Adaptive leadership

We live in an increasingly complex, pluralistic world. These times call for individuals from all levels of hierarchy to practice leadership: That is, to mobilize people, communities, and organizations, to confront the tough challenges they face and to make the changes necessary to thrive.

This workshop introduces students to the diagnostic distinction between leadership and authority. Leadership is an activity that can be exercised irrespective of authority. This generates the potential for exercising leadership from any position within a group or organization. Students also learn to distinguish between technical problems and adaptive challenges - those challenges that cannot be solved by expertise and management alone, but that require innovation and learning. They reflect on and experiment with intervention strategies for adaptive challenges.

Students then apply these concepts to their own professional experiences. They use a peer consultancy model to diagnose their own cases of leadership failure and begin to develop alternate strategies for action.

The course draws on the leadership teaching and experiential learning methods in leadership used at the Harvard Kennedy School. Student cases and experiences are valued over prepared case materials. Moreover, students analyze the evolving dynamics of the class itself as a case-in-point to better understand the challenges of collective learning and change. 

Instructor