How To Stay Adaptable as a Remote Team

      Conversations among leaders worldwide have shifted from crisis management to looking forward…seeing opportunities for new ways of working effectively and creatively with their teams.

      In the past, many statistics told us agile teams were more productive and team members had better relationships when they were co-located.

      “People need to be in the same space to really collaborate well,” one leader shared months ago.

      This same leader is now seeing employees from around the world collaborating on projects they never would have been asked to work on together.

      “I am seeing a whole new world of possibilities open up!” he said on our last call.

      “I did not realize how stuck in my ways I was until I was forced to think about teams differently. We are moving faster at putting the right people together and achieving greater results. We are no longer bound by the walls of the office building.”

      This leader clearly demonstrated that he could move from a fixed mindset to a growth mindset and that his thinking did not have to remain static. In Carol Dweck’s book Mindset: The New Psychology of Success, she explores the power of our beliefs.

      If you believe that your qualities are unchangeable, fixed, like “This is the way it has worked best in the past so this is the only way to do it going forward.”, you will want to prove yourself correct over and over again rather than try to learn from your mistakes.

      The growth mindset is highlighted by an authentic desire to learn and be open to better ways.

      “Why waste time proving over and over how great you are,” Dweck writes, “when you could be getting better?” 

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      Another concept that was highlighted way back in 2011 was along the same lines as growth mindset, the Adaptability Quotient (AQ). The Harvard Business Review announced in 2011 that adaptability is the new competitive advantage. This certainly has been powerfully highlighted this year! 

      People with high AQ have the following characteristics:

      • Open mind – focused in remaining open to possibilities and embracing the world through fresh eyes.

      • Open heart – demonstrating empathy and trying to understand another person’s position, even if they don’t initially agree.

      • Open will - putting aside one’s ego and being okay with saying ‘I don’t know all the answers.”

      How is Your Mindset Affecting Your Team?

      Leaders and teams are experiencing success, or struggle depending on their beliefs around what’s possible!

      Think about the last few conversations you have had with one of your direct reports or your teams.

      What kind of language have you been using? What has your perspective been? Are you stuck in trying to recreate what was or are you demonstrating openness to new ways of doing things?

      Are you seeing opportunities to reset expectations and clarify your vision for success or are you focused on ‘getting back to normal’? 

      What’s Your Next Move?

      How can you demonstrate and promote growth mindset, agility and adaptability?

      1. Assess your own mindset – how would you rate yourself in the areas of growth mindset, agility and adaptability? What behaviors reinforce your perspective? Have some fun with this free AQ Assessment!

      2. Get some feedback – I love the Start, Stop, Continue exercise from Marshal Goldsmith’s book “What Got You Here Won’t Get You There” and often assign it to clients who are seeking to clarify that what they see in themselves aligns with what others experience from them.
        • Do an individual exercise - Ask for feedback from your team on your leadership mindset – What can I Start, Stop, Continue to demonstrate more of a growth or adaptable mindset?
        • Do a team exercise – What can we as a team Start, Stop, Continue to demonstrate increased adaptability and agility?

      3. Pause - When someone comes up with a new idea, a new way of doing business, an ‘off the wall’ suggestion…PAUSE…and then ask questions to explore the possibilities within that suggestion.

      4. Do a Post mortem - analyze the elements of the project after it is finished (or at regular intervals during a project is even better) with the mindset of setting a new bar for success:
        • What worked well? OR What is working well?
        • What didn’t work? OR What isn’t going well?
        • What did you/we learn? OR What are we learning that we didn’t know when we started?
        • What was the impact? Was it the impact you/we intended? OR Let’s reconnect with the impact we want to have? Are we on track toward that vision?
        • What would have made it substantially more successful? OR What can we do to make it even more successful?
        • How high do you/we want to set the bar going forward?

      The current situation has given many leaders the opportunity to ‘re-think’ their own leadership and their ideas around agile teams.

      One leader was sharing that she now considers people from other departments or other countries that might be a great addition to her team. She believes this employee will bring new insights and a different perspective.

      This was not something she had considered a few months ago. “If I’m being honest,” she confessed, “it seemed easier to work with who was in front of me, in the room, in the office, even if they were not the best fit or had the right expertise for the team.”

      What have you been learning about yourself and your teams over the past few months?

      We’d love to hear your insights and learn from you!


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