Simply put, adaptability means open to change and in the fast changing, highly technological workplace of today, this soft skill is prized.
We can be adaptable in different ways. Intellectual flexibility for example, refers to being able to keep an open mind - not missing the details but at the same time seeing the full picture. It’s easier said than done.
Then there’s receptiveness. That’s being receptive to demands and change and finding ways to achieve targets. Creativity is the skill of finding new ways of doing things that are beneficial.
When you go for job interviews, or probably before that, even at the CV stage, employers will be looking for proof that you are adaptable. How can this be shown? Living abroad on an exchange programme is one way to demonstrate your ability to adapt, especially if you immersed yourself in a foreign culture or learned a new skill. Part-time work whilst you study shows you can easily switch priorities. Work experience, internships and volunteering all show that you have it in you to adapt.
Business Schools, as well as employers, now offer training to make workers more adaptable. “The most important thing is to 'teach’ people to feel comfortable in uncomfortable situations", says Katleen De Stobbeleir, professor in leadership and coaching at Vlerick Business School, in Ghent Belgium.
At Wharton Business School, they use military leadership principles on their MBA programme to improve the students’ response to change. On training days with members of the US Army and the Marines, students experience intense military training exercises which put them on the spot to make decisions and adapt quickly in unpredictable and rapidly changing situations.