The third principle of adaptive leadership, regulate the distress caused by the adaptive challenge
Script 1.2.3 Eps 3 - Applying the principles: Regulate the distress caused by the adaptive challenge?
Welcome to our video series on Applying the Principles.
In the previous video we covered the principle of identifying an adaptive challenge (Please visit our previous lesson for details about identifying an adaptive challenge).
In this video session, we’ll look at the third principle of adaptive leadership, regulate the distress caused by the adaptive challenge.
Adaptive challenges do not have straightforward forward solutions. To be able to solve an adaptive challenge there will be a need to work with different people from different backgrounds and beliefs. In exercising leadership one must attend to three fundamental tasks:
- Create an environment where people can spend time exploring the new learning;
- Provide a safe environment (direction, protection, orientation, managed conflict and the shaping of norms); and
- Demonstrate personal presence and poise (model the emotional capacity to tolerate uncertainty, frustration, and pain)
Adaptive work generates distress. Before putting people to work on challenges for which there are no ready solutions, an authority figure must realize that people can learn only so much so fast, and maintain a productive level of tension and motivate people without disabling them.
Although exercising leadership demands a deep understanding of the pain of change-the fears and sacrifices associated with major readjustment-it also requires the ability to hold steady and maintain the tension.
In exercising leadership one has to have the emotional capacity to tolerate uncertainty, frustration and pain. One has to raise tough questions without getting too anxious. People around you will carefully observe verbal and nonverbal cues to a leader's ability to hold steady and tackle tasks ahead.
Daniel, the Operations Manager of Hoops company had noticed the frequent machine breakdown despite regular maintenance. This had increased maintenance cost resulting to reduce profit.
Daniel decided to find out the root course and possible remedies. He organised for a meeting which was composed of members of the operating team, the mechanic and the procurement team who were responsible for purchasing of the spare parts. After his opening remarks and introductions, he asked members to give their opinion on the benefits of the production machine in the daily operations of the business. After members had given their opinions, he asked, “What impact does it bring to the business if the production machine is not working properly?” and before they started giving their opinions, he proceeded to ask “What needs to be done by all of us to ensure the machine remains up and running without breakdowns?”
Susan, the procurement officer proposed the acquisition of the new machine. Daniel was happy with her view. He asked Susan of the cost involved with the purchase of the new machinery and whether the business was in a position to incur the cost. Joseph, the head of operations team, admitted how powerful the machine is despite of breakdowns. Joseph also mentioned how he has trained his operations team and equip them with the relevant system manual. “What causes the breakdown?” Daniel asked. Joseph explained the controls that have been put in place from the time the machine is powered until the time it is powered off.
“What happens when it breaks down?” Daniel asked. Joseph explained the troubleshooting process which happens before the mechanic is contacted. “How are the spare parts obtained?”, Susan explained how the procurement officers purchases the spare parts from the all time spare parts vendor. Once spare parts have been delivered, they proceed to contact the mechanic to come and fix the machine.
The mechanic provided details of the set of activities involved during fixing. He commented about the quality of spare parts he has been receiving and gave reasons that are resulting to failure.
This principle requires that a person exercising leadership must control the environment in order to make it constructive and creative.
In our next lesson we are going to look at the fourth principle - Give the work back to the people.