Survival of the fittest. Evolution has shown, that the species who want to survive need to be able to adapt to new surroundings, new conditions no matter where or when. Fast forward to today, this theory seems to have been lost. Imagine a company. They hire a few people and to determine who of them is the best, they put them through a series of difficult tasks and exercises and see who comes out on top. The rest is laid off and this person advances. This is not necessarily a bad thing, as this person is surely very qualified for the job, but what about the others? What if among the other candidates there was somebody who could be a real asset to the firm but they didn’t even get a proper chance to prove themselves.
Instead of this Hunger Games approach, how about something different. Now, the whole concept of testing people at the beginning is not entirely bad. You should see what people are made of (and this doesn’t only apply to companies – anybody who is leading a group of people can take this into consideration). But instead of putting cream in the coffee and waiting for one to rise, instead of testing who can run the fastest, give them a series of exercises that test their adaptability. Having someone with that skill can be your greatest asset, because no matter what happens, they will not only be able to deal with it but they might actually help others do so as well. Create an environment for the people where they have to face challenges of different kinds, situations that differ and are forced to take decisions on their own. That will show you who the true leaders are. The “sink or swim” approach is so 2004.
After this initial ‘testing period’, the worst thing you can do is let people get comfortable. If people start getting comfortable, not only will they probably stop giving their best but they might actually start getting bored and decide not to proceed. As a good leader you not only have to act as a role model and show adaptability in all situations, but you have to challenge others to do the same. Give them the chance to show what they’re made of, give them some responsibility and their attitudes will change in an instant. Challenge them to try new things and expand their skillset. Robert Shea said “Individuals, too, who cultivate a variety of skills seem brighter, more energetic and more adaptable than those who know how to do one thing only.”
Create a diverse environment for people, give them the space to grow and the results will be incredible. You will not only see people flourish, but whatever it is that you’re working on will benefit greatly as well. Be the kind of leader that people aspire to be. That is the best thing you can do. How adaptable are you?2