Our teams are ready to adapt, are we?


“Adaptation is not allowing yourself to give in to circumstances; it’s allowing those circumstances to give you success.”
- Ken Blanchard and Don Shula

This week we learned of the passing on Don Shula, the legendary National Football League coach of the Miami Dolphins. I grew up watching Mr. Shula’s football teams play and win time and again. I often marveled at how the team was successful year-over-year given the high level of competition in the NFL. It is not too dissimilar to the accomplishments of the New England Patriots over the last 20 years. Finding victory, time and again, irrespective of the odds.

Learning of Mr. Shula’s passing triggered a memory of reading “the little book of coaching”, a leadership book he and Ken Blanchard co-authored in 2001. I was presented this book by my good friend @Will Jacobs in May 2015 amid a turbulent time in our business environment. Will, in his inscription, referenced the quote I opened this blog with. I think this advise is as good today as it was in 2015, and perhaps even more so in the current environment.

Successful companies and individuals are highly adaptive. Moreover, employees are often more adaptable than their leaders believe. In this month’s HBR article “Your Workforce Is More Adaptable Than You Think” by Joseph B. Fuller , Judith K. Wallenstein , Manjari Raman and Alice de Chalendar, the authors explain that:

“Many managers have little faith in their employees’ ability to survive the twists and turns of a rapidly evolving economy.”

Interestingly this pessimistic leadership view is not how workers perceive the future. In a study conducted in 2018 surveying thousands of employees around the world regarding the future of work the authors discovered that “[workers] focused more on the opportunities and benefits that the future holds for them, and they revealed themselves to be much more eager to embrace change and learn new skills than their employers gave them credit for.”

The authors go on to share three observations that workers have on the future of work including:

  • Workers seem to recognize more clearly than leaders do that their organizations are contending with multiple forces of disruption, each of which will affect how companies work differently.
  • Workers seem to be more adaptive and optimistic about the future than their leaders recognize.
  • Workers are seeking more support and guidance to prepare themselves for future employment than management is providing.

As a leader, I am encouraged by these observations. Our team members are ready and willing to adapt, they only ask for support and guidance to help them along the way. Just like how Mr. Shula provided vision and clarity to his teams, we business and governmental leaders have an obligation to do the same.

In today’s COVID-19 fueled environment, change is accelerating at an incredible speed. It will be the teams at all levels and across industries that are able adapt to these circumstances that will find success.

Are you ready to lead your teams through the change? How are you preparing your organizations to adapt to the emerging business realities?

Interested in learning more about our work at the RPS.Academy? You can follow us on our LinkedIn business page or check our current book available now on Amazon.

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