StrengthsFinder® Adaptability Theme (CliftonStrengths)

StrengthsFinder Singapore Leadership Application Adaptability

“Why do you keep doing things at the very last minute?” 

I used to think of this as a very bad habit - to procrastinate and wait till the very last moment before getting anything done. I never quite understood why people behaved that way. That is, till I began to understand people with Adaptability. 

People with Adaptability in their top 5 Strengthsfinder results live in the moment. The genius of the Adaptability theme lies in the way they respond to chaos: They are very flexible and can respond quickly in circumstances that would otherwise be frightening or intimidating to many. In their heads, they imagine a scenario, unfold a game plan and perform in the most optimal way that best suits the situation. They are talented in areas which demand them to adapt to situations on their feet. These can include live performances, drama or sports.

Those with Adaptability have a knack for waiting - waiting for a particular time frame, usually very close to a deadline (unfortunately for some) or a time before utilizing all their energy, resources and brainpower to work towards a result. In simple terms, they REACT. And they react really well. The more they feel a time pressure closing down on them, the greater their motivation and the better they perform.  Their way of life is summarized in a simple statement - Live life from moment to moment. Many people with Adaptability tend to be labelled as “lazy, procrastinators, last-minute or haphazard”. While some of these might be true when Adaptability is in its infancy, many of these labels are a result of misunderstanding. 

People with Adaptability prefer to react as opposed to being prepared. They do not conform to the conventional wisdom of "being as prepared as you can be” or “finishing tasks as early as possible”. I discovered this (the hard way) after working through several conflicts with my Singapore business partner, Jason Ho. With Adaptability as one of his top 5 Strengthsfinder themes, Jason adapts very well to different situations. What did not sink in for me was that our working styles were polar opposites. I am an Achiever; I prefer to finish tasks as quickly as I can. Every task ticked off my to-do list gives me immense satisfaction. Jason, on the other hand, prefers to wait till the last moment before embarking on any work. I used to have a big problem with that style. For one, I perceived that his work quality would be compromised. Furthermore, simply waiting (for no apparent good reason) for a task to be completed gets on my nerves. 

I was so wrong. I have come to realize that the work quality Jason produces is often great and he is playing to his strengths. Strangely, the quality of his work dips when I force him to do the work at a time (often way before a deadline) when he is not motivated. I have since learnt to play to his strengths. We have created some boundaries that work for the both of us. I'm glad to say we now enjoy a great partnership in Strengths School™, Singapore.

How can a person with Adaptability turn this talent into a Strength? Here are some suggestions:

1. HAVE A TEAM-SUCCESS PHILOSOPHY

Recognize that a majority work better being prepared rather than to react. Tap on your other talents to do some kind of planning. Not working with a plan sends messages to others that you are lazy and have a nonchalant attitude. Instead, grab opportunities to demonstrate you are committed to the success of the team. Volunteer for roles that require more on-the-spot performances such as giving presentations or handling client enquiries etc. Set an internal deadline for yourself (1-2 days before the actual) and react to that deadline. It might be a way of "preparation" that works for you and the team. For the record, this works very well for me and Jason.

2. GAIN THE NECESSARY SKILLS FOR FACILITATION

As one with Adaptability, you might be one who prides yourself in being "fully present" in conversations and dialogues. You tend to have eye contact with the person speaking and you are 100% attentive. In fact, you might not like people who are constantly on their phones during meetings. This ability to respond to changes and the ability to be 100% attentive often gives people with Adaptability the edge in facilitating meaningful dialogues and in coaching conversations. You are able to notice changes in body language and tone and can make the necessary adjustments to be a good facilitator. A good skill set to pick up would be acquiring good questioning techniques for productive conversations with others. Being able to give a good summary of different inputs by people is another valuable skill that can complement this talent. Going for coaching or facilitation courses to enhance your skills will be a worthy consideration.

3. SEEK COMPLEMENTARY PARTNERSHIPS

- Partner people strong in Discipline
People strong in Discipline have the ability to create order amidst chaos and they are very good in creating structures. Having such partners allow people with Adaptability to collaborate and put together broad structures in place, especially in a team environment. These structures provide people with Adaptability the flexibility that they need while giving the rest of the team members a system to work with them. Having these structures in place can enhance teamwork by creating greater synergy and lessening conflicts. 

- Partner people strong in Futuristic
People strong in Futuristic are able to envision what the future looks like. They complement people with Adaptability, who tend to focus on things that are happening "now". Pairing a reactive person (Adaptability) with a person who envisions (Futuristic) creates a dynamic partnership that responds powerfully to current challenges while staying focused on a vision that will bring about future success. 

- Partner people strong in Command
People strong in Command have a tendency to lead and direct while people with Adaptability often see and pride themselves as good followers. In difficult times, Command makes difficult decisions that sometimes require making substantial changes to original plans. People with Adaptability are great partners who often can respond and react well to these changes. Such partnerships are pivotal to achieving team outcomes, often during an unexpected turn of events.


Ending note: The people with Adaptability have a way of life and working style that is unique. Rather than impose a style on them that stifles them, it is often more beneficial to appreciate their unique style and to leverage the Adaptability talent towards a great outcome.


Written by Victor Seet
Activator • Communication • Strategic • Self-Assurance • Command

As a Gallup Certified Singapore Strengthsfinder coach, Victor is passionate about strengths engagement and now runs his own training company, Strengths School™ (strengthsschool.com), based in Singapore. He has been actively giving Strengthsfinder leadership and team building workshops to businesses and schools in Singapore as well as Hong Kong, China (Shanghai) and India.