Collaborative Leadership
Theme: Adaptive Leadership

Adaptive Leadership - An Overview

To achieve large scale impact, leaders must learn to navigate complex systems that are continually shifting and changing.  Diagnosing the nature of the problem, understanding the components that make up the complex system and determining how you, as a leader, might effectively influence the system are key components of adaptive leadership. 

This spring, Tamarack partnered up with Collaboration for Impact to offer an Adaptive Leadership Masterclass series exploring these issues as well as the connections between leadership, authority and power. Adaptive leaders are skilled at creating a container or holding the environment for complex issues so that different sources of knowledge can be accessed to move from strategy to impact. 

Working in an adaptive context is challenging. Making traction on a complex issue means that there will be those that gain and those that face a loss. Building adaptive leadership capacity can help us to identify potential loss early and develop strategies to navigate loss.

Below are some of the key resources from our exploration of Adaptive Leadership that we are excited to share with you.



The Core Resource: The Practice of Adaptive Leadership

Ronald Heifetz, Alexander Grashow, and Martin Linsky.  2009. Harvard Business Press.

The core resource for the Adaptive Leadership masterclass highlights both ideas and tactics for changing organizations and communities.  The book is divided into sections including the theory behind the practice of adaptive leadership, how to diagnose the system in which you are operating, key strategies for mobilizing the system, seeing yourself as a system and deploying yourself to influence the system. 

In the practice of adaptive leadership, the focus on self as both a system and an actor are critical.  Leaders who are in tune with their own capacities, power, purpose and role can learn how to leverage these capacities to mobilize and shift systems.

Find out more about The Practice of Adaptive Leadership here

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A Webinar 

Explore the core concepts of Adaptive Leadership

  • The Adaptive Leadership in a Changing World webinar provides an introduction into the core concepts of Adaptive Leadership. Liz Skelton, Co-Founder, Collaboration for Impact, Australia joins Liz Weaver, Co-CEO, Tamarack Institute and shares her thoughts about change, power, leadership and creating the conditions for adaptive change to occur. Liz Skelton takes listeners through five trends that can either prevent or enable adaptive leadership to occur. 

    Watch the Adaptive Leadership in a Changing World webinar
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An Adaptive Leadership Masterclass

Catch up on some of the key resources created at Tamarack's Adaptive Leadership Masterclass

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Additional Resources

The following resources will deepen your understanding and knowledge as you build your own practice of Adaptive Leadership.

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Collaborative Leadership

The Learning Centre's exploration of Adaptive Leadership has been curated by Liz Weaver and feeds into Tamarack's Collaborative Leadership idea area. Liz is Co-CEO and Strategic Lead for Collective Impact at the Tamarack Institute. 

Learn more about Collaborate Leadership