GM522 Leadership in Context
Weekly Reading Reflection
Mark L. Lastimoso, Fuller Theological Seminary
“Adaptive change” is a work of leadership that evokes adjustments for an organization to deal with conflicts in a way that is unconventional, painful, yet realistic. It is not a technical solution to a problem. This idea does not merely rely on leaders for answers or solutions but leaders leading people to discover their collective resources, shared responsibilities, common goals to achieve something worthwhile despite the harsh realities of change. Adaptive change asks leaders to be emotionally stable. Firm yet resolve. It is unconventional, in a sense, that it is not the traditional view of leader and follower relationship e.g. leaders as shepherds. It is painful because those who are entrusted on the leaders care are not shielded from conflicts but exposes them to it with a demand of responsible action towards a shared resolution of the conflict. Adaptive change is a realistic idea for a changing world with myriads of problems. It accepts the fact that leaders are not saviors of mankind but their work is to lead people. This work of adjustments is both an art and a skill that can be learned and relearned.
Why is this idea is important? Because leaders cannot solve all the problems of people or organization and cannot guarantee an outcome. There are technical problems that can be solved technically. And adaptive challenges that are not possible to solve by technical means. Leaders instead use this idea as a process that will help the organization and people realize they need to adjust to the difficult task. It is significant indeed for this reason that there are unsolvable problems but there are solvable relationships and survivable environment in which people can learn to adapt. The world has changed. But what has not changed are the principles that human beings are capable of rational and necessary changes. People need to understand that change begins within them. Inside each human heart lies the answer. God does not force people to change. He gave us time and resources to discover that we need to change for our own welfare and hope. Leaders must then adapt.
Let me explain some things I will do differently for having learned this idea. First, I will need to master the six principles of adaptive change and practice these principles [in my terms: Top view, identify, regulate, discipline, give, protect down]. How? I will need to digest each concept everyday by writing on a journal each of them. Also I will try to imagine my responses to a specific problem using theses principles. I need to see them clearly playing out in my mind and see if I have work through my adaptive change principles. Second, I need to remind myself that I am not a savior of the world nor do I have a solution to every problems. If I can technically solve it I will, but if it is phase II or III adaptive change kicks in. In order for me to master the idea I will need to test this and measure my growth by constant reflection. I know this will not be easy. There will be bumps and humps along the way but surely what I learned here is worth expanding and experiencing. Finally, I will begin to adapt change within me, in my own heart, so that I can demand change in a way people can see that I have applied it first in my own life. So then, and only then, its worth demanding and following.
Ronald A. Heifetz and Donald L. Laurie. “The Work of Leadership.” Harvard Business Review December 2001: 3.