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Adaptive Leadership

Adaptive Leadership (AL) is a leadership practice that entertains diverse and divergent views from the team before making important decisions in an organisation or project and encourages innovation and cultural change. From a business perspective, Adaptive Leadership is most useful in dealing with complex situations that require multifaceted solutions and value-added outcomes.

Adaptive leaders use a broad-based style of leadership that enables them to be personally more flexible and adaptive and continuously learn through experience and practice. As leaders, they communicate effectively and regularly with their team and with clients, encourage, motivate, grow and lead their people. They stay knowledgeable of what their stakeholders want, are creative and foresee opportunities for their organisation, are willing to experiment, take risks and are open to new ideas and solutions.

A key principle of AL is the collaborative involvement of team members in the development of the idea, project, or solution. This ensures that team members have a sense of ownership and are being recognised and valued for their contribution.

Adaptive leadership can be a powerful driver of employee engagement. A very simple application of AL is to communicate to your people know what is expected of them. Consider the following case study as an example.

A major organisation with market influence (the client) engaged a construction group to build a major regional development project. Before the construction work got underway, a facilitated workshop between the client’s team and the contractor’s team agreed on project goals, values, communication protocols, performance indicators and expected behaviors.

Over the following 12 months, there was quite a bit of turnover in team leadership and membership of the construction team. Consequently, the client perceived expected behaviors between the parties to be declining and project productivity was suffering. In order to get the project back on track, the parties convened another workshop to realign behaviors and expectations of each other and address performance issues. At the workshop, the parties were encouraged to be flexible and adaptive to new approaches in order to find solutions to the identified project issues. Backed by respective team leadership, workshop participants were asked to commit to a single behavior they could change to address project issues. Each workshop participant verbally gave their commitment to address an issue or behavior, and agreed to be held accountable for achieving the change in approach. This meant that not one side but collectively both teams and individual members owned the problem and the solution.

This is a demonstration where Adaptive Leadership can be applied in a workshop environment to motivate teams to open up to new ideas and adopt solutions to problems that would otherwise negatively impact on an organisation.

Value Network provides facilitation services. Contact Value Network to see how we can assist you with applying Adaptive Leadership as a practice for your project or your team.

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