Blog Post 11, Nov. 13th 2015

Part 1: An Outstanding Adaptive Leader

Angela Merkel

Angela Merkel is the current chancellor of Germany – the first woman to ever hold that position (), and also, “practically speaking,” the person in charge of the European Union (Fortune Editors 2014). Such a position, especially taking into account the economic and political turmoil in Europe in the last several years, would require very strong adaptive leadership skills, particularly the ability to “get on the balcony” and see the bigger picture, because the problems she faces are probably very rarely “technical” in nature and require deep thought and decision-making skills. Nicolaides and McCallum (2014) say that “adaptive challenges…require unlearning old assumptions and attitudes and learning new ways of knowing, doing, and being.” This heavily applies to anyone in a position such as president or chancellor, because there are rarely if ever clear-cut answers to the problems and questions they face on a daily basis.

PART 2: Results of Adaptive Leadership QUESTIONNAIRE

Average Self Difference
Get on the Balcony 21.4 21 0.4
Identify the Adaptive Challenge 13.8 17 -3.2
Regulate Distress 20.6 18 2.6
Maintain Disciplined Attention 17.6 19 -1.4
Give the Work Back 13.8 14 -0.2
Protect Leadership Voices from Below 18.2 21 -2.8

PART 3: questions

Do you agree or disagree with the results? Why?

As you can see by the differences between my self evaluation and the average of the respondents’ evaluations, there are several I agree with and a few that have a larger difference. I have a tendency to trust the respondents to my surveys more than my own answers, because I know how hard it is to be objective when one self-evaluates. Apparently I’m much better at regulating distress than I give myself credit for, which I’m happy to learn. However, it also appears that I’m drastically overestimating my ability to protect leadership voices from below, so that is something I need to pay more attention to. Also apparently I’m much worse at identifying the adaptive challenge than I thought. I think it’s because I have a problem “separating a problem’s technical elements from its adaptive elements,” which Heifetz, Grashow, and Linsky (2009) identify as a key component of this aspect of adaptive leadership.

How does the knowledge of adaptive leadership affect your definition of leadership, if at all?

I think it’s important that my definition of leadership changes in order to incorporate adaptive leadership, but since the definition of adaptive leadership is so broad and incorporates so many things, I’m just going to make a small change to reflect the entirety of the fledgling theory:

Leadership is when a person or group has the knowledge, skills, drive, adaptability, and vision to successfully take initiative, whether they choose to or have it thrust upon them, to inspire and empower each follower to develop their skills, grow, and work with the group to achieve a common goal.

How does the knowledge of adaptive leadership affect how you see yourself as a leader, if at all?

I think it helps me see where I may have been lacking in my previous leadership endeavors; it doesn’t really change the way I feel about my leadership abilities, but it does give me a plan on what to do differently going forward.

What adaptive leadership characteristics do you need to display in order to be a better leader, if any?

As reflected by my adaptive leadership survey,  the components I’m most lacking are identifying the adaptive challenge and giving the work back to the people. The second one has always been difficult for me, because I get paranoid about not finishing projects and tend to take on the bulk of the work for myself. If I want to be a truly effective leader who helps her followers learn and grow, I’m going to have to learn to delegate and let followers work through difficult problems on their own without stepping in.

**P.S. – sorry this whole thing is in bold text for some reason, I couldn’t get it to stop doing that.

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Blog Post 11, Nov. 13th 2015

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