In my last blog post, I wrote about the predictability of people’s responses to negative change, and how leaders could use that information to lead change initiatives. Today’s blog post continues on that theme, and it was prompted by the t-shirt I saw displayed in a store during my recent trip to the Galapagos Islands (where Charles Darwin first postulated On The Origin of the Species). In case you’re looking at this post on a small screen, here’s what the t-shirt says:
It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is the most adaptable to change. — Charles Darwin
Obviously Darwin was talking from the perspective of science, but this is true of what happens in organizations and workplaces too. Think about your role as a leader – a supervisor, a team leader, or a manager – often we focus on building expertise and knowledge within our groups, so strength and intelligence, but we don’t often emphasize the development of adaptability and resilience. Then when the environment shifts – technology changes, customer expectations adjust, processes are modified – the expertise and knowledge loses its value, and people flounder. Instead, if our focus as leaders was to create an atmosphere of continuous learning, teach our employees to learn from their failures, and help them bounce back from disappointments, then we would actually set up people up for much greater success.
Well, what do you think? Is this a realistic expectation, or pie-in-the-sky thinking? Why do so many leaders focus on building expertise and knowledge rather than adaptability and resilience? Please add your Comments below.
P.S. Interestingly, there are some sources that suggest that Darwin actually never said these exact words. Nevertheless, I still like the quote, and from my perspective, if he didn’t say it, then he should have! 🙂