TWU Adaptive Leadership Discussion

As you prepare to respond to this post, refer to the “Adaptive Leadership” Learning Activity. Of the technological challenges that leaders must be able to handle, which one listed in the reading poses the greatest threat to a company you know well? Please explain, and provide examples to support your response. What do you think is required to turn this threat around in that organization?   

Adaptive Leadership

Are you a Baby Boomer, Generation X, or Generation Y (Millennial)? As you read this section, consider what leadership style you would use when leading other generations. Which adaptive leadership style should you use to become a more effective leader to form, enrich, and sustain your team culture? Record your response in your Learning Journal.

Adaptability is an individual’s ability to recognize changes in the environment, identify critical elements of the new situation, and trigger appropriate changes to meet new requirements. Adaptability involves an effective change in leadership behavior, in response to an altered situation.

Photo of a green Chameleon against a green backgroundAdapting to meet environmental changes is an important leadership asset.© Underworld111/iStock/Thinkstock

In business, transformational leadership is often considered the most effective approach to use in a fluid environment or when a crisis situation occurs, Transformational leaders have integrity, inspire people with a shared vision of the future, set clear goals, motivate people toward these goals, manage delivery, and communicate well with their teams.

However, leadership is not a “one size fits all” philosophy; often, leaders must adapt their approach to leadership to fit a changing situation or environmental change. This is why it’s useful to gain a thorough understanding of other leadership styles; after all, the more approaches you’re familiar with, the more you can shape your approach to the situation or the environment presented to your organization.

Each day, leaders are presented with new challenges that are unpredictable or are caused by environmental changes. Leaders and their leadership teams must prepare themselves to face the effects of stress, external influences that threaten their organization product or services, government policy that could change their operational climate, and the impact of ever-changing technology.

Some of these factors are mitigated through situational awareness, proper training, and open dialogue with the leadership team and superiors. However, each leader must consider these external influences and plan accordingly, as effective leaders recognize the tools needed to adapt to changing situations.

The leader must be cognizant of and adapt to evolving threats to the organization and the people he/she serves, take advantage of innovations (technological, procedural, etc.), and adjust to societal changes. Leaders are guided by the larger organization’s strategic vision and mission, but should consider the following:

  • Protect the organization and its employees.
  • Prevent being surprised by situational changes.
  • Prevail against environmental changes that would disrupt product or service delivery of the organization.


Learning how to modify organizational priorities to meet environmental challenges leads to the development of an agile and adaptive leader who can quickly assess and anticipate the actions necessary to mitigate unfavorable outcomes. Understanding the effects of stress on the human dimension of an organization is an important factor for the adaptive leader. While organizational stress is constant, leaders have to understand how situational changes can move an organization or an employee over the fine line between eustress and distress.


Another factor the adaptive leader should be cognizant of is the importance of technology. Although we, as individuals and a society, have dealt with rapid changing effects of technology, the current changes are ever increasing at a faster rate and are causing organizations to rethink and redesign themselves frequently or fear losing their performance or unique edge over competing organizations. Modern leaders must stay abreast of technological advances and learn about applications, advantages, and requirements that are practical to the organization, as the right technology, properly integrated, can increase operational effectiveness and organizational survivability. Technological challenges can include:

  • Learning the strengths and vulnerabilities of different technologies that support the team and its mission.
  • Thinking how the organization will operate with other organizations that are less or more technologically complex.
  • Considering the effect of technology on the time available to analyze problems, make decisions, and act on a situation; events today are fast paced and the requirement for making quick decisions adds to individual uncertainty, strain on personal confidence, and to the associated stress levels that accompany the risks taken by the leader.

Leveraging today’s technology to influence followers is important, as many organizations work in a virtual organizational environment separated in time and space, but connected by technology. One downside of technological advances is that they can reduce employee skill level in performing tasks manually. In those instances where technology fails, or is wrongly applied, the leadership challenge shifts to a manual training and performance rather than a technological process. Today’s leader has increased information to base decisions on; a possible second-order effect of enhanced technology is information overload. Too much information reduces the leader’s ability to synthesize the information and inform superiors and employees in an accurate and timely manner. Reporting systems that do not create more work and identify key or critical information requirements need to be identified.

Adaptive leaders need to understand how to leverage the positive. Technology can increase an organization’s efficiency and effectiveness in accomplishing tasks. However, technology also brings fasted-paced changes to organizations, and leaders need to recognize the impact it has on their teams in the formation, enrichment, and sustainment stages. Change affects the leadership climate and leaders need to understand how to adapt themselves and their organization to meet the technological challenges that influence the actions of employees. Not doing so can cause an unhealthy separation between the leader and the led, affecting optimum team performance. Besides the aspects of adaptability and team leadership we have discussed thus far, a leader should understand various power positions and how each can affect team members differently.

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