The Nature of Leadership – Part 2 Adapt, Migrate, or Die

By Tom Davidson

Just like nature, businesses need to adapt to the ever changing environment and scene. The business world is constantly changing, and how you deal with those changes will determine your outcome for sustainability.

Just as every organism in nature ultimately has three choices, so does every leader in every job in our organizations: adapt, migrate or die!

Adapt. Nothing is static in nature or organizations. Our business environments are always changing in terms of technologies, strategies and competitive threats. Successful leaders must also adapt to a changing workforce with vastly different mindsets, motivations and approaches to work. Moreover, as new managers ascend in the organization, they must grow the range and depth of skills or they will fail to develop fast enough. As a result, adaptation has become the number one competency for contemporary leaders.

Migrate. Just as many animal species in nature have to migrate from one environment to another, people sometimes have to make similar choices to survive and thrive in the long run. Finding one’s best “fitting” job and organization can be a lifelong journey; the sooner managers discover what this means to them, the sooner they will find happiness and success in their work. But because organizations are changing so quickly and dramatically, fit can be fleeting. When one discovers they are no longer a good fit in their job or organization, it might be time to consider a migration.

Die. For plants and animals in nature, the third choice is quite literal; they die. But for people in organizations, this choice means to derail. Derailments include being fired for lack of success, but this is not the only kind of failure. Derailment also includes reaching a plateau in one’s career or falling short of one’s true potential. When leaders start to derail, it may be time to adapt or migrate before it’s too late.

Unlike most plants and animals in nature, you have a choice about how you cope with changes in your life and career. The more you are aware of your circumstances and the more deliberate you are in your choices, the happier and more successful you will be. Moreover, if you supervise others, do all you can to help them survive and thrive using this analogy about the wild lands of the workplace.

Which of these strategies do people in your organization need to use more of, start doing or stop doing?

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