Theory Application

Adaptation is defined as: a process of modification to become more suitable for a new use or purpose; becoming adjusted to new conditions.

During our LDR200L class, we were given leadership theories for our leadership workshops. I was beyond happy to receive the theory of Adaptive Leadership. Since I have came to college I have been a chameleon: always adapting  to constantly changing conditions. Leaders must always think their feet and adapt to ever-changing conditions that they encounter. In my opinion, this theory is most related to everyday life because life never goes according to plan 24/7.

The Adaptive Leadership Theory made its first appearance in 1994.  Ronald Heifetz, the researcher behind this theory published his book Leadership Without Easy Answers, which included findings on adaptive leadership. Heifetz continued his studies and brought multiple other researchers in to help with this process. He worked with Sinder, Grashow, Linsky, and Laurie to start developments on the Adaptive Theory. The Adaptive Theory made way into the field and is still being researched today to add new findings.

With this specific leadership theory there are four different perspective to look at and six behaviors. The perspectives include biology, service, psychotherapy, and systems. Each perspective explains how adaptation occurs in four different ways. The six behaviors include: Get on the Balcony, Identify Adaptive Challenges, Regulate Distress, Maintain Disciplined Attention, Give Work Back to the People, and Protect Leadership Voices from Below. Each of the behaviors provide an outline of what a Leader should do when they are adapting. Each behavior is free flowing, and links one behavior to the next. I believe that Adaptive Leadership has many more strengths than weaknesses. One strength is that this approach is process based. The theory clearly explains the interaction between leader and followers, which can clear up any ambiguity one may have about their interaction. The approach can also be used within any professional field. Students in college can use this approach and so can doctors in the ER. Since this theory is still fairly new, there is a lack of empirical evidence to back up all of the claims, however, more research is being done to gain new knowledge about the theory.

This leadership theory revolves around adaptation during any possible situation. I have experienced many instances in college where I had to think on my feet and adapt to different situations. When on the LAS in the D trip, we were always prepared for something to change within a minutes notice. Jesi constantly reminded us to just “willow with it.” As leaders we must always be able to react to any situation. While on the trip, I personally had to adapt to the type of service I was doing. Going into the trip I was told that I would be volunteering in the kitchen, an area that I felt very comfortable in. However, once we arrived, I was informed that I was no longer working kitchen. I was a little upset regarding the change, but knew that I had to adapt. I quickly was able to identify the adaptive challenge and work efficiently to change. In the end, I had a wonderful time doing my newly assigned task. Another time I used this theory in my life is in my fraternity. Being on the executive board of my fraternity comes with its challenges. As the member educator, I am responsible for ensuring that all members are on track with their education programs as well as schedule meetings with new members. College guys are busy. It was not until I got into college did I realize this. Being in charge of organizing all of the meetings can be tough when people are  constantly busy or abruptly cancel meetings. I have used steps of the theory such as regulating distress to keep myself sane as well as keep everyone engaged.

The Adaptive Leadership theory makes the most sense to me because it can truly be displayed in everyday life. Leaders can see it. Followers can see it. In college, everyday is a new challenge, and you don’t really know what life is going to throw your way. By understanding the Adaptive Leadership theory, one can think quickly on their feet and make the necessary change to tackle the problem at hand.

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