Flexible Leaders

Flexible Leaders Adopt the “Plan-Reschedule-Repeat” Cycle

Flexible Leaders Adopt the “Plan-Reschedule-Repeat” Cycle. Living through the COVID-19 Pandemic created what I call a “Plan-Reschedule-Repeat” cycle which affected both our personal lives as well as our work life. As a leader, it is imperative to be flexible. In a previous blog, “The Best Leaders Are Resilient,” we discussed the word Resilience which means “the ability of a person to adjust to or recover readily from illness, adversity, or major life changes.” I want to emphasize the trait of being flexible. Dictionary.com defines the word “flexible” as “capable of being bent, usually without breaking, susceptible of modification or adaptation, adaptable.”

These two concepts may seem similar, but they are different traits—and leaders must possess both. You can be flexible with your schedule and don’t mind last-minute changes to your plans. At the same time, your ability to recover from a major life event may be low and, therefore, you are not a very resilient individual.

I am a planner. Sometimes people ask me, “How do you accomplish so much?” My response has always been: “Because I plan everything. If you don’t plan, nothing gets done.” This is a positive trait. However, I am also not an impromptu type of person. Changed plans and last-minute activities cause me stress. Over the years and as I matured, I learned several ways to improve my flexibility trait.

Below are five tips that helped me to be more flexible in my personal life as well as in the workplace as a leader. I hope they help you too.

Schedule open time.

If you plan “open time” then you still enjoy the planning, but you leave a window of time to experience flexibility and practice being impromptu. If nothing happens, then the unused open time at work allows you to work on projects! Unused open time at home provides an opportunity to rest or catch up on whatever you want.

Flexible leaders know their priorities.

My daughter loves to do impromptu activities and when she was in college, she often called me on a Saturday to spend time with me. Saturdays are my “writing days” and, as you can imagine, I had my day planned. So, when she asked me to go to the beach or the mall, I asked myself these questions: “What’s more important: to spend quality time with my daughter or to write?” and “How many moms would love to have their college daughters wanting to spend quality time with them?” The answer to these questions was easy. I’m going to go out with my daughter! Knowing your priorities in life helps you be flexible.

Change your attitude toward flexibility.

Even when you plan your day, you can have an open attitude for the possibility that meetings can change, events rescheduled, and vacations cancelled—all because someone got sick. If you implement the “Plan-Reschedule-Repeat” mentality, you simply admit this is your new reality and move forward.

Flexibility opens doors to new opportunities.

During the first year of the Pandemic, most in-person events cancelled for professional speakers. Because I was ready to speak virtually having taught webinars for the past four years, new opportunities opened to me. I presented virtually nationwide and even one international event in the Philippines. Technology allows us to work and interact easier than ever. Being flexible is crucial to take advantage of these opportunities when they present themselves.

Be intentionally flexible.

As a planner, it is hard to be intentionally flexible and “go with the flow.” Practicing flexibility with cancelled flights is by far my biggest challenge—especially when I travel by myself. I learned through countless experiences to not stress out too much, always bring something to work on or read, and ensure I have food to last me for the duration of the delay. One strategy I now use is that I only travel to places where direct flights are an option. I avoid stops as much as possible.

Flexible leaders adopt the “Plan-Reschedule-Repeat” Cycle regardless of circumstances. Some leaders are more flexible than others, but you can always improve in your flexibility trait. I hope these tips and adopting the “Plan-Reschedule-Repeat” mentality help you in your journey to becoming a more flexible person—both at home and at work.