Adaptive Leadership competency
April 12, 2021

Resources to help you develop your Adaptive Leadership competency

By Paul Laughlin

Perhaps you read my recent book review of “The Practice of Adaptive Leadership” if so I hope you were inspired to develop your own Adaptive Leadership competency. I know that book inspires me to do so.

So, in this short curation post, I will share some of the other online resources I have found to help you apply this theory & develop your own competency. I’ve deliberately chosen diverse sources & perspectives from different sectors to help inform the wider view needed (like the “On the balcony” sections in that book).

I encourage you to browse through the site that I embed below. To discover what type of material could help you continue your own learning. Adaptive Leadership is not something you learn in a book & then carry around as a theory that might be useful one day. It’s very essence is about applying an adaptive mindset to the challenges that emerge & changes that are more difficult to achieve than finding the ‘correct‘ technical solution. So, we all learn by doing. I hope at least one of these resources helps you start or continue that journey.

Apply the theory to the challenges that you are facing now

One of the first places to start is to look around you. To develop your ability to discern where the changes needed are adaptive rather than solely technical. As Heifetz et al suggest it can be helpful to look for the 4 adaptive change archetypes that I listed in my book review.

Well, one of the timely challenges that has faced all organisations in recent times is of course the pandemic. Many aspects of adapting to the changes needed are adaptive rather than just technical (including digitisation & remote working). This has been particularly acute for both those working on the front line in healthcare and the many organisations that support them. So, as an example of applying this theory to that current challenge, it is worth reading this blog post from Andrew Liles & Phillipa Darnton about their work in Wessex AHSN.

As well as acknowledging themes from the book (like the need for the need for increased pressure but also regulating what people can cope with), I love the positive message in this post. You can hear from their experience how such change can also be energising, motivational & empower more empowering ways of working. Do you spot any parallels to challenges & opportunities in your organisation?

Adaptive leadership of the COVID-19 challenge in health and care | Q Community

COVID-19 presents a new reality for health and care systems that needs to be met through innovation and a change in all of our values and beliefs in how care is provided. Recent workshops by Wessex AHSN, supported by Q as part of their work to aid rapid learning and improvement during the pandemic, provided […]

Listen to a wider range of voices

I’m aware that a number of our blog readers struggle to take time out to read a long book. Many value audio or video content as an alternative media to fit around their lives. That is one reason why I launched the Customer Insight Leader podcast (as well as wanting to share the reality of data leaders’ experience).

So, the next resource I suggest is this video recording of a webinar run by ODI. For the webinar they assembled a panel of experts who are well worth hearing:

Part of developing your adaptive leadership skills is to read more widely & listen more widely. Give yourself the opportunity to hear the lessons being learnt in other sectors. This recording focuses on wider scenarios than many leaders may normally need to consider (including how to achieve collaboration between different countries on international efforts). However, the lessons that are shared are still very relevant for today’s data leaders. Being honest with your people. The need for real-time leadership & collaboration. Recognising that you don’t know what will happen. I hope you find this conversation as engaging & thought-provoking as I do.

Adaptive leadership in the Covid-19 response: navigating crisis and change

The ongoing coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic is posing unprecedented challenges to leadership across the world. The pace at which policymakers, practitioners and researchers react to this emerging and complex crisis will make a profound difference to people’s lives and livelihoods.

Keep listening, keep learning

Building on my above reference to audio media, let me next recommend a podcast. I know many blog readers (and listeners to my podcast) find regular podcast episodes a more convenient way to keep learning.

When I searched for a podcast dedicated to this topic, the closest that I found was a series of episodes within “The Business Of…” podcast series from the Australian Graduate School of Management. So far, they have released 3 episodes on this topic (as well as others worth hearing on related leadership styles).

One of the benefits of periodically listening to podcasts on a topic is how they can both keep you up-to-date on the topic & create moments for personal reflection. Adaptive Leadership is about learning & adapting, so benefits hugely from a regular reflective practice to review what you have learnt from experiments & events. I recommend you use this podcast as a springboard to taking such time out on a regular basis:

‎AGSM’s The Business Of… Leadership Podcast: Episode 4: The Business of Adaptive Leadership – Part 1 on Apple Podcasts

‎This episode examines adaptive leadership through the lens of crisis recovery and the universal challenges business leaders face as a result of COVID-19. Guests include Phillipa Harrison, managing director at Tourism Australia, Quirin Schwaighofer, Co-CEO and Co Founder of MadeComfy, and Richard Hol…

Follow-up your reading with the authors’ resources

To conclude, I should share the resources provided by the authors of “The Practice of Adaptive Leadership“. On the website of their consultancy practice, they share links to some blog posts & other books. They also include a helpful diagnostic quiz that they call the Adaptability Survey. Here is the link:

How Adaptable Are You?

Readiness for change is critical when we confront crisis or encounter the unknown. Such occasions require leadership. The brief survey below provides an informal assessment of your capacity to respond in productive ways that move ideas and organizations forward.

The survey helps you consider a number of key aspects of your own leadership approach. It has questions about balance, culture, conflict, change & vision. Once you complete the short survey (only 12 questions) you get a webpage with a tailored paragraph reviewing your own adaptability. Why not try it now?

How is your Adaptive Leadership competency?

How did you do? Were you surprised by your own answers (I was more average than I expected)? Did your tailored paragraph ring true? What do you want to do differently as a result?

Whether or not you choose to read their book or make use of their public courses, I encourage you to continue to think about your adaptive leadership competency. I hope that the resources above act as a springboard to continued CPD activities & experiments in your own business. Let’s all keep learning & adapting.