision an entire engaged, thriving workforce that overflows with these qualities. How can individuals high in Adaptability bring energy and motivation to their workplaces? And how can managers high in Adaptability® foster a work environment that is energized, motivated and thriving? Join Gallup's Jim Collison and Dr. Jaclynn Robinson and discover how, using your Adaptability theme, you can bring new energy and motivation to your role, your managing, your coaching.


One thing that [individuals with Adaptability] could do [is] to start gauging where their joy and energy is, and how they can really pull that into a development plan.

Jaclynn Robinson, 5:07

When there is an obstacle that arises or resources that are desperately needed, then that [manager with] Adaptability can ... just jump right into it so that they can keep that workflow progressing forward.

Jaclynn Robinson, 10:23

Jim Collison 0:00
I am Jim Collison, and this is The CliftonStrengths Podcast, Season 3, recorded on November 17, 2023.

Jim Collison 0:06
In this CliftonStrengths® Podcast series, we'll look at how to feel more energized and motivated at work one theme at a time, and today's theme is Adaptability. If you're listening live, you can join us in the chat room for maybe mid- and postshow stuff. If you have questions after the fact, you can always send us an email: Dr. Jaclynn Robinson is our host today. She works as a Senior Learning -- don't know why I'm having trouble talking today -- and Development Consultant (maybe because it's Friday) and joined me for Season 1 and 2 of The CliftonStrengths Podcast, where we looked at Wellbeing at Work, the book, and the CliftonStrengths role-based reports, the actual reports that are in Gallup Access. Jaclynn, always great to see you. Welcome back!

Jaclynn Robinson 1:02
Thank you!

Adaptability: Questions for Individuals

Jim Collison 1:05
Jaclynn, we're talking the season about bringing energy to work, which I think, well, I don't think we knew this was going to be as big of a deal as it is, but I think as we release these in 2024, think we're gonna have a challenging year ahead, right. And so thinking about bringing energy, bringing engagement into those things that we do is super exciting. So as we, today, as we talk about Adaptability, let's start with the individual first. Then we'll talk maybe about some manager roles. What are some ways an individual with, with this Adaptability can feel more energized by maybe focusing on their basic needs?

Jaclynn Robinson 1:41
Yeah, I think the first piece for someone with Adaptability, I love that whole go-with-the-flow approach that they have. But maybe connecting with the manager initially, to understand what those key priorities are, so that they can aim their, you know, aim their additional strengths at what needs to get done, but then have that wherewithal and flexibility to go with the flow for the remainder of the day. So maybe they make sure, you know, first of the morning, I'm tackling this basic need or, you know, this key priority, but then after that, it's, OK, now where do I want to go? Do I want to do this or do I want to do this? So I think they could, there's got to be that balance to some degree, because with basic needs, everyone needs role clarity, no matter what talent theme you have, to know that you're focusing on the right thing. But at least having that clarity then gives you, like I said, the freedom to be able to go with the flow in those other areas.

Jim Collison 2:39
Might be an area where, with Adaptability, they need to be keenly aware of their, of their basic needs to make sure that it's not just -- because it can go, because it can, you know, adapt or adjust to many situations. And again, it all depends on where it lands and what, what surrounds it, right. Every once in a while, you see Adaptability and Discipline® together, but in a lot of cases, just being keenly aware of, of what, what do I need in these situations? Because we can, that can get pushed away or in the, in the desire to go with the flow, in the desire to be in the middle of it all. And that's kind of, I think of it, if I think about it the river, they want to stay in the middle, no matter where the courses of the river is going -- and can do it. If it curves, they're able to stay in the middle. If it goes straight, they're able to stay in the middle, right, and be comfortable in that. So that keen awareness of their basic needs, right, of maybe doing some things to make sure they themselves are getting that, getting, getting it taken care of, right. We've done a lot of work with burnout, and so it would be, it could be easy for those things to get neglected. I don't know, would you add anything to that?

