Charles Darwin, the geologist behind the theory of evolution once said, “It is not the strongest or the most intelligent who will survive but those who are best at adapting to change.”

As a leader, you have to see change and adaptability to change as a two-pronged situation: one from the point of view of you as the leader and two, from the point of view of change among the people you are leading. You can change but if your team refuses, success will be diminished at the very least.

The types of personalities that accept change

Personality refers the combination of characteristics or qualities that form an individual’s distinctive character. A simple categorization of personality is the introvert versus to extrovert. Meyer Friedman preferred distinguishing personality according to Type A or the more competitive stress junkie type and the Type B the ones who tend to be laidback and less competitive. From the Myers Briggs framework, there are 16 types classified according to how a person processes his emotions, thoughts and actions and there is no superior or inferior type however there are certain personality types that tend to make better leaders. They are extroverts, intuitive, thinkers, and structured or ENTJ quadrant type. These types tends to be more logical, organized, have a high sense of self-awareness and able to adapt to changes without being emotional or negative.

How do you see change?

I only ask that you ask this of yourself because, not because of being in any category but it helps to understand your reaction to change. For instance, how about answering the following questions:

  1. What would you do if faced with a business emergency and you need to make a decision on the spot? Would you ask for more time? Would you refer the problem to someone else?
  2. Would you accept a promotion if it meant moving location?
  3. If you were given a great opportunity to make more money but it entailed a certain amount of risk with your personal finances, what would you do?
  4. Would you stay in a job you are comfortable with or take a chance on a startup?

How you see change will determine your succeeding actions. If you fear change, you will avoid it at all costs. If you have no choice but to accept the change, you again have two choices: be willing or unwilling to adapt. Adapting to change in a positive way means setting aside your personal feelings if the feelings are negative or making the decision to walk away. If you fight change, you start on a path of negativity and resentment.

The second aspect to change: how your team responds

Once you start to understand your reaction to change, the need to understand the responses of the people you lead comes next. Assuming you make pivotal decisions that will affect the people you lead, how they would react? Would their responses even matter to you?

I would certainly care whether my team not only accepts but also understands where I am coming from when I make business decisions. It would mean:

  • Smoother flow of business operations
  • Stronger loyalty among the team members
  • Higher productivity
  • Improved team bonding and unity
  • And reveal kinks in the team spirit that can be fixed and addressed properly

According to research, team members or employees react in 4 different ways to change:

  1. They are resistant preferring traditional, time-tested ways. These employees or team members tend to be inflexible, even difficult. I wouldn’t call them troublemakers and would try to tease their imagination so they see outside their box
  2. They are open-minded. These are usually the younger ones who are less steeped in tradition. They transition easily with change but can be over-eager to test the boundaries.
  3. They are willing to give it a chance but have reservations. I like this kind of reaction because it brings out the leader in me. I feel compelled to make any changes successful and it prods me to think very seriously and carefully before coming to a major decision. This type of reaction also makes me work harder prior to announcing a decision and being well-prepared to answer any questions about my decision.
  4. They don’t care what I do, say, or think. These are the guys who just want to be left alone doing the same thing day in and day out. They are noncommittal and willing to move to another team that has a better offer.

Where do your team members fall under?

In a 2008 study by the Economist Intelligence Unit, there are 3 leadership qualities that are crucial to success today: ability to motivate others, ability to work with different kinds of people and cultures, and ability to effect change.

How to effect and adapt to change

Changing and effecting change in others are skills that can be learned. Here’s what you can do for yourself and for others:

Make small changes in your daily routine a habit. Instead of drinking latte, drink decaf. Instead of taking the lift, take the stairs. Instead of talking to your boss, talk to your staff. Instead of eating lunch in your table, go join your colleagues at the cafeteria. Instead of waving goodbye to your spouse, kiss her goodbye. There are many things you can change today. It will make life a lot more exciting!

Aside from making small changes, don’t turn down new experiences. Don’t automatically say “No!” If someone asks you out, give her a chance and go out for coffee. Instead of going to the gym, try dancing. Instead of shopping wholesale, buy a gourmet product (a small one!)

Once you start making small changes in your personal life, it will be easier to accept business changes. Furthermore, if you take your team along with you on your journey of small changes, they too will be more open to changing. Be with them, instead of knocking down their suggestions. Welcome them and give constructive comments instead of frowning. Smile and instead of seeing change as destabilizing, see it as inevitable growth.

What small changes will you make this week to achieve more of what you want in your business?