Have you ever attempted a challenge… only to fail miserably? Recently I failed a 21-day wellness challenge. My goals were to 1) drink 64 ounces of water daily, 2) improve sleep through meditation and essential oils before bed, and 3) improve agility through daily stretches and outside walks.
Why did I Fail?
Why did I fail? Let me count the excuses! Some days I would “forget” to do the stretches. Certainly, watching one more episode of Bridgerton before bed would be good for the soul — until falling asleep minus the new bedtime routine. 16 degrees Fahrenheit is obviously too cold for the dog to take a walk. My excuses are all symptoms of the root issue: I failed to adapt. Trying to take on too much too quickly, I did not replace my old habits with new behaviors.
My one success was drinking more water. Why? Habit stacking. I layered drinking water with other habits that were already fixed. I kept water besides my bed drinking when I woke up. Waiting for my coffee to brew, I drank 8 oz. And I associated drinking with starting my next meeting. And the benefits of my successful change? I have more energy and my skin is less dry. To be successful I had to unlearn bad behaviors, learn what works, habit stack, and track the benefits.
Success Through Adaptability
To work successfully across various cultural situations, we also need to unlearn, learn, habit stack, and experience the benefits. We need to learn to adapt (CQ Action). CQ Action is the most difficult of the 4 cultural intelligence (CQ) skills to master because it builds on the other three (CQ Drive, Knowledge, and Strategy). According to Korn Ferry, “Adaptability means you not only can stay focused on your goals, but also can easily adjust how you achieve them.”
When we are asked to adapt our cultural values (what to us seems right and true), we naturally resist. Resistance can also relate to our level of cultural intelligence. Let’s say you get frustrated while working on a diverse project team. You prefer working autonomously within the project scope, coming back later to the group with the near final deliverable. However, others want to meet often, work collectively, and consult with other stakeholders before the final deliverable. The result is frustration!
Or consider you are leading a new initiative. You set expectations with your cross-functional team. You communicate frequently to ensure success. Yet two weeks in and your initiative is at a stand still. People complain “are we sure this will work? What is our back-up plan? What a disruption to our current procedures! Without approval from legal, finance, and senior leadership we can’t move ahead.” The initiative is halted, and you want to shout “Change is necessary! Can’t you just be flexible and explore the unknown?”
There is no right or wrong in these scenarios — just a different way of operating. The power comes in adapting effectively. Remaining authentically true to oneself, a culturally intelligent leader learns when to adapt to make others feel comfortable.
How can you harness the power of adaptability?
- Unlearn your core values as the only approach. Create a checklist for something you do regularly. Now create a second checklist for involving people from different cultures. What should you adapt about your communication, dress, expressiveness, follow-through, deadline flexibility?
- Learn your cultural values. Take a cultural values assessment comparing your values to others
- Stack new habits. Start a 5 or 7 day challenge and put the unlearning and learning into practice!
- Track the benefits. Make a list of the benefits you can gain by adapting effectively across cultures
Follow these four steps to adapt successfully. And, you will find that you have also improved your cultural intelligence.
Your Coach and Inclusion Strategist,
For additional details or questions or to schedule a complimentary discussion on how you can become more adaptable to maximize potential and transform to lead a more balanced, happier and impactful life, please email me at email@example.com