Jaclynn Robinson 3:51
Well, I love what you just said, because it reminds me, you know, there is that balance. So if they know what their key priorities are, another angle that they could take with high Adaptability that gives them that freedom and flow is to say, Do I want to work on this key priority right now or this key priority right now? And so, just make sure you have clarity on the key responsibilities or priorities that you need to cover. And then in the day, it doesn't matter if you're doing this one or this one -- they're both of importance. Unless there's maybe that key deadline, and you have to go by deadline instead.

Jim Collison 4:24
Well, and maybe that's the awareness, this, the special skill in this is understanding, having the awareness to know in the moment, What are those priorities? And I move with them to get maximum effectiveness? Is what we're trying to do, right. So Jaclynn, as we think about the individual, continue to think about the individual, what are some ways we can feel energized by focusing on individual strengths and development? What -- we may have alluded a little bit to that in the last answer, but continue to think through that, that area of development

Jaclynn Robinson 5:01
I think one aspect -- they love living in the present moment. And so one thing that they could do to start gauging where their joy and energy is, and how they can, you know, really pull that into a development plan -- make a note. So when you're just in your day to day, what, pay, because they're so present, pay attention to those present emotions. And then think to yourself for a moment, What am I doing? Like what's creating this level of joy and energy for me right now? And just jot it down on a notepad. Whenever you have that next one-on-one meeting with your manager, now you have a collection of thoughts of those different responsibilities you've had throughout, you know, days. And then you can, you know, tabulate it with your manager and come up with a developmental plan that feels really suitable to you. Might not be something that is necessarily top of mind, if we think about Adaptability as just a straight theme, because there is that present moment versus thinking about the future, and where do I maybe see myself in the future?

Jaclynn Robinson 6:07
But you're gonna help your manager get a lot of really good, juicy material and feedback if you're taking notes in that immediate, present moment that you can then provide to them. They can start to make meaning of it and see, oh, well, when you work on this particular project, or you're involved in this particular responsibility, you seem to really love it. We do have, you know, some skills training or a potential role that you might want to continue to learn and grow in. And so they can really support you. But that additive effect of giving them some notes can help, since you tend to live in that present moment, and not think too much about the past, and what you've done, or the future, and where you could go.

Jim Collison 6:47
Love that. Love those thoughts. I think I have Adaptability 7. For my own development, I try to put myself in situations that takes advantage of that. And so new, new opportunities, thinking through new problems, where things are going to change, I love to be on teams where things are changing all the time, type deal. Not, and I can't do it 100% of the time; I do need some stability. I need some stability and expectations, just to be honest, like, you know, I need a little bit of that stability there. But challenging myself and keeping my schedule clear enough that I can be adaptable in those situations -- look, if I'm booked all day, I can't be adaptable, right, when somebody needs something right away. So I've got to be proactive in keeping some space available.

Jim Collison 7:32
It's a great feeling when somebody calls, and they're like, "I know I'm bothering you." And I say, "I can help you right now." Right. That's a --

Jaclynn Robinson 7:40
That's when you're on fire.

Jim Collison 7:41
And it doesn't work for everybody. Nobody, so there are people who are like, No, I want to think this through. And I'm, No, no, let's just kind of, let's do this, let's do this in the moment. So that's how I set it up, to make sure that some of those kinds of things, at least that I'm available for it. And that energizes me. I walk away from those every single time and go, I'm pumped. Let's continue to, let's continue to do more -- I want to be fighting fires, not farming, right. And I've said that several times on the podcast. What are some ways an individual with Adaptability can feel energized by building partnerships and finding purpose in the role? Can you talk a little bit about that?

