adaptive leadershipIt’s a hard pill to swallow as a business owner, but your success is incredibly fragile.


Because your market, niche, and audience are evolving rapidly, perhaps too rapidly to keep up with—even if you don’t realize it. Newer, more agile competitors crop up like mushrooms. Unburdened by legacy systems, these start-ups are free to dream up whatever business model is most likely to suit and succeed in the market du jour. (Hello, subscription boxes! Streaming! Delivery apps! E-books! And a whole manner of other concepts and models that have outmoded traditional ones, leaving the legacy players scrambling to compete). New apps, ideas, and technology debut constantly, rapidly disrupting multibillion industries. Despite this, most business leaders won’t make meaningful updates to their business model; they won’t move faster than the pace of innovation. Will you?

How to Become An Adaptable Leader:

Companies who fail (or are sluggish) to adapt to a changing marketplace become the next BlackBerry®, Blockbuster®, and Toys “R” Us® in the news cycle, meaning adaptability has emerged as the silent determinant of success in the modern era.

So what does this all mean for you? In short, you need to begin brainstorming the strategic adaptations that need to happen in your company. How? You can start by reviewing and internalizing the following building blocks of adaptive leadership:

  • Dynamic Product Creation. Your audience will age and their expectations will shift. The market surrounding them is continually pulsing with change. Adapt and update accordingly. Systemize a process by which you update, correct, and rework your product or service.  
  • Know your “false knowns” and “underexploited knowns.” Your company could be hindered by what Harvard Business Review calls “false knowns” (questionable but firmly held assumptions) and “underexploited knowns” (megatrends you may recognize and perhaps have even acted on, but without sufficient speed or emphasis).
  • Competition Assessment. Look for strengths in their product that may highlight a weakness in yours. Measuring them against your strengths should be dead last when you assess them. Study the underdog. From Blockbuster to Netflix®, cab companies to Uber®, BlackBerry® to Apple®, there is a lot to be learned from a wily new competitor.
  • Outsider perspective. Bringing in outsider perspective is critical to innovation. So don’t be so quick to  shut down the intern who comes into the office with a bevy of comments and suggestions about what you could do better. Outsider perspective is pure and unclouded, giving you a window into the changes you need to be making that may not be readily apparent to you.
  • Evenly dispersed autonomy (decision-making power). Amazing things happen when you give your employees room to make their own judgment calls. When too many decisions fall squarely on a small group of senior leaders, there is a far greater chance, in the absence of crowd insight, they could “miss something” or fail to see the merit of an initiative which may be totally evident to those employees “on the ground.” It only took a few headshakes from higher-ups at Blockbuster to dismiss the merits of streaming! Understanding the new needs of a changing market is a collaborative endeavor.

The above building blocks are sampled from the full, 23-page report on adaptive leadership: Adapt or Die. We urge you to not fall behind the curve of innovation and competition. Rich with case studies, insights, and actionable tasks for readers, Adapt or Die challenges business owners to reassess their business model, understanding of the market, and management style. Share Adapt or Die with your professional network, coworkers, and employees.

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