The more I look, listen, read and learn, to more convinced I am that our approach to leadership education and development needs a major rethink. Rather than focusing on static â€™snapshotsâ€™ leaders need to learn how to identify patters, articulate ideas and provide metaphors that enable accurate interpretation of what is happening within their personal and business networks. The temptation (and legacy) is to default to finding â€˜technical solutionsâ€™ – those answers that sit within the current paradigm and which can be analyzed, measured and managed – rather than engage in the true work of leadership; that of engaging themselves and others in the necessary â€˜adaptive challengesâ€™ at hand.
â€˜Adaptive leadershipâ€™ according to Parks in her book â€˜Leadership can be taughtâ€™ (which explores the philosophy and methodology of Harvard leadership virtuoso Ron Heifetz – purchase online at Amazon.com or Kalahari.net) involves looking beneath the surface, embracing new mindsets, new learning and new behaviour; engaging complexity – seeing the whole and challenging deeply held assumptions and values. The kind of leadership that engages both heart and mind. In a predicable world where tomorrow resembles today, the old approach to leadership can survive. However, we no longer live in such a world. We live – and have to lead – in a world that is â€˜tinyâ€™, a world that is connected, a world of bewildering paradox and one that is no standing still. This world requires a new type of leadership and those tasked with teaching leadership will find less relevance in past models and will have to themselves, learn from the future.