Learning to Lead Adaptively

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Leadership can be inspiration, decisive action, and powerful rewards. It also requires putting yourself on the line, disturbing the status quo, and working with hidden conflicts. And when people feel threatened, they take aim at the person pushing for change. As a result, leaders often get hurt both personally and professionally.

The purpose of the course is to increase one’s capacity to lead with and without authority, across boundaries, and from any political or organizational position. This course is based on the theory of Adaptive Leadership, which has emerged from thirty years of research at Harvard University.

In our work together, we will explore: 1) the sources and forms of danger in leadership, 2) diagnostic, strategic, and tactical responses to these dangers, and 3) how to stay alive and thrive, not only in your work, but in your heart and soul.



We will explore tools for analyzing the complexity of change in social systems, as well as strategies of action. These action strategies include: using authority and power, mobilizing responsibility across boundaries, building trust, orchestrating multi-party conflict, regulating disequilibrium, and building a culture of adaptability for the long-term. In addition, we will explore the challenge of managing the inevitable personal stresses of leading change.

Structured into large and small group discussions, the course draws on cases from participants and case-in-point teaching – using the classroom process to understand role and system dynamics. The course is designed to be a transformative personal experience with the intent to generate more options for diagnosis and action in the practice of leadership.


Who is Learning to Lead Adaptively for?

Participants come individually and in teams from corporate, non-profit, and public sectors and from many countries in addition to the United States.

Participants include:

  • Individuals who feel thwarted in their organization through change;
  • Teams wrestling with implementing or accelerating change initiatives;
  • Leadership development professionals interested in bringing Adaptive Leadership to their communities; and
  • People who seek to enhance their own capacities for exercising leadership.