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How to be a ‘Flexible Leader’

Author: Mark Firth/Thursday, August 8, 2019/Categories: Blogs

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Flexibility is an essential skill to be an effective leader. To stay competitive, organizations are embracing change at a rapid pace. This fast paced change necessitates increased focus on developing and establishing the traits of flexibility and adaptability amongst leadership.

In the literal sense, flexibility means being open to new ideas and concepts, ability to work on an independent basis or with a team as the situation demands, and managing multiple projects without getting stumped when situations change at a moment’s notice. The ability or degree of readiness to which one adapts in such situations essentially determines one’s level of flexibility.

Flexibility is also an important trait when it comes to putting people at ease. It is often believed that the best leaders can connect with anyone, by being flexible in their own style to make the other person comfortable and able to contribute their best to the conversation or interaction. When challenging situations arise, flexibility as a leadership trait brings camaraderie and collaboration in the team.

In spite of the demands and constraints of a position, here’s how leaders can become more flexible and adaptive.

  • There is a well-known Chinese proverb that says that the wise adapt themselves to circumstances, as water molds itself to the pitcher. By being flexible to new ideas and open-minded enough to consider them, as a leader you increase the likelihood of finding the best possible solution to a given challenge.
  • Move out of your comfort zone. If a situation is uncomfortable, that probably means you have a chance to learn something new. This coming out of the comfort zone will enable you to look at the manner in which you engage with people, approach situations, make decisions, and evaluate opportunities.
  • Leadership is not just about building and shaping an organizational vision but also recognizing when it is time to listen to some good ideas from other team members. Flexibility is all about building a vision through collaboration. As the African proverb says, “If you want to go fast, go alone; if you want to go far, go together.”

To become an effective, flexible leader takes both, time and patience. Embrace the experiences, and seek the learning opportunities in each one. As you move towards being a flexible leader, you will be surprised to discover that your professional effectiveness has also increased. At The Taplow Group, we are adept at sourcing leaders for your organization who are able to "think on their feet" and can develop an organizational culture that values and encourages flexibility. To know more about our services, visit us at


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