How Do Successful Leaders Sense the Shift in Wind Direction?

The wise adapt themselves to circumstances, as water molds itself to the pitcher.
— Chinese Proverbs

Adaptability is the quality of being able to adjust to new conditions. In evolution adaptation is a slow change, but in today’s world, adaptability must occur as quickly as the changes around us. Adaptability gives us the ability to sense the shift in wind direction, to be proactive in adapting our approaches and shifting our priorities as to how we handle a situation at any given time.

For successful leaders, here are some tips for developing adaptability:

  • Recognize and embrace that change is constant

  • Become comfortable with uncertainty and be willing to take risks

  • Be willing to let go of old skills and ideas

  • Be open-minded to new skills and ideas

The one constant in life is change. In today’s society with technology and social media, change occurs quickly. The first step to adaptability and being able to shift priorities at a moment's notice is to count on and accept that change is inevitable. Recognizing this also enables us to predict change before it occurs. By recognizing and embracing change and uncertainty as a part of business, we can have a positive outlook on it. The more positive our outlook is, the more positive the results. Focus on the newness of change. It can be exciting. Change provides us an opportunity to become reinvigorated with our careers and increases motivation as leaders and mentors.

Sometimes we need to make decisions that are new and different, and we aren’t 100% confident what the results will be. Get comfortable with the unknown. Focus on what can go right. There are no wrong outcomes; only learning opportunities. As we increasingly follow our hunches and intuition, the results will become more reliable, and we become confident in our own judgement and abilities.  

Part of embracing change and uncertainty is the willingness and openness to let go of old thinking patterns, skills, and ideas. What worked six months ago does not work today. A successful leader is able to recognize when the usual way of doing something is not effective, and we need to try something new. It is important to avoid being static. Attend trainings and conferences on a regular basis and build a mental toolbox of skills and strategies, so when you sense the change in wind direction, you are ready to adapt and shift with it.

As leaders, we need to stay ahead, we need to see more than others, and we need to see before others.
— John Maxwell

ANCHOR Writer’s Corner

Jen Kepler // Writer, Editor

Kelly Davis // Content Editor