The Work of Leadership Article Summary
In their article, Ron Heifetz and Donald Laurie stress on several crucial principles that might help business leaders, especially senior managers, to lead changes and find solutions to adaptive challenges. Although the article was published almost twenty years ago, it is still full of valuable receipts, which might be brought to action in current even more “radically altered environment”.
The ideas presented within the concept of adaptive change are of high importance for the organizations that seeks to adjust their business strategies to cope with continuously volatile markets. What is more, the role of leader and his or her capacity to shift from traditional thinking and convenient way of managing people is crucial for the successful process of adaptive change? The challenge for the leader as it is described in the article is to transform the concept of communication with the employees and not to provide answers but to ask some tough questions. These questions should stimulate people to understand clearly the new challenges and new roles and to adapt accordingly. Otherwise, there will be no necessary changes and a firm might face the same issues with some negative consequences and up to the failure.
It is quite useful to think of the position of the leader when the organization is about to change. Ron Heifetz and Donald Laurie give a perfect example of hockey players who developed the ability to see the overall game instead of being carried away by it. Having developed the quality and skills to change the landscape view from the field of play to the balcony, the leader could identify the adaptive challenge. Otherwise, it is possible to “become a prisoner of the system” and be unable to solve the problem staying inside the box.
It is Albert Einstein who said that no problem can be solved from the same level of consciousness that created it. Thus, it is a prerequisite for the senior managers to be able to move force and back into the daily routine from the strategic balcony.
Also, from the case with British Airways transformation is is important to note that one of the first steps and priorities in an adaptive challenge identification - to build trust within the organization. This might contribute to organizing collaborative environment, which may help the firm to build strong cross-functional teams. The article is full of ideas to be memorized, but one more crucial observation is about the regulation of distress within the organization. Since the adaptation is a change of the conventional ways of solving the ordinary problems, people might be distressed by the necessity of rapid reinforcements. When such changes coupled with plenty of important initiatives from “highly productive” seniors - the employees might become overwhelmedand lose orientation. In that case, the leader might find it quite difficult to resist pressure to define new roles because there multiple highly prioritized challenges constraints. Video with Kathryn Shultz well supplements the ideas presented in the article. …