The post-COVID-19 pandemic world requires a more thorough examination of traditional leadership paradigms to maintain employee engagement and retention. Today more than ever before, employees are searching for a sense of security and safety from their leaders. 

Adaptive leadership provides a framework that aligns with the complexities of our rapidly evolving world. It equips leaders with the insights necessary to keep pace and successfully guide their teams through uncertainty.  

This blog outlines the essence of adaptive leadership and its profound relevance to “leading human” in a new era of leadership.  

What is Adaptive Leadership? 

“Doing nothing requires effort. Over time, that effort is greater than the effort necessary to improve, or move somewhere better. The trick is to redirect energy.”

Max McKeown, author, Adaptability: The Art of Winning In An Age of Uncertainty

Adaptive leadership diverges from conventional leadership models by focusing on the ability to thrive amidst uncertainty and times of change. As stated by Brent Gleeson on, “Adaptive leadership, a philosophy originated by Ronald Heifetz – Founding Director of the Center for Public Leadership at Harvard Kennedy School – and his colleagues, offers a framework for tackling complex challenges by encouraging flexibility, experimentation, and learning. Unlike traditional leadership models that emphasize stability and control, adaptive leadership acknowledges that change is inevitable and that leaders must adapt their strategies accordingly.” Considering the tumultuous past few years, this leadership style can provide a breath of fresh air for employees.  

Under this model, leaders focus on anticipating future needs and effectively conveying those needs to key stakeholders. This allows leaders to develop collective understanding and support for relevant future risks and opportunities. Unlike traditional hierarchical structures, solutions to complex organizational issues emerge from the collective problem solving and innovation of the organization, not from a single authoritative leader. 

“What people resist is not change per se, but loss.”

Ronald A. Heifetz, author, The Practice of Adaptive Leadership: Tools and Tactics for Changing Your Organization and the World 

The above quote reflects a common cognitive bias, loss aversion. People tend to strongly prefer avoiding potential losses rather than acquiring gains of similar value. Because losses often carry greater emotional charge, people often opt for a path of least loss when making decisions. In organizations, change can be challenging because of the potential loss associated with undergoing a transition. However, this resistance to change often hinders progress and innovation.  

Adaptive leadership promotes a culture that embraces change and uncertainty as opportunities for growth as leaders empower their people to navigate turbulent waters with confidence. Adaptive leaders inspire innovation and collective action, charting a path toward a brighter and more resilient future. 

Adaptive leaders demonstrate flexibility, resiliency, and continuous learning, enabling them to better adapt when necessary. They encourage accountability and transparency throughout the decision-making process, which builds trust amongst their teams.

We can help: 

Change is inevitable, yet only 29% of leaders have received training dedicated to managing successful change ( 

Answering the demand for more effective and relevant leadership in a post-covid era means attenuating to the often-overlooked element of change – the human dynamics and interactions.  

The Lantern Group works with organizations providing the tools and insights leaders need to effectively anticipate, interpret, and respond to their team’s needs to drive the right attitudes and behaviors that lead to long-term success. Through a mix of behaviorally informed workshops, leadership coaching, and on-going consulting, we help organizations thrive through transitions.  

Anticipate an upcoming organizational change? Reach out to us today our team is ready to explore opportunities to help you navigate it successfully.