Strengths Coaching Blog

Monday, June 19, 2017

Mastery Monday: Understanding Adaptability

By Albert L. Winseman, D.Min



It is said that Abraham Lincoln once stated, “The best thing about the future is that it comes one day at a time.” People with strong Adaptability talents resonate with the truth of that statement, and find it to be particularly helpful in navigating the vicissitudes of daily life. Adaptability is a “now” theme that finds deep satisfaction in living in the moment. Individuals with Adaptability in their Top Five 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 momentary change, but have a sense of calm assurance that whatever may come, they are equipped to handle it. In fact, individuals high in Adaptability view the interruptions of the day as the most exciting part of the day – because you never know what is going to happen. They often are extremely adept at “going with the flow.”

In this installment of Compare and Contrast, I will examine the similarities and differences between Adaptability and Empathy, Focus, and Connectedness.


Adaptability and Empathy

One of the great gifts that one receives from being in the presence of a person high in Adaptability is that he or she is completely focused on you in that moment. And that can feel like Empathy to the receiver. So while the outcome or behavior may feel the same, the drivers of those behaviors are different. Both themes are very present in the moment with others. Empathy is intuitive about how people are feeling; Adaptability is reactive to how people are feeling. Empathy can sense how someone feels often times without even talking to or interacting with person; when those with Adaptability interact with a person they are so focused on that person that feelings become obvious. Empathy can tell how you are feeling before talking to you; Adaptability can tell how you are feeling by talking to you. Adaptability easily adapts to the external; Empathy adapts to sympathize with others.

Adaptability and Focus

There is a certain single-mindedness that is characteristic of both Adaptability and Focus. However, the single-mindedness of Adaptability is more momentary, while Focus is more long-term and goal oriented.  Adaptability goes with the flow, and Focus stays the course.  Those high in Adaptability can be distracted by what is going on around them; those high in Focus can be oblivious to what is going on around them. Adaptability needs to limit distractions in order to concentrate; Focus can tune out distractions in order to concentrate. For Focus, unforeseen events or circumstances must be managed so the goal can be achieved. For Adaptability, unforeseen events or circumstances must be embraced so that life can be fully lived.

Adaptability and Connectedness

Both Adaptability and Connectedness are relationship building themes, so there are some similarities between them. Both Adaptability and Connectedness can find meaning in the present moment and can pay attention to what is happening now.  Both themes make connections with others. But there are some distinct differences as well. Connectedness tends to believe that every day is important because of its connection to the greater whole, while Adaptability tends to believe that every day is important in and of itself. Connectedness views life-events from a “ripple effect” vantage point – that every action starts a series of consequences and actions that span across time and space like the ripples that expand from tossing a pebble into a pool of water. Adaptability believes that today is enough, and tomorrow may bring something else completely unrelated. Connectedness finds meaning in events; Adaptability reacts to events. Connectedness tends to be motivated by the belief that all there is isn’t “all there is,” while Adaptability tends to be motivated by focusing on what is happening in the here and now.


Be sure to catch up on Season One and Season Two of Theme Thursday-Adaptability to learn more!

Albert L. Winseman, D.Min., is a Senior Learning and Development Consultant at Gallup. Al brings deep expertise in employee and customer engagement, executive leadership and organizational dynamics to his consulting work with Gallup’s clients. He consults with senior leaders, executives and front-line managers to improve employee and customer engagement and to implement strategic initiatives that drive business growth.

Al's top 5 strengths are: Ideation | Futuristic | Maximizer | Strategic | Command

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1 comment :

Debby Lissaur said...

This is great! I love the nuances you highlight. Thank you!

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