This factor is defined as our ability to adapt and adjust our feelings, thinking and behavior to new situations and conditions. This component of emotional-social intelligence refers to our overall ability to adapt to unfamiliar, unpredictable and dynamic circumstances. Flexible people are agile, synergistic and capable of reacting to change without rigidity. These people are able to change their minds when evidence suggests that they are mistaken. They are generally open to and tolerant of different ideas, orientations, ways and practices. They do not experience difficulty beginning new things or making adjustments in general. They are typically resilient and can easily take on new tasks.
Based on research findings, flexibility is closely associated with the ability to adjust to different social environments. As such, it is an extremely important EI factor for individuals as well as organizations and a major contributor to organizational survival. In order to survive in a dynamic market economy, organizations must be flexible and ready to rapidly and adequately meet change. Flexibility is considered to be one of the most important managerial competencies by the US Office of Personnel Management. In addition to managerial competencies in general, this factor plays an important part in conflict resolution, negotiation, mergers and acquisitions.
This factor is important in leadership, because it drives the ability to multitask and resiliently adapt in order to address a rapidly changing environment, realities and new challenges. Multitasking depends on paying attention to and keeping track of the essential details in the leader’s immediate surroundings, in order to pivot and turn when need be. All of this determines how effective the leader will be in responding to altered situations and unexpected conditions. This characteristic is important for being resourceful, taking the initiative for immediate action, improvisation, resiliency and adaptability in the face of unpredictable and demanding scenarios.
Lack of flexibility can lead, in some cases, to catastrophic consequences for the organization as a whole. People who score low on the EQ-i™ Flexibility scale are likely to exhibit rigidity in their thinking and behavior; and they tend to resist change in general and in themselves in particular. Rigidity in leadership, and within organizations in general, represents a serious threat to corporate survival.