Embracing Change: The First Step to Successful Leadership Transitions

Adaptability is a key component of successful leadership, especially in times of transitions. Learn how to combat the overwhelm that often accompanies these changes and inhibits adaptation.

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Embracing Change: The First Step to Successful Leadership Transitions

Survival of the fittest is a myth, a misstatement of the actual result of Charles Darwin’s theory.

Adaptability is the most important aspect of species’ survival on this planet was the actual result of Darwin’s studies.

Adaptation is also how we not only survive but thrive.

Especially when we take on new leadership roles within a familiar company or a new one.

The good news is that women leaders are uniquely wired for adaptation if we allow ourselves that space to adapt.

Today is the first in a four-part series on various aspects of The Art of Adaptation: Learning and Success in Leadership Transitions

Embracing Change: The First Step to Successful Leadership Transitions

It’s amazing how often we resist change rather than embrace it – especially when it’s change we don’t like.

Let’s face it. Human beings are creatures of habit. We like our routines. We like the comfort of familiar faces and surroundings. Yes, we like our vacations and adventures too, but most of us like to come back to a familiar place where we feel safe.

Change puts us out of our comfort zone and often leads to feelings of overwhelm.

I had a client who took on a big new role in a new organization. She also moved herself and her family to a new city, bought a new house, and struggled at first to find her way around a new area.

It’s no wonder she was overwhelmed.

Plus, she put a lot of pressure on herself to prove herself in the first 90 days.

Sound familiar? We often go into new roles feeling like we should be just as competent as we were in our old job, our old company. Immediately.

And it doesn’t help that we get a lot of external pressure for that too. After all, they’ve just hired an “expert”. You. They need you. They expect you to right the ship, set a new course, and make sure the right crew is on board. Now.


But overwhelm isn’t a good place from which to succeed. Nor is fear, frustration, or panic.

So what do you do with those very natural and normal feelings?

The first thing to do is to breathe! Yes, breathe. Slowly, deeply, with mindful intention. Get in touch with the rhythm of your breathing. Slow it down. Settle. It’s important to keep your nervous system as calm as possible so that you are working from the wiser part of your brain, not the reactionary part.

The next thing is to have empathy for yourself. As women leaders, we often expect much more of ourselves than others do or that we expect of others. We believe that we must quickly and easily build relationships, get our offices (and homes) settled, and make sure that everyone around us is comfortable – even when we aren’t comfortable ourselves.

Give yourself a break. If you don’t. No one else will.

Recognize that this is a time of stress and prioritize self-care, especially if you feel like you don’t have the time for it.

This pressure on time is one of the many lies that our saboteurs tell us. When you hear yourself think, “I don’t have time to … workout, take a walk, eat a healthy meal, meditate, journal, get a massage or haircut.” Stop!!!

You do have time. Maybe not for all of those things all at once. But you have time for a least two or three of them every day.

Why? Because you’ll be more productive, efficient, and effective if you do.

I fall into that trap sometimes myself, especially the workout one. But the reality is that when I take the time to workout, my mind is clearer. I’m calmer and more focused. And I end up getting much more done. The same is true of my other daily self-care practices.

Self-care puts us in the right frame of mind to be able to embrace change rather than resist it or become overwhelmed.

Finally, be curious about everything. Yes, everything. Curiosity is how we learn, and when we learn we adapt much more quickly.

Rather than think “I have to solve this problem right now.” Be curious. Ask yourself “What else do I need to know about this problem, situation, or person? What else do I need to understand? What do other people know or think?”

We often feel that we have to have all the answers, but when we go down that road, we’re not adapting. We’re projecting. We’re putting pressure on ourselves. We setting ourselves up for failure.

Curiosity is a major tool in being more adaptable – and less overwhelmed.

Breath, Empathy, and Curiosity are three powerful antidotes for overwhelm and foundations for adaptability.

The series will continue next week… but in the meantime, remember this:

Adaptation in leadership isn’t just about surviving; it’s about thriving. Embracing change allows us to mold not just our careers, but also the very essence of leadership itself. As you step into your dream job, the art of adaptation is the beautiful dance between who you were and who you are becoming.

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