Jaclynn Robinson 8:18
I think you just highlighted it perfectly. Someone high in Adaptability is so good at creating that, that level of calm on a team. And the purpose that they can bring, even to partnerships, is grounding them in that present moment, allowing them to kind of feel through what's happening and say, let's figure out a way. Let's get through this together. So they can be such a, you know, a wonderful partner in crime, especially for those that like a little bit more stability or structure when change occurs. Because that person high in Adaptability can say, Well, this isn't necessarily a bad thing. Let me give you a big, a big picture of how I see this going. Because either path we take could be great. But, you know, this isn't necessarily burdensome. And they can bring others to that cool, calm and collect mental state. So I think they're really adept at partnerships in that regard, in the firefighter.

Jim Collison 9:14

Jaclynn Robinson 9:15
Oh, no, you're good.

Jim Collison 9:16
I'm being too adaptable.

Jaclynn Robinson 9:17
I'm getting excited.

Adaptability: Questions for Managers

Jim Collison 9:19
You make me think of being in the eye of the storm. And from time to time, you know, it's calm in there, but all around you, it, right. And then, but you can't stay in it; from time to time, you've got to get out of it, come back into it. You know, but that's thrilling. That's exciting. That's energizing. That brings, and for me, it's, this is that thing. You know, for me, it's easy to think that way and to think everybody loves that. And oftentimes, and we're gonna talk about the manager here in just a second, I try to take teams on that journey, and they're not, I forget they're not all wired that way. You know, some of them want to know and things in advance. You know, like where are we going? And what are we doing? Those, you know, those kinds of things in advance. What, let's dive into the manager a little bit. When, when we think about a manager with Adaptability, and I just admitted, maybe some of the errors of my ways as a manager, but how can I use that better, using me as an example, to meet the basic needs of the team?

Jaclynn Robinson 10:20
Well, a manager can take control of the situation. So when there is an obstacle that arises or resources that are desperately needed, then that person high in Adaptability, as a manager, can make sure that they just jump right into it so that they can keep that workflow progressing forward. So that go-with-the flow mentality can literally help progress the flow of the work. Because they go, Hey, I've got this. Don't worry, what are your needs? OK, let's, let's flag it for IT. Let's flag it for, you know, whomever necessary. And let's identify a workaround in the meantime.

Jim Collison 11:04
In our 5 Coaching Conversations, we have this idea of a Quick Connect. And I think, as a manager, thinking about the basic needs of those that they manage, I think that Quick Connect tool becomes very, very powerful -- or could become very, very powerful. And using that to, to, to get the, to feel or gauge the energy of their teams on a very regular basis, to be able to say, Hey, how are you feeling today? I know we talked about this yesterday; let's talk about it again. Like, how are you feeling? How's this going? And maybe even sense that, sense how the team is doing in those some of areas. But I feel like that Quick Connect would be a great opportunity. Any additional thoughts on that?

Jaclynn Robinson 11:47
Yeah, I love that Quick Connect idea, because it takes place anywhere. It can take place at any time and on any platform. So it's completely flexible for someone with Adaptability that likes to, to flex. But I love that, because it does give you the pulse point to know, Do they know what their key priorities or responsibilities are for today? Do they have any barriers or resources getting in the way of their productivity? And then how can I come in and support if necessary?

Jim Collison 12:14
Yeah, oh, let's -- can you, would you repeat those again? Can you put that in that order again? Say it again.

Jaclynn Robinson 12:20
Yes. So whenever they are checking in, it's a good temperature or pulse for a team. And they can essentially identify, do you have the clar, the clarity of the responsibilities and priorities right now? And do you have the barriers -- are there any barriers or resources that are getting in the way of your success right now? And then how can I support? And someone with Adaptability will jump right in and get those basic needs met.

Jim Collison 12:47
Yeah. And maybe sensing, though, too, when the, there are team members who need that stability of providing that in a way that may be counterintuitive to them. How do I create the stability for their basic needs? While I'm flying around the outside of this thing, maybe as a manager, how am I creating something in the center for those that need stability? So love that. Let's, let's transition that to think, then, How does this, how can Adaptability help others feel seen, heard and valued?

