Quote of the Week: Adaptive Leadership

Leadership is the process of bringing a new and generally unwelcome reality to an individual, organization or setting, and helping them successfully adapt to it.

-Rony Heifetz (as quoted in a Harvard Kennedy School study (by Dutch Leonard) on Leadership in High Uncertainty Environments, as part of Young Global Leaders executive program.

Other interesting insights from that course with important applications for movements like OneVoice as well as to fast-growing companies like KIND:

  • On the danger (and opportunity) of Vantage Bias:

     When you are holding a hammer, everything starts to look like a nail.

Cognitive Biases to watch against: giving too much weight to personal experience/illusion of experience; overconfidence of influence/power, or ability to predict future, and of ability to control future; ignoring disconfirming evidence; inability to perceive radical change; escalation of commitment in the face of "evidence"; tendency to turn issues into personal convictions;

  • Affirm Values at Difficult Moments
  • Never let bad news be a surprise; prepare people to enable them to adapt
  • Eye contact in some African countries is disrespectful.
  • Build deep team cohesion during times of stability to enable you to deal with uncertainty in the future
  • To manage well in a crisis, prepare AHEAD by thinking of, and hiring, the right people with the right values – resilience, team spirit, loyalty, courage
  • Create structured discipline in the mundane, so the unanticipated is compensated by expectable outcomes
  • Grounded Confidence is important; false optimism is not sustainable;
  • Learning most effective when: Positive, Immediate, Certain, and Reinforced.
  • Ensure issue (rather than person putting it forward) is what is evaluated and ranked.
  • Listen to warning systems – forms of dissent, dissonance; encourage feedback;
  • Don’t dismiss disconfirming evidence; question if you are not too narrowly focused – lighthouse/boat scenario; must remain open to possibility that you are wrong;
  • A leader can change the conditions in which the team operates, out of which new models for leadership will emerge.
  • Ecologist: when you reach in and try to take out anything out of the universe, you find out that it is interconnected to everything else.
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