PRINCIPLE THAT GUIDE ADAPTIVE LEADERSHIP:
IDENTIFY THE ADAPTIVE CHALLENGE
People face complex challenges most of the time. Complex challenges are likely to have both a technical and an adaptive element. It is critical to identify what requires technical solutions and what requires adaptive work. This will assist in distinguishing between superficial symptom and the root cause of the challenge.
Adaptive challenges tend to have the following characteristics:
- A cycle of failure
- A dependence on leadership with authority
Jane, the CEO of Fashionista Inc, realized that her staff were consistently not attending the company events. Staff were declining attendance request just a day before the event.
The company had planned for the end-year party and it was a week to the event. Jane decided to communicate to all staff clearly stating that the end year party was compulsory to all staff and attendance register will be taken.
On that day, all staff reported to the event on time and registered themselves. The room was packed and Jane was very happy that her decision to communicate in advance had paid off. However, she later realized that only about 60% of the staff were in attendance in the afternoon session; which was the main part of the event.
In many cases, people, just like Jane treat adaptive challenges like technical problems that can be solved by quick technical fixes. The authority figure is supposed to define where the company is going, and people are supposed to follow. Leadership is reduced to a combination of grand knowing and salesmanship. Adaptive situations are hard to define and resolve precisely because they demand the work and responsibility of all members. They are not amenable to solutions provided by leaders; adaptive solutions require members to take responsibility for the problems that face them.