Adaptability® Theme (CliftonStrengths®, formerly StrengthsFinder®)

Adaptability Theme CliftonStrengths StrengthsFinder
Image Credit: shutterstock/Yeongsik Im

Gallup CliftonStrengths® is an assessment of personality, rooted in the theory of positive psychology. Research indicates that people who know and use their strengths every day are more likely to experience positive emotions (energy, happiness, respect) and less likely to experience negative emotions (stress, worry, anger, sadness). The assessment identifies an individual’s top five “Signature Themes” from a list of 34 common talents. Individuals can then develop those talents into strengths, and apply those strengths in all areas of their life.

Overview of the Adaptability® Strength

Charles Darwin believed that adaptability was the key to species survival. And Abraham Lincoln once stated, “The best thing about the future is that it comes one day at a time.” Individuals with strong Adaptability® resonate on both of these fronts. They can think on their feet, roll with the punches, and accept change for what it is. They’re able to survive because they not only continue on but thrive in situations that would cause others to shut down.

Adaptability® is a “now” theme where people live ― and work in the moment. People who show adaptability through the Gallup CliftonStrengths® are people who view their futures as something that evolves one choice at a time, rather than something that is set in stone.

They are able to handle unexpected detours, sudden requests, and changes of plans without becoming agitated or overwhelmed. They are very flexible and able to maintain productivity and shift gears as needed when work and life demands pull them in a thousand directions at once.

How important is adaptability as a strength? The U.S. Marines Corps has a slogan: “Improvise, Adapt, and Overcome.” It is this mindset and mantra that allows them to keep moving forward amidst the chaos of combat. It also serves them well off the battlefield enabling them to become leaders in business, families, and communities across the country.

Action Items for the Adaptability® Strength

If you are someone who has the Adaptability® strength, there are some choices you can make and actions you can take that will serve you well in your career choices, the work you perform, and your life. Keep these things in mind to discover careers that are rewarding and fulfilling your unique strengths.

Avoid jobs that require routine and predictability. They will zap your will and waste your unique gifts.

Seek jobs that keep you on your toes and on the go. You thrive in roles where the scenery is constantly changing and new challenges await daily.

Remain calm during unexpected situations and help others (who do not have the gift of Adaptability®) remain calm too. This lets your light and leadership shine in tough situations.

Avoid roles that force you to plan and organize in favor of roles that are more action-oriented and value your independent spirit.

Jobs that are ideally suited for people with the Adaptability strength include: Emergency medicine, Journalism, Live television production, Customer service, Crisis management.

Working in these types of roles helps you maintain creativity, focus, and develop your own unique brand of leadership during a crisis.

How To Manage Someone with the Adaptability® Theme

As a manager of someone with a predominant Adaptability® strength, perhaps the biggest challenge you face is that of engagement. Some action items you can employ to not only help engage your employees who have the StrengthsFinder® theme of Adaptability®, but also thrive include:

Inform adaptable employees about plans and strategies but don’t expect them to participate in the process. Remember, this employee loves to react and respond.

Allow your adaptable employees to run with things when balls get dropped and see what kind of magic they can work.

Keep assignments short-term and of immediate urgency to play to an adaptable employee’s strengths.

Limit requirements for participation in meetings that do not play to his or her strengths, like goal-setting sessions, planning meetings, and business strategy meetings. Remember, this individual thrives in the “here-and-now”.

Gallup®, Clifton StrengthsFinder®, StrengthsFinder®, CliftonStrengths® and each of the 34 CliftonStrengths® theme names are trademarks of Gallup, Inc. For more information, or to take the CliftonStrengths® assessment, visit