Jaclynn Robinson 13:21
Yes. I think of Adaptability, given that present moment that they can sit in, managers that have this high do so well at saying, "How are you today?" and just checking in. And you mentioned this -- you teased this out -- so you can see it within yourself, of just, you know, it's that easygoing nature of, How are you today? And they can allow people to feel so relaxed in their presence. And they allow that level of vulnerability for them to share out what is going on in their life, for better or for worse. So I love that, because it, it helps really drill people down to live in that present moment, or just feel it for a moment, and go Oh, wait! Yeah, how am I doing? Where do I maybe need support? Where am I feeling my own level of energy and joy? So those in Adaptability, because they live so present, I think they, they just do that so well.

Jim Collison 14:17
I think in my own role, I answer questions around the globe, regardless of the hours. As long as I'm not sleeping, I'm probably answering questions. And it allows, what I think, it allows people this idea of being seen and heard. And to do it so quickly. Like, Hey, I've got this question right now. How do I do this? And I think most people expect it's going to be a day or two, maybe three, before I hear back. Boy, if it's been 3 days since you've heard from me, I've already forgotten about you. So by the way, coaching community, if you send me an email, and it's 3 days, something's terribly wrong, and I have forgotten. So that's just the way I work, right, but, but it, it helps. Well let's, let's parlay that into this idea of how can you use Adaptability as a manager to build trust, inspire and deepen team collaboration and community? Talk a little bit, talk about how that fits in.

Jaclynn Robinson 15:12
I think about, I think about if they have an eye towards excellence, and they see where they need to steer the ship as a manager for their team, they can have that pretty adept flexibility to say, Ooh, I think this partnership would be well, so I want to pair maybe this person and this person together. Or this person feels like they might be struggling. I know someone in -- I don't want this to sound like Woo®. But it's more of that being so present, of seeing maybe what teams are doing what; what partners are doing what; to say, maybe I can pair these together. And then they can form that adept partnership to, you know, put forth quality work.

Jaclynn Robinson 15:54
They can also just create a lot of openness in team meetings for them to share out what's working and what isn't working. So within the moment, if they are, have this big project, let's say a team has a big project on their plate, and you've got the manager in the room. OK, well, let's just talk about it. What are your needs? Let's think about some workaround solutions. As a manager, they naturally have more of that bird's eye view, I'll call it, of who's doing what across an organization. And so they might know someone else that they can loop in to support the team. So they have a level of flexibility, I think, that allows the team to feel less pressured to, you know, just sit in their own pigeonhole. It's, well, let's just figure out a -- there's workarounds. We've got this. You know, let's partner together. Let's partner with other people. Let's, you know, consider workarounds. How do you see it work for you?

Jim Collison 16:51
Well, I was, as you were talking about that, I was thinking, you know, we spend a lot of time in software thinking about agile software development, and going through that, iterate, those, some of those iterations quickly. And I think there, in team settings, a manager with high Adaptability can, can be agile with the creation or, or separation of teams, and saying, "Hey, let's, I need the two of you to work together. Let's see how that goes," setting the expectations that this may rapidly change. But we want to see, let's try some things out of these group settings to see how much success we have. And we can turn on a dime. Right? And, and I think sometimes for some people, that creates some trust in, in the, in the midst of change, ironically, stability. Because they feel like my manager knows this may change; therefore it is OK if it does.

Jim Collison 17:46
Oftentimes, we think, in the midst of change -- you and I were talking a little bit about this in preshow -- just not knowing it's gonna be, what the changes are going to be or how are people going to respond to them? How's the manager going to respond to those changes? Can be difficult, right? And, and so building that community may be just saying, Change is OK. I'm here. I'm going to help you through this. You're not going to fall out somewhere in the process. Right. I don't know, before the last question, any, any, does that, any additional thoughts on that? I think this is an important one.

