Cambridge Leadership Associates

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Adaptive Leadership

When is it time for you to step out of the crowd and draw attention to something important?

“This was the best executive education experience I have had in my career at Microsoft.

I was able to immediately apply the practices from the session to the challenges facing my organization and make significant progress as we transition to a new way of working.”

Worldwide Sales 2008

Learn More About Adaptive Leadership

Learn about and register for upcoming CLA Programs and Workshops.
Registration is open to the public.

What is Adaptive Leadership?

Adaptive Leadership is a practical leadership framework that helps individuals and organizations adapt and thrive in challenging environments. It is being able, both individually and collectively, to take on the gradual but meaningful process of adaptation. It is about diagnosing the essential from the expendable and bringing about a real challenge to the status quo.

Introduction to Adaptation

When you realize that your organization’s aspirations—the innovations and progress you want to see—demand responses outside the current capacities, Adaptive Leadership is the framework you need to effectively close the gap and make your aspirations reality. It provides a disciplined approach to do more for what you care most about.

Adaptive Leadership is purposeful evolution in real time.

Case in Point

Because adaptive change generates resistance and exercising leadership can be both difficult and dangerous, those who lead must be well prepared to work within a “productive zone of disequilibrium.”

CLA has developed a methodology called Case-in-Point; that make progress on real, deadlocked and often emotionally charged business challenges in real time. It uses any group—workshop discussion, coaching session, task force meeting—as an opportunity to observe dynamics, connect them to the challenges, and practice Adaptive Leadership behaviors.

Case-in-point; is a distinctive element of CLA's work with clients and is often a central element in why we have been engaged.

Technical & Adaptive

The most common leadership mistake is treating Adaptive Challenges as if they were technical problems. Technical problems can be solved by an authority or expert. They have a known solution.

Adaptive Challenges are quite different. They have no known solution – the skills and answers are outside your repertoire. Adaptive Challenges are those you have to grow into solving and require mobilizing people’s hearts and minds to operate differently. Luckily, these skills can be learned regardless of position or function.

Leading effectively requires recognizing both the adaptive and technical aspects of a situation and tailoring your efforts accordingly.

Authority & Leadership

Every organization faces two competing demands: it must execute its current activities and adapt those same activities to face future opportunities and challenges. These two tasks of managing for efficiency or effectiveness and leading the organization through change correspond to the two functions of Authority and Leadership. Few organizations or individuals can do both well.

Since the bottleneck to growth for most organizations is the depth and breadth of leadership, leadership pathways often need to be created for those with and without formal authority. By separating the functions of leadership and authority, you can more easily build integrated competencies across an organization, which is critical to create new and sustained value.

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