Paper 1: Adaptive Leadership 1. Describe what adaptive leadership is. Adaptive leadership involves changing the beliefs, habits and priorities of individuals by detaching deep rooted ways, standing losses associated with change and moving beyond authority to generate innovative ideas. Adaptive Leadership encourages individuals to stretch beyond their comfort zone and look beyond the surface problems by utilizing wisdom & knowhow of the past (discarding what is not required). It also involves coordinating with multiple stakeholder priorities for managing change.
It addresses an individual’s views, anxieties and behaviors as the root cause of the problem and recommends involving them in devising the solution to a problem. An adaptive leader does not do things as per the expectations of others, instead he invents options and comes with innovative solutions by taking the risk of challenging the expectations of others. The process involves three key activities: 1) Observing patterns by adopting the balcony and the dance approach 2) Multiple interpretations of the observations made 3) Designing interventions beyond the comfort zone of individuals (based on observations and interpretation)
2. How is adaptive leadership different than a technical solution to a problem? Adaptive leadership is different from technical leadership and treating them the same can result in leadership failures: • Technical problems are easy to identify and can be solved by the current know how. Adaptive problems are difficult to identify and can be solved by addressing the beliefs, priorities, beliefs and habits of individuals. Technical leaders address the problems by looking just at the tip of the iceberg wheat adaptive leaders looks at the bigger picture. • Since adaptive leadership explore various options (no easily visible) it takes time to implement as compared to technical leadership where the solutions are already existing.
• Technical leadership issues are addressed by an authority who defines the problem and provides a solution, whereas adaptive leaderships involves people associated with the problem in identifying the key challenges and devising a solution. • Technical leadership involves executing directions set by others and meeting their expectations. Adaptive leadership involves taking risks and puzzling the expectations of others. •Technical leadership protects from external threats whereas adaptive leadership involves risks and exposure to threats. • Technical leadership defines roles and responsibilities of individuals and aligns them to the vision of the organization whereas adaptive leaderships brings people out of their comfort zone by disorienting their current roles
3. From your own organization, give one example of adaptive leadership and one of technical leadership. Technical Leadership – I worked in Jindal Steel and Power limited and one of the major concern of the organization was the increase in the number of accidents every year. With an objective to control the number of accidents, the management formulated the “Penalty Procedure for OHS Rules” which defined the disciplinary actions in case of deviation or noncompliance of safety rules. Strict rules were enforced and deviation from any safety compliance e.g. not wearing personal protective equipment, not following manufacturer’s recommendation, high speed driving within the campus resulted in heavy penalties. Similarly, if an accident happened in any of the shift, the shift in charges, managers and the head of the department were penalized and suspended.
In cases of fatal accidents the promotion and the annual appraisals of all concerned were withheld. This however did not lead to any significant drop in the accident cases and employees were still violating rules and paying penalties. Moreover there was resentment in employees as they thought that the top management should be held responsible for all the accidents and not the employees. Adaptive Leadership – When the new Safety Head was appointed in 2012, he advocated the concept of “Behaviour Based Safety”. Workshops were conducted all across the plants for employees across all levels to inculcate a culture of safety in employees. Employees were shown videos of similar industries where negligence resulted in accidents and loss of life.
“Safety Tool Talk “concept was initiated according to which all supervisors had to start the work by briefing the employees with the safety procedures to be followed. Any employee who identified a near miss case (something that could have led to an accident) was awarded a certificate and a gift for the family. Within one year of the drive the number of accidents were reduced to half and fatal accidents reduced to zero by 2015. The drive still continues in the organization and is very successful. The adaptive leadership focused on devising the solution based on the root cause of the problem i.e. the negligent behaviour of the employees.
4. Complete Table 7-1 (p. 108) in Heifetz for your organization; describe your findings. Adaptability Criteria Description Rating Elephants in the room How long does it take for conversations to get from inside people’s heads to the coffee machine and then to meeting rooms? How quickly are crises identified and bad news discussed? Are there structures, incentives, and support for speaking the unspeakable? 7 Shared responsibility To what extent do people in your organization, especially those in senior management, act from the perspective of and for the betterment of the whole organization, as opposed to worrying about and protecting their individual groups or silos? 6 Independent judgment To what extent are people in your organization valued for their own judgment rather than their capacity to divine the boss’s preferences? And when someone takes a reasonable risk in service of the mission and it doesn’t work out, to what extent is that seen as a learning opportunity rather than a personal failure? 8
Develop leadership capacity To what extent do people know where they stand in the organization and their potential for growth and advancement? Do they have an agreed-upon plan for how they are going to reach their potential? And to what extent are senior managers expected to identify and mentor their successors? 9 Institutionalized reflection and continuous learning Does the organization carve out time for individual and collective reflection and learning from experience? To what extent does the organization allocate time, space, and other resources to get diverse perspectives on how work could be done better? 10
1. Elephants in the room: Employees in my organization can express their viewpoints openly in front of seniors. Meetings are held across levels and the Head of the Department (HOD) encourages each one to give their inputs. Disagreements on topics are encouraged by the top management and are considered as brainstorming opportunities. At times the meetings are also conducted at Shop floors to encourage labors to express their viewpoints. I have given a 7 because although other groups are open in expressing their views, labors are still reluctant in coming forward and expressing themselves.
2. Shared responsibility – Teams within a department are open to cross – functional responsibilities and work beyond reporting structures and job responsibilities. However the various departments have created functional boundaries and focus on achieving departmental targets. Head of the Departments (HODs) consider their employees as their asset and are reluctant to send them to other departments. In meetings the HODs focus on issues concerning their department bu the organization as a whole. However the production incentives and annual increments are distributed to s based on the organization’s performance and not individual department’s performance. My organization does not adopt a shared responsibility approach at all times, hence I rate it 6.
3. Independent judgment – People in my organization are encouraged to give their independent judgement. Focused group discussions and brain storming sessions are conducted regularly to encourage employee to express their viewpoints. Most of the employees who work in shifts are encouraged to take their decision independently. Sometimes, if the decision goes wrong they are not blamed for the mistake but are encouraged to share their experience through knowledge Management Portal so that others learn from their experience.
4. Develop leadership capacity – My organization has a welldefined succession plan for all executives at the middle and the senior management level. For young engineers company has a “Young Leader’s Program” and the identified individuals go through a 6 month transformation journey involving forums, live projects ,mentoring and development councils. Similarly, to promote internal talent at top positions, LEAD program was launched for 200 employees (in multiple cohorts) and employees went through personal insights workshops, breakthrough projects, coaching and cross functional assignments. The MD, CEO and Director HR were the mentors for this target group.
5. Institutionalized reflection and continuous learning – My organization promotes continuous learning innumerous ways. Through Sabbaticals employees ae sponsored for their higher education at various national and international universities. We have a Knowledge Management portal and every employee has to share the breakdowns/ projects/mistakes of his department. These experiences act as knowledge base for other employees in the organization Whenever any major change is planned focused group discussions are conducted across all levels to gain insights on the project.