Jaclynn Robinson 18:20
You, you beautifully said what I was thinking in my head, in terms of an example. Because you can hear that element of, you know, there's freedom in flexibility. And sometimes, even if you're the most stable, disciplined person, you need to know that you've got freedom to just play around with something and be more agile in a role or have those cross-collaborations. And that in itself builds relationships, because you're giving people the freedom to work across departments; you're giving them the freedom to maybe work in different partnerships and explore it. Let's think about what's working; what isn't. And beyond that, when I think about Adaptability, you're also just building relationships with individuals. You're giving them the freedom to just be themselves or be in that space and live in the present moment. So yeah, that in itself builds trust and rapport.

Jim Collison 19:19
I'm going to channel Curt for a second, and I'm gonna say these words: flexible intentionality, right. This idea of, like, because as a manager, it can't just be a free for all, right? It's got to, it's got to have some intentionality to it. But, but at the same time, it's got to be able to bend and flex or pivot and be, and everyone OK with that, you know. When, when we think about the growth of team members, then, because this seems a little counterintuitive, with Adaptability, in some ways. We're like, well, if we're always changing, how can we be growing? Talk a little bit about, here on this final question, How do you support the growth of each team member with Adaptability?

Jaclynn Robinson 19:59
They can be really supportive of team members by giving them the freedom to discover their own path towards professional growth. And then whenever they're on that path, there's freedom to course-correct if they've gotten a little, you know, out of, outside their lane of where they wanted to take their career or where they saw their role going. Hey, if they like that path, you've got someone high in Adaptability that says, "Well, let's try it out, if that's something that's of interest to you." But if they do want to get back on course, someone high in Adaptability can, you know, quickly help them find those new opportunities, put some new milestones in place, and then just help them consider what's the immediate first step that you can take? Because living in the present moment, we're going to have that individual development plan, you're going to have your own freedom, but what's the first step that you want to take today that I can support you with? So I would say, team members don't have to feel boxed in by their development plan. Like, oh, we set this at the beginning of the year, and now we're stuck on it. You've got a manager that's going to be a little bit more flexible and help you reach that path that you see for yourself.

Jim Collison 21:08
Yeah, and I think realizing you're working with a manager with high Adaptability gives some of that freedom, but then sets an expectation of communication. Because it can't, again, it can't be chaos. This is not everybody doing what they want.

Jaclynn Robinson 21:22
Choose your own adventure all the time.

Jim Collison 21:23
No. We got to, we got to kind of keep it in line. But, but having that constant communication back with the manager of, and then understanding that, both taking advantage of it, from a, from an employee's standpoint, and then understanding it from a team perspective. Of saying for, for some of those team members who are like, Man, it seems like things are changing all the time! To say, well, they are. But here's how we're taking advantage of it. And here's how it's working from a team setting. Jaclynn, I think that's a, maybe a good place to end this. One more final thought from you? Anything else you want to say before I wrap this up today?

Jaclynn Robinson 21:57
Yes, I'd say someone with Adaptability is really good at just exuding a relaxed presence and a reassuring attitude. And that, in itself, can help people feel so grounded. It can help them feel reenergized, if they're going through a tough time. It can help them feel reenergized if they're going through a great time, because you have someone that's just there in the moment with you. So if you have it as an individual or a manager, there really is so much value that you bring in helping others feel seen, heard and recognized in that immediate moment.

Jim Collison 22:28
Yeah, awesome. Well, with that, we'll remind everyone to take full advantage of all the resources we have in Gallup Access. Head out to Stay up to date with everything that we do on social media just by searching "CliftonStrengths." For coaching, master coaching or to become a Gallup-Certified Strengths Coach, you can send us an email: We'll get right back to you. And then don't forget, the Gallup at Work Summit for 2024 is coming up. If you're listening to this after June of 2024, it's probably, we have the next one in planning. But head out to; get registered today. It's gonna be a dynamite one. And join us there. Stay up to date on all future web, webcasts by joining our Facebook groups. And like I mentioned on social media, you can find us by just searching "CliftonStrengths." If you found this helpful, we'd ask you that you share it, and want to thank you for joining us today. 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:

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