Browse by year:
The Smart Techie was renamed Siliconindia India Edition starting Feb 2012 to continue the nearly two decade track record of excellence of our US edition.

October - 2010 - issue > People Manager

Developing Adaptability

C Mahalingam (Mali)
Sunday, October 3, 2010
C Mahalingam (Mali)
In the earlier issues, we discussed various competencies needed to succeed in organizations. E-MBA or no MBA, being able to adapt is increasingly becoming one of the most critical leadership competencies. The business environment today is increasingly complex and marked by rapid change. Being adaptable on a real time basis becomes a key success factor. While by nature most of us build flexibility and adaptability over time, three specific types of adaptability become critical for leaders to succeed in corporate. This has been the subject of study and research for many years. Prof. Steve Zaccaro from George Mason University has done some seminal work in the area of flexibility including the three types we will cover in this issue.

Adaptability is no longer a nicety or a coping mechanism. It is a leadership imperative. Organizational challenges are becoming more and more adaptive challenges. This is also otherwise known as systemic challenges with no clear-cut solutions. The three types of flexibility that leaders need to build are:

Cognitive flexibility: this involves the ability to use a variety of thinking strategies and mental frameworks. These are particularly useful in planning processes while this can be very helpful in daily operations as well. MBA curriculum teaches scenario planning, but the key requisite for scenario planning is flexibility in cognitive skills. This indicates nimble and divergent thinking, an interest in developing new approaches, the ability to see and leverage new connections, and the propensity to work across the organization. Managers with flexibility readily learn from experience and recognize when old approaches do not deliver. How do you know you have this flexibility or are building this? Three specific things characterize people with this flexibility:

* Scanning the environment: Alert managers scan their environments all the time. They are able to identify changes as they occur. This capacity increases with understanding the context of the business environment. Soliciting information from knowledgeable sources and more importantly using that knowledge to reshape understanding and perspectives become a habit for managers with this flexibility

* Sense making: Sense making involves detecting the change at it appears on the horizon and understanding it. Being a keen observer of what is happening in the industry and in the neighborhood helps hone this skill

Share on Twitter
Share on LinkedIn
Share on facebook