Adaptive Leadership Theory

No matter what field of business a leader finds themselves in, there is one piece of common ground: the challenge exists that requires the ability to proactively solve complex issues and problems. Modern leadership requires innovation, effectiveness, and collaboration. The only problem is that a vast majority of leadership styles only address one of the needs that a modern leader must have in order to stay productive. That the adaptive leadership theory fits in. Instead of focusing on one leadership trait, the modern leader is able to pick and choose the leadership traits that they need at any given moment.

Why Is Adaptive Leadership Gaining in Popularity?

The needs of a modern company can be quite demanding. Because we are in a global informational society, business never actually stops. It is not uncommon for there to be early-morning meetings with customers in London and late afternoon meetings with customers in Singapore for the modern business. Each culture has its own unique set of expectations and challenges. Each business doesn’t have the ability to hire a specific manager to meet each unique set of challenges.

That means the modern leader must be able to take their team and be able to adapt each employee changing circumstances that happened throughout the day.

It isn’t just in customer relationships where adaptive leadership has an advantage. Employees from different walks of life will react differently to different styles of leadership. Some people thrive under a very demanding chain of command that requires specific responsibilities to be completed at specific times. Other employees respond better to a hands off approach that allows them to explore their own creativity as they complete their job duties. The modern leader must be able to meet both the needs effectively on a daily basis.

Do All Leaders Have Adaptive Leadership?

To some extent, all leaders practice adaptive leadership. Any time a leader analyzes what is happening on a minute by minute basis, and then responds with a decision based on this observation, they are practicing adaptive leadership. When properly practiced, this form of leadership provides strategic advantages and a tactical edge because it is a world where proactive logic and reactive speed meet.

Why are some leaders more adaptive than other leaders? It all boils down to experience. Every leader has one specific experience that they can go back to that defines the kind of leader that they are. Leadership always means setting new goals and expecting high standards, but the definition of those goals and standards are defined by the specific experiences that each leader has in life. When leaders experienced success, they naturally become more adaptive. When leaders experience failure, they tend to retract their proactive approach and rely on reactive decisions instead.

Most importantly, the adaptive leader is successful because they are willing to roll their sleeves up and get dirty with the rest of their team in the work that must be done. They are poised under pressure, but are still willing to make the fast executive decision when circumstances dictate that a choice must be made. With practice, even leaders who have experienced failure can reach a high level of adaptive leadership over time.

When that can be achieved, a leader, a team, and an organization can accomplish any goal that they set out to accomplish.

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