Discussion Questions and Exercises

  1. What is the main function of leaders under the Adaptive Leadership approach? What are the differences of this approach from those we have studied in previous chapters?
  2. Other leadership approaches we have studied so far also take into account followers’ motivations (e.g., path–goal, LMX, transformational, authentic). How does the Adaptive Leadership approach differ?
  3. Think of examples of each of the following leader activities: mobilize, motivate, organize, orient, and focus the attention of others. How are each of these expressed across the contexts of self, organizations, community, and society?
  4. How does understanding a biological perspective on humans’ evolutionary adaptation to different environments help explain the assumptions of Adaptive Leadership?
  5. When have you experienced technical challenges at work? Technical and adaptive challenges? Adaptive challenges? Did the responses of leaders in those situations correlate with the prescribed behaviors of the Adaptive Leadership model?
  6. How can leaders motivate followers to change?
  7. How would a leader discern whether or not a challenge “strikes at the core feelings and thoughts of others?”
  8. Can you think of other archetypes or basic patterns of adaptive change besides the four suggested by Heifetz, Grashow, and Linsky (2009)?
  9. Explain the concept of a holding environment. What would it look like in a virtual team environment?
  10. What are some best practices you can share about how leaders can effectively regulate personal distress?
  11. Apply the concept of “disciplined attention” to the line of work you hope to go into some day.
  12. In your current job, or role as a student, what would it mean for a leader to “give the work back to you?”
  13. How can leaders help followers distinguish between fantasy and reality at work? Can you think of a specific example of a work-related fantasy?
  14. How would you like being a student at Summerhill, in England? How would you like teaching there? Would you flourish as a student or teacher?
  15. Where do you draw the line between “protecting voices from below” and giving a platform to chronic complainers in an organization?
  16. Does the Adaptive Leadership approach work well in every situation? In a stable and profitable company, with no environmental stressors, would this still be a useful approach for a leader to use?
  17. Do you think men and women enact the prescribed leader behaviors differently? If so, how?
  18. Explain how adaptive leadership can be applied at a societal level.
  19. How can leaders “learn ways to curtail their influence and shift problem-solving back to the people involved?”
  20. Complete Case Studies 11.1 and 11.2. Answer all questions related to these case studies.
  21. Complete the Adaptive Leadership Questionnaire and ask five coworkers or friends to assess your leadership as well. Average their assessments on all six measures. How does their average compare to your self-assessment of each behavior? Discuss how knowing your behavioral strengths and growth areas might assist you in a leadership situation. Which of the behavioral skills is hardest to develop?