Despite common entrenched beliefs, leadership skills can learned. Building familiarity with Adaptive Leadership Theory, practicing reflection, and treating one’s environment as a “case in point” laboratory full of adaptive challenges helps leaders build up the arsenal of skills needed to effectively exercise adaptive leadership in and out of one’s workplace.
Heifetz et al. (2009) puts forth a model of adaptive leadership consisting of three elements: observation, interpretation, and intervention. This continually self-refining iterative process is designed to cycle through the three stages in a particular order as the stages build on one another, as illustrated in Figure 2-5 (Heifetz et al., 2009, p.32).
The practice of reflection (key ingredient in Observe and Interpret stages of Adaptive Leadership process) is integral to learning and leading adaptively. Heifetz et al. (2009) prescribes reflection as a necessary ingredient in learning and building adaptive capacity for people from all levels within organizaiton, including senior executives.
Greene (2012) explains why reflection is a key component for developing entrepreneurial leaders, who, similarly to adaptive leaders, work in the environment of uncertainty and lack of known solutions:
Reflection is an important process by which knowledge is developed from experience. When reflecting, one considers an experience that has happened and tries to understand or explain it, which often leads to insight and deep learning—or ideas to test on new experiences. Reflection is particularly important for perplexing experiences, working under conditions of high uncertainty, and problem-solving. (Reflective Practice section, para.2)
Adaptive Leadership fundamentally differs from the traditional forms of leadership where the leader has the answers. Adaptive Leaders facilitate organizational transformation and growth by asking questions. Practicing Adaptive Leadership requires constant learning on the part of the leader and everyone in the organization. Asking tough questions, reflecting on experiences and learning from failures are the vital to developing Adaptive Leadership skills.
- Introduction to Adaptive Leadership
- Distinction between “technical” problems and “adaptive” challenges
- Distinction between “leadership” and “authority”
- Resistance to adaptive change
- Holding environment
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Latest posts by Susanna Katsman (see all)
- Adaptive Leadership: Can Adaptive Leadership Skills Be Developed? Part 6 - October 1, 2013
- Adaptive Leadership: “Holding Environment”, Part 5 - September 24, 2013
- Adaptive Leadership: Resistance To Adaptive Change, Part 4 - September 17, 2013
- Adaptive Leadership: Distinction Between “Leadership” and “Authority” – Part 3 - September 10, 2013
- Adaptive Leadership: Distinction Between “Technical” Problems and “Adaptive” Challenges, Part 2 - September 3, 2013