Managers Need To Learn How To Adapt In Order To Thrive

The world is changing, we need to learn to be flexible
The world is changing, we need to learn to be flexible Image Credit: Chrissy Wainwright

Hey manager – the world is changing. Are you ready for it? Let’s all be honest about how things are going: uncertainty is a key part of our everyday lives. As managers who are trying to use our manager skills to get the most out of our teams, it’s up to us to realize that change is happening and then to find ways to deal with it. What all of this means for us is that we need to find ways to become more flexible so that we can deal with all of the changes that are coming our way.

Dealing With Change

Let us all start things off by agreeing on one thing. These days we really can’t count on much. Uncertainty based on changes in the economy, our society, and politics has become so great as to render futile, if not counterproductive, the kind of manager training most managers still get. What too many of us have been doing is forecasting based on probabilities. Don’t get me wrong. Managers should not stop mapping out their objectives, anticipating hurdles, scheduling check-ins on major initiatives and so on. However, any plans that you make must not become a straitjacket in a world that now requires flexibility. Let us all agree that the need for flexibility is a principle that continues to hold true today. The Covid-19 pandemic reminded us that it is all the more salient as industries were upended in every sector of the economy.

What Makes Someone An Effective Manager?

It turns out that there are a number of leadership qualities that are the most prevalent found in senior managers at companies ranked highest in corporate effectiveness. These qualities include:

  • Tolerance of ambiguity
  • Adaptability
  • Risk-taking
  • Independence
  • Openness to differences

The companies that score highest on the gauge of corporate effectiveness are led by managers who are tolerant of ambiguity and are adaptable. What is starting to happen is that a leadership profile is emerging. This is starting to show the qualities that are most present in senior managers at the most effective companies. When we have to interpret vague or contradictory signals and are forced to continually transform a business it can overwhelm or exhaust a lot of managers. However, in some cases it energizes others. These managers have a fearlessness to them.

What Are The Common Qualities Of Effective Managers?

In order to understand what makes someone a good manager, we need to have a vocabulary to talk about their management style. “Traits” are preferences core to who a person is; “drivers” are what motivates someone; and “competencies” are observable skills that may come naturally but can also be acquired and sharpened with a manger’s experience. In combining two sets of results, a clear picture of effective managers materializes: the managers at the best-performing companies exhibit many common qualities from among the ones that have been examined. “Tolerance of ambiguity” has become the single strongest positive correlation with those managers that rank highest in innovation, social responsibility and financial strength. It comes in at No. 2 for managers that are tops in employee engagement and development.

“Adaptability” is No. 2 for managers that rank highest in customer satisfaction and social responsibility and No. 3 for those that shine in innovation and financial strength. “Risk-taking,” “independence,” “openness to differences,” “trust,” “power,” “curiosity” and “builds effective teams” were all among the 10 most prevalent qualities demonstrated by managers at the companies. It is important to understand that “Power” doesn’t describe a manager who favors a command-and-control approach; rather, it refers to a manager driven by responsibility and influence.

There are key differences between different managers also. For example, managers at companies that score especially well in customer satisfaction and social responsibility tend to display “affiliation” which is a preference for aligning with a larger team toward a mutual goal perhaps during team building. But that isn’t a trait with as much relevance for managers at companies that excel in financial strength or employee engagement and development. “Communicates effectively” is a competency that is, of course, widespread among managers at companies that outstrip the field in employee engagement and development. But that isn’t the case for managers at the most innovative corporations.

What All Of This Means For You

So what makes someone a good manager? Well, as with all such “big” questions it turns out that there is not just one answer. Managers have to have a number of different qualities that will allow us to adapt and grow in changing circumstances. We need to understand what qualities we need to have in order to be successful.

The world that we live in is constantly changing and that means that as managers we need to learn how to be flexible in order to change also. Studies have been conducted that show that the most successful managers have a shared set of qualities. These qualities are starting to appear as a profile of an effective manger. In order to describe what a good manager looks like we need to have a vocabulary that we can use to describe them. Good managers have qualities such as adaptability and independence. Different types of managers have different qualities. However, the ability to communicate effectively is something that we all need to have.

Every manager wants to become a better manager. What we need to understand is what makes someone a good manager in the first place. If we can get a good feel for this, then we’ll be able to realize what qualities we need to develop in ourselves in order to become better. Ultimately, the goal of every manager should be to be flexible enough to become a better manager.

– Dr. Jim Anderson Blue Elephant Consulting –
Your Source For Real World IT Management Skills™

Question For You: What would be the best way to find out what manager qualities you currently have?

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What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

Just exactly how important is honesty to you? If you are like most of us, you want the people that you interact with to be honest with you. However, the other way around may not go the same way. Do you ever tell a lie? I’m willing to bet that the answer to this question is yes. Now the only follow up question is how often? If you are like most of us, you have no problems lying about the small stuff (“Do I look fat to you?”, “Do you like this outfit?”) but do we lie about things that are a bigger deal also?