The Good, the Bad and the Ugly: Successes and Failures in Adaptive Leadership

How do you convince your team to support a goal they see as leading to their own loss of power and influence? You have to go beyond your cohort, says Tamar Chugoshvili, First Deputy Chairperson of Georgia’s Parliament, as she shares her successful efforts to get cross-party support for a more gender-balanced Parliament.  But bringing people back together requires finding a common middle-ground – easier said than done in a polarized political environment where all parties fear losing out, acknowledges Tom Perez, Chair of the Democratic National Committee.  Continue reading

The Art of Leading in a Crazy World

Where are today's leaders, asks Professor Dean Williams as he tries to shed light on what makes for true leadership in today's crazy interconnected world. With populism and division on the rise, traditional tribal authority dynamics cannot solve today's shared problems. We need to respect and engage with what is different and that requires us to cross boundaries and build bridges. That is the key challenge for successful adaptive leaders who need to help bring people along by inspiring them to imagine a better world, looking beyond the short-termism of day-to-day politics. Leadership should not be left to economists or technocrats; it requires imagination, poetry and artistry.  Continue reading

Be inspired by Governor Jennifer Granholm

Communicating hard truths about permanent job losses and badly needed structural changes to the economy during a downturn is never easy. Even more so when you come into office thinking the economy is about to recover and you’ll get the credit for it. But this is what Governor Jennifer Granholm had to navigate as her state of Michigan plummeted into economic recession in 2003. Tapping into her knowledge of adaptive leadership, she reached beyond her cohort and used technology to help communicate her message directly to people so they could appreciate the magnitude of the task ahead.  Continue reading

Ron Heifetz on the Getting to Yes, And… Podcast

Ron Heifetz was recently a guest on the “Getting to Yes, And…” podcast, hosted by Kelly Leonard and produced by The Second City. The podcast interviews visionaries, authors, and leaders who work at the intersection of creativity and other fields. Kelly and Ron discussed the relationship between leadership and improvisation, our current political moment, and the importance of trust.  Continue reading

Q&A with Professor Dean Williams

As the 2017 Adaptive Leadership Conference takes shape and spots continue to fill up, we’d like to share this conversation between the head of conference communications, Andy Cahill, and Professor Dean Williams. Dean has been a faculty member at Harvard Kennedy School since 1999 and was a student at Harvard in the 1980s and 90s. He has just published a new book Leadership for a Fractured World. He is also the author of Real Leadership, a text widely used in adaptive leadership courses.   Continue reading

Colombian President Reflects on Adaptive Leadership in Nobel Prize Speech

Juan Manuel Santos is the latest alumni of Harvard's Adaptive Leadership curriculum to receive the Nobel Peace Prize. The President of Colombia received the honor for his part in brokering peace in Colombia and ending over fifty years of armed conflict.  In his speech, Santos described the difficulty in negotiating with FARC as well as those who demanded retribution instead of amnesty, and reflected on advice from Ronald Heifetz as crucial in helping him to keep going. Continue reading

Ron heifetz on the election

The day after the US Presidential Election, Ronald Heifetz explored the challenges ahead in a live interview at the Harvard Kennedy School. Here are excerpts from his opening remarks reflecting on the dynamic of distrust in politics.   Continue reading

Orchestrating Conflict

Ron Heifetz elaborated the notion of orchestrating conflict at the 2016 Annual Conference: "Because if you’re orchestrating conflict you’re like a chef working of this big stove with ten or maybe even 100 different pressure cookers all assembled at the same time.  And you’re going around testing each one. Do I need to turn the flame up? Do I need to turn it down? Do I have the right ingredients in this pot? This pot is missing a tomato, I better get those union people in here. Sooner than later, and so forth. Continue reading

Moving beyond leaders that claim "I'm the solution"

George Papandreou, former Prime Minister of Greece reflected on adaptive leadership at the 2016 Annual Conference: "These are issues where you have to bring a whole society to understand the adaptive problems we’re facing, the changes in theworld... Its an educative role of leader, rather than one that simply says, these are the problems and I’m the solution."     — George Papandreou, former Prime Minister of Greece at the 2016 Annual Adaptive Leadership Conference         Continue reading

The role of empathy

Marty Linsky elaborated the role of empathy in Adaptive Leadership:   Continue reading