The Best Laid Plans…

As I begin my seventh week at AlphaSights, one of the most important leadership lessons I’ve learned is the importance of adaptability in the workplace. While I did not know exactly what to expect at the start of my internship, I never could have expected the ways in which different projects would unfold or how quickly things could change in the workplace. This past week was particularly unpredictable, which led me to reflect on both my leadership courses’ emphasis on the importance of flexibility in leaders, and the work I’ve accomplished as a Client Protection Summer Associate.

So far, I have completed rotating weekly operational responsibilities during my six weeks on the desk. Everyday I approve Client Services projects and evaluate any potential compliance and legal risks stemming from different project scopes (upwards of 100 per day), I analyze client and advisor requests as they pertain to our legal team (upwards of 30 per day), I approve written exchanges between clients and advisors (depending on the week, upwards of 30 per day), and I collaborate with the Client Protection team to evaluate more situational questions about the company’s legal framework, compliance concerns, or client and advisor questions. On top of my operational work, I am in the process of completing a long-term individual intern project which I will present to Client Protection’s global team, I am presenting a training to the global team with my co-intern over the next two weeks, and I help teammates when I have the capacity. Essentially, I have lots of responsibilities, each with their own urgency and stakeholders  — which makes prioritization and adaptability important skills to succeed.

This past week, I expected things to carry on as they had during the past month. However, I had several curve balls thrown my way between Monday and Wednesday: our Client Protection team had a new high priority responsibility stemming from the CEO and Chief Legal Counsel’s politically sensitive project analysis report, one of the full time associates resigned due to chronic health issues, and my long-term project was completely thrown out the window due to miscommunication between my Manager and Vice President. Needless to say, I was feeling overwhelmed given all the rapid and intense changes thrown my way on top of my daily tasks and responsibilities.

The three major changes from this past week showed a real-life application of my leadership courses and professors’ beliefs that being flexible and open minded can carry leaders through difficult and stressful situations outside their control. I could not have known that Client Protection’s already busy workload would be modified by our new project auditing responsibilities, I could not have known the full time associate would step down due to her declining health, and I most definitely could not have known there was a miscommunication between my bosses that caused me to realign on my project and start over just two weeks from the deadline. Nonetheless, my ability to stay calm and focus on how I could control different aspects of the circumstances around me helped me focus and rebound from setbacks during a chaotic week, demonstrating leadership abilities and impressing my bosses.

Moving forward, I understand that while I cannot always control external factors in situations, I can control how I respond to change and feedback — a lesson important to me as a leader. The sooner I accept the changing environment around me, the sooner I can continue contributing to the team and improving as a worker. From this perspective, my personal contributions to the workplace are not only operational, but also mental; my energy, adaptability, and can-do attitude help the team succeed just as much as my daily work. While the best laid plans often fall apart, the ability to bounce back and accept changes can be more valuable to a team than any skilled operational work contributions.