Why It’s Important to be an Adaptable Leader

One of the fundamental skills of a good leader is the ability to adapt to other people’s needs. This includes adjusting your communication style, the questions you ask, the advice you give, and how you engage with staff in order to become a more effective leader and improve your workplace culture. To do this, it’s important to learn about your staff’s similarities and differences, and then utilize this information to tailor your approach to become an adaptable leader.

If personality differences among your team aren’t recognized, it can lead a poor communication. It can increase the likelihood of frustration, communication challenges, and conflict.

ACHIEVE has a workshop called Personality Differences in the Workplace that explores a range of characteristics and traits that influence how people think, process information, and make decisions. Here are the four main personality types defined in the workshop:

  • Analyzers are great at examining complex problems and making data-informed decisions. They prefer streamlined information, appreciate facts, and typically aren’t emotional decision makers.
  • Harmonizers deeply value relationships with others and want people to get along. They care about how others feel about decisions, are personable, and need time to express their emotions.
  • Intuitors are highly creative and can see multiple options to a solution. They are dreamers and thinkers, and are usually less structured and don’t want to feel confined.
  • Actualizers are action oriented and need clear details and direction. They prioritize organization, follow plans, and are realistic and practical in their problem-solving and decision-making.
It’s important to learn about your staff’s similarities and differences, and then utilize this information to tailor your approach to leadership.


An adaptable leader can adjust communication style based on personality differences.

We all know that any work environment is going to include people who are different than us. It’s important to recognize that people have different ways of thinking and varying expectations for how they want to be valued, respected, and communicated with. Completing some assessments of the teams you are working with (even if they’re informal), can help you better understand your team and yourself.

For example, if you want to learn how you can better communicate about an upcoming change with everyone on your team, have each member take a personality test. Our Work Styles Assessment provides insight into how individuals naturally think and their primary concerns regarding a change:

  • Analyzers like data and validation.
  • Harmonizers value how people feel and how their relationships will be impacted.
  • Intuitors are interested in knowing what options they have.
  • Actualizers want to know all the details.

Primarily, no one is just one type. But once you know the general mix of your group, you can tailor your leadership to ensure you’re effectively communicating about the change with everyone.


Think and plan before you take action.

Now that you know more about your team, come up with a change management strategy and plan how you will communicate the change to each person:

  • Harmonizers and Intuitors typically like information shared in person.
  • Actualizers and Analyzers prefer written communication with a clear, detailed plan.

These differences don’t mean that people get different information. Rather, being an adaptable leader is about presenting the information in such a way that everyone will understand the change and buy into it.

A helpful way to present a change to any group is to describe it before you meet. This gets everyone thinking about it ahead of time, so they can gather info on potential challenges or missed opportunities. When thinking about the rationale for a change, a helpful tip is to think about what each person making the decision might think about the problem and solution.

When people feel heard and understood, it’s easier for them to make a decision and adopt the change.

For example, if you want to change a process, you need to explain why. Include data-driven information to show why there’s a problem that needs to be addressed or improvement that could be made. Explain the impacts of not making the change, and emphasize that the current process is based on old direction and needs to be refreshed.

This strategy will help the information resonate with each personality type in the group and will improve communication and buy-in that this is an issue that needs to be addressed. Your solutions should be presented in a similar fashion to reduce resistance and target the priorities/values for each person. When people feel heard and understood, it’s easier for them to make a decision and adopt the change.


Plan how to communicate and share ideas.

The larger the group, the more challenging it is to communicate effectively because everyone is looking for something different. Some want information presented in person, while others want it written out. Some may need additional time to process information, while others want quick decisions and actions.

A good strategy is to ask people how they prefer to receive information. Once you understand this, you  can create an approach that will be streamlined for you, consistent for everyone, and inclusive of the variations in the team. Present the strategy to the group so they understand how to meet everyone’s needs and then you’ll have a good template.

A good strategy is to ask people how they prefer to receive information.


Assign work based on strengths.

Make sure your staff feel valued and understand what they bring to the organization. Assigning work based on each team member’s strengths and personality type will help them feel connected to the work. They’ll feel valued for their abilities, and will be empowered to help support others to learn about their approach.

If you want to start a new project, consider assigning parts of it to different people based on what they would be interested in.

  • Analyzers are great at gathering information, evaluating options, and measuring outcomes.
  • Harmonizers are excellent at building partnerships and developing a team atmosphere.
  • Intuitors excel at thinking about options that others might not consider and seeing how new things can be adopted into existing processes.
  • Actualizers are wonderful at creating a plan, detailing next steps, and setting timelines.

Don’t be afraid to assign work to individuals based on what they can bring to the table. Diversity can bring better ideas, clearer actions, improved outcomes, and wholesome decision-making.

Adaptable leaders are able to adjust their style and approach to those they are supporting.

Leadership skills are not always easy to implement, but adaptable leaders are able to adjust their style and approach to those they are supporting. Listening to and understanding your staff will improve relationships and help them feel valued at work. Although differences can be challenging, it also enhances solutions and outcomes. So, take the time to understand how each of your staff thinks and makes decisions, what they value in communication, and how they like to receive information.

To learn about additional free FREE RESOURCES, visit our resources page.  


Deanne Kaar

Trainer, ACHIEVE Centre for Leadership

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© Achieve Centre For Leadership (achievecentre.com)
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