Platt Perspective on Business and Technology

Adaptive leadership and thriving in the face of change 3: creating and sustaining stability and confidence in the face of change and uncertainty

Posted in social networking and business, strategy and planning by Timothy Platt on August 2, 2013

This is my third installment to a series that addresses the sometimes conflicting requirements of stable consistency as a leader, and the need for flexible adaptability as a leader – where both can become crucially important simultaneously and certainly at a time of rapid change, uncertainty or crisis (see Part 1 and Part 2.)

I primarily focused in Part 2 on the need for consistency, and for an effective leader to provide a solid and stable core that everyone in their organization can turn to. I wrote that from an expressed awareness as to how different leaders, like different people in general, have their own personalities and perspectives, their own favored communications styles and their own particular comfort zones for delving into the details and for stepping back from them to take a big picture perspective. I wrote about this constancy and stability in terms of how a business as a single organization has and adheres to a single overarching mission and vision, and a single overall strategy and a single overall set of organization-wide goals and priorities – if, that is, it is a stable organization that is capable of overall unified competitive strength.

My point of focus here is on the adaptive flexibility side to effective leadership. It is one thing, and generally a positive one, to hold to a solid and consistent picture of what your business stands for, and of what you seek to accomplish with it as a matter of addressing and meeting marketplace needs and providing value to your communities. It is another, and much less positive a thing to attempt to carry this stable consistency out through sclerotic, inflexible operational practices and processes and by rote, blind adherence to processes that ignore and even deny changing circumstances or evolving needs.

• At least as a first draft evaluation of what adaptive leadership means, mission and vision and strategy may be settled and established, but how their demands would be met, day to day and in the face of change should be flexible.
• And then along comes disruptive change and qualitatively new competitive challenge from the outside, or equally disruptive new potential opportunity from within.
• Evolutionary change in challenge and opportunity best lead to consistent stability in overall mission, vision and strategy and to gradual evolutionary shifts in overall goals and priorities. This is where leadership can almost become an ongoing exercise in fine tuning.
• Revolutionary change and the sudden emergence of the disruptively new, call for fundamental change at the core and to overall strategy, and at times even to the reframing and changing of underlying mission and vision as well. That is why these events are deemed to be disruptive – they compel change in what has been, up to then, the stable and consistent core as well as in more peripheral areas of day to day implementation.

As I have been discussing in this series, one of the keys to long-term effective leadership is to know which is which and from early on as events begin to unfold. That, among other things, is where effective leadership means working in particular ways and according to some very particular types of standards – in a socially communicative context. No one can see everything and no one can think of everything entirely on their own. And that is where adaptive leadership connects into the business social networking and communications arena.

I am going to continue this discussion in a next series installment where I will delve into some of the issues of leading from the top but as an involved participating member of a community too, and of bringing others into the processes of creating and defining this stable center while enabling adaptive flexibility. Meanwhile, you can find this posting and related at Business Strategy and Operations – 3 and the the first and second page of that directory. You can also find this in Social Networking and Business as I will be connecting this series’ discussion to postings and series offered there too.

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