Adaptive leadership is the practical framework within which, it is essential to confront challenges. This article deals with the intricacies of adaptive leadership style!

Adaptive Leadership

According to Ron Heifetz, “Leadership is practice of mobilizing groups of people to tackle tough challenges and thrive”. A good leader should be self-motivated and able to motivate others and coordinate the team members to achieve a common goal. A leader should be able to help his team in bringing out their maximum performance and accomplish something extraordinary. It is essential for a person to have great interpersonal skills to become a successful leader. The competency of leaders lies in how they utilize the available resources within a given environment. There are different types of leaderships. This article deals with ‘adaptive leadership’. The term is derived from evolutionary biology and it means ‘getting adapted to the changes for survival’. Therefore, an adaptive leader should be able to discard or modify unnecessary elements without changing the essential ones and must create a new set of organizational elements for empowering the organization. The characteristics and competencies of adaptive leadership are listed below. Scroll down to learn about them!
Adaptive Leadership Style
Characteristics Of Adaptive Leaders
  • Leaders should be adaptive to the changes in the internal atmosphere of an organization such as adopting timely alterations in the attitude, values, behaviors and styles of work. They must ensure that the team members are performing in accordance to the accepted norms.
  • Heifetz had used a metaphor in his work to explain the objectivity of a leader – “For a leader to be objective, he should go to the balcony and observe the dance floor underneath. This will help him to gain a fair idea about what is happening around him.”
  • Leaders should be able to manage their lusts. Power and importance are prime leadership lusts. Hunger for these can keep the team members away from optimum performances. Heroic desires of a leader can lead the team to underperformance. Effectiveness of a leadership is reflected in the team’s performance. Therefore, it is essential that the leader values his/her leadership over the desire of heroism.
  • Leaders should be aware of the contextual environment and also make sure that their decisions are relevant with respect to the time and space. For this they must get along well with the other members.
  • They should be flexible and capable of accommodating to the changing environment. This is influenced by the cognitive development of a person.
  • Adaptive leaders apply their perceptual knowledge in a given context to improve the productivity of their team. 
Advantages Of Adaptive Leadership
  • Adaptive leadership strategies should ideally be adopted in situations where the variables undergo continuous changes because traditional strategies become limited in these cases. One of the benefits is that it can bring about superior outcome by remolding the existing strategies through practical evolutions.
  • This type of leadership takes up an algorithmic approach involving better policies to cope with every given situation and a combat-ready attitude towards changes. These methods are enriched with preparedness, reactivity and resilience which are essential to confront turbulence.  
  • Adaptive leadership connects instability with core values and nourishes a culture which considers the changes as well as the difference in opinions within the subjects.
  • This style requires great analytical flairs of the leader or members to set team goals and trace the ways to accomplish the same using the given infrastructure and within a given time limit.
  • Adaptive leadership formulates feasible alternatives for a problem and leads the team with a selected mode of action. It also considers multiple interpretations of a problem – meaning that an adaptive leader evaluates a problem from every possible angle.
  • This style is known to favour self-directedness of employees so that they can solve their problems themselves and focus on priorities rather than seeking solutions on trivial internal problems.
  • Here, in this system, a leader is not an authority or a manager who steers the team members in a closed atmosphere. S/he is more of a facilitator of collaborative processes that bring about results. 
Adaptive leadership can work in those situations where traditional strategies fail to bring about desired results and performances. The characteristics of an adaptive leader are required to deal with the constantly changing environmental and working atmosphere.

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