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Leap from Crisis

The two phases of Adaptive Leadership are crisis and change, as explained by Ronald Heifetz, Alexander Grashow, and Marty Linsky in "Adaptive Leadership in Practice." For leaders and organizations to consider creating and implementing adaptive change, they usually experience an urgent or emergency condition. Public safety leaders encounter emergencies daily and often try to implement quick technical fixes instead of adaptive change. Private organizations are less likely to implement change to improve their organizations, until there is a large crisis.

Here are Adaptive Leadership skills to turn a crisis into positive change:

Promote Adaptation

Doing what you have always done because it works, or used to work, keeps your organization stagnant. With constantly evolving economies and technologies, this makes it hard to grow or maintain existing customer loyalty. If you don't believe that your industry changes much, look at how much our society changes regularly -- cell phones, for example, constantly change to suit consumer demand. Future-thinking leaders are adapting to trends to maintain and exceed their market share. Small changes are a prudent method, enabling agility to easily modify and make the change more manageable for people in the organization.

Encourage Disequilibrium

Disturbance from crisis can be productive to encourage change, but too much can cause negative results in employees or customers fighting or fleeing your organization. Effective leaders manage the stress level for their organizations, moderating urgency and timeline demands to a manageable level, while pushing for more creativity and innovation.

Foster Leadership

Successful change happens when all levels of an organization embrace and implement it. Effective leaders empower everyone in the organization to contribute in a positive way. Diversity through listening to and learning from everyone, enables informed leadership, and enables a leader to admonish some of his own authority to create buy-in and new ideas. A fresh perspective enables a leader to disengage from the crisis and depart from his experience and emotions, enabling true innovation to occur. Authoritative leadership does not enable this kind of organizational environment.

For assistance in deciding how to implement change in your organization, contact us for advice. Get the perspective of an unbiased third-party to assist in your Adaptive Leadership.

Today I met with a friend that I began knowing as a professional networking contact over three years ago. After our discussion, I realized that some people have a gift for listening to others so well that they help you communicate your frustrations and come up with action items to work on your issues, not because you asked for help or even intended to ask for it, but because they heard you and were thoughtful enough to offer ideas to get you thinking about how to work on your issues.

About an hour after our talk, I was feeling uplifted and I realized that is what makes a great coach (and leader) -- being empathetic and wiling to share knowledge and life experience to improve someone else's thinking about their own life -- a coach's role is not to solve problems for others.

As a professional consultant/coach and trainer, my goal is to help others to see what they don't see, to understand how to change and do things differently for the betterment of their lives, careers, teams, etc. But I don't always think to follow my own advice when I am struggling -- to listen to someone else's perspective to help me change my thinking pattern. Today I am thankful for receiving coaching that helped me...even though I didn't intentionally seek it...I will make a point of seeking coaching for a perspective that I can use to change mine...

The most successful leaders continuously coach and develop their teams, individually and as a group. This proactive approach develops professionally-satisfied and challenged team players, as well as, a path to natural leadership succession in your organization.

How does a leader coach a team? Here are the essentials:

- Communicate the big picture perspective with your team, LISTEN to them, then ask coaching questions to get them on the same team goals, their individual learning needs and goals will come out too; address both to show that you value them and LISTENED to them, while bringing clarity and direction toward your organization's big picture goal.

- Be honest about your past successes and failures to give learning examples, to encourage creativity in trying new things without fear of failure. This develops trust that leads to mutual understanding and honesty from the team, plus continued learning and development of the team and leader when hearing the team's honesty.

- Once honesty and trust are established in a team, then positive accountability can be achieved in which proactive approaches are developed within the team, not reactive blaming for organizational problems. The leader can nurture this behavior by continually affirming the positive and acknowledging those who create it -- emphasize that everyone in the team/organization, regardless of position or title, can grow, learn and succeed professionally and personally.

- Encourage constructive conflict to achieve higher understanding of issues and create solutions with more productive results. It is only when problems arise that we develop a way to create a better process/approach/solution. Again, open and honest communication is the key to team success in dealing with team conflicts.

When a team is not functioning well together, the consistency of the leader's actions and communication can bring a team to more successful interaction and results. The commitment of the leader to the team and the team to the leader is vital to team success; proactive coaching and team development creates this environment.

For assistance in developing a coaching leadership style, contact us.

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