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The Practice of Adaptive Leadership

In today's rapidly changing world, The Practice of Adaptive Leadership can be your handbook to meeting the demands of leadership in a complex world.

When change requires you to challenge people's familiar reality, it can be difficult, dangerous work. Whatever the context, whether in the private or the public sector, many will feel threatened as you push though major changes. But as a leader, you need to find a way to make it work. Ron Heifetz first defined this problem with his distinctive theory of Adaptive Leadership in Leadership Without Easy Answers. In a second book, Leadership on the Line, Heifetz and co-author Marty Linsky highlighted the individual and organizational dangers of leading through deep change in business, politics, and community life.

Now, Heifetz, Linsky, and co-author Alexander Grashow are taking the next step: The Practice of Adaptive Leadership is a hands-on, practical guide containing stories, tools, diagrams, cases, and worksheets to help you develop your skills as an adaptive leader, able to take people outside their comfort zones and assess and address the toughest challenges. The authors have decades of experience helping people and organizations create cultures of adaptive leadership.

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Leadership on the Line: Staying Alive Through the Dangers of Leading

Leadership on the Line: Staying Alive Through the Dangers of Leading draws on the authors’ combined half-century of experience of teaching and consulting; first at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard and later at Cambridge Leadership Associates. 

CLA founders Ron Heifetz and Marty Linsky have written the first personal survival guide for individuals seeking to lead. They profess that leading is risky and dangerous work. Exercising leadership is dangerous because you risk making yourself vulnerable; whether you are supporting unpopular initiatives, promoting provocative new ideas, questioning the gap between values and behavior of your colleagues, or asking family and friends to face up to unpleasant realities.

Published in 2002 by Harvard Business School Press, Leadership on the Line  is available in nine languages (English, Korean, Simplified Chinese, Complex Chinese, Japanese, Danish, Portuguese, Spanish and Hebrew) and Braille.

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Leveling the Playing Field

Leveling the Playing Field is a new book that incorporates the Adaptive Leadership™ framework in the context of a real world adaptive challenge. CLA Founder Marty Linsky has spent over two years representing CLA in a collaborative initiative with Advancing Women Professionals, an organization whose mission is to promote the advancement of women professionals in Jewish organizational life.

This book combines the framework and skills of Adaptive Leadership with the particular challenge of the well documented glass ceiling that women face in Jewish community organizations, melding stories of successes and setbacks with very practical ideas about how to lead change.

Issues of gender equity exist in many organizations, not just Jewish organizations. The lessons and insights in this book apply to any organization that is dealing with gender equity issues. Who is this book for? Women who want to advance their careers, organizations that need to retain top talent and establish gender equity policies, and anyone who believes women and men should have equal opportunities to contribute in communal or organizational life, will find value in this book.

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Leadership can be Taught: A Bold Approach to a Complex World

In Leadership can be Taught: A Bold Approach to a Complex World Sharon Daloz Parks documents the approach to teaching leadership called "case-in- point," developed by Ronald Heifetz at Harvard's Center for Public Leadership, which takes to task the idea of born leaders. She describes Heifetz's multidisciplinary approach to teaching leadership, which uses personal experience and seminar, simulation, presentation, discussion and dialogue, clinical-therapeutic practice, coaching, the laboratory, art, writing, and case study. Parks analyzes the underlying theory, overall concepts including presence and authority, and use in social groups and the workplace. She calls upon the stories and experiences of teachers and others who have applied the method. Parks is Director of Leadership for the New Commons at Whidbey Institute in Washington.

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Leadership Without Easy Answers

In Leadership Without Easy Answers, CLA founder Ronald A. Heifetz presents a theory of leadership applicable to both public and private leaders who are tackling complex contemporary problems. Central to the theory is the distinction between routine technical problems, which can be solved through expertise, and adaptive problems, such as crime, poverty, and educational reform, which require innovative approaches, including consideration of values. Heifetz addresses four major strategies of leadership:

  • to approach problems as adaptive challenges by diagnosing the situation in light of the values involved and avoiding authoritative solutions,
  • to regulate the level of stress caused by confronting issues,
  • to focus on relevant issues, and
  • to shift responsibility for problems from the leader to all the primary stakeholders.

The theory is applied to an analysis of historical accounts of local, national, and international events.


Friday, April 11, 2014
Sebelius Resignation Won’t Solve Adaptive Problems in Executive Branch

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