Future Fit # 12: On becoming an adaptive leader:It takes the time it takes

TomorrowToday has promised to help you start the journey towards being future fit – to becoming an adaptive leader. Being merely a ‘good leader’ will not suffice when it comes to meeting the challenge of the future. You will need to be a great leader and a ‘great leader’ is someone who understanding and practices adaptive leadership. This is part of a ‘boot camp’ through which we help you begin the journey of becoming future fit; we help you in the process of becoming an adaptive leader. Each ‘session’ is designed around a thought-bullet (Head) and an action point (Hand) – something to think about and something to try out. We have promised to keep the ‘head’ part to under a minute and the practical part (hand)…well, that is up to you.

ladders into the skyFuture Fit # 12: Patience: It takes the time it takes

Adaption takes time. When we take executives horse whispering, an experiential learning exercise that we use to illustrate the future requirements of leadership, the phrase, “it takes the time it takes” is repeatedly heard. Horses don’t work ‘to the clock’ and nor do adaptive processes. In biology progress is radical when seen over a long period of time yet incremental when viewed in the ‘here and now’. Adaptive leadership requires both persistence and patience; significant change is the result of incremental steps over a long period of time. In this transforming process culture gets reshaped and behaviours change. As an adaptive leader you will need to both see and understand the ‘big picture’ and be patient as you mobilize your people to meet the immediate challenges they face in the incremental steps towards the required adaption. Holding this tension between the immediate and the long-term is not easy; but then again nobody has said that leading adaptive change is easy and beware of anyone who suggests anything to the contrary!

Take out a blank piece of paper – or open up an app on your tablet that allows you the same functionality. List some of the adaptive challenges you are facing: these might be specific individual behaviours within your company that need changing or perhaps processes and bigger picture type things. Next to each listed challenge draw a timeline of where you ‘started’ and where it is you would like to ‘end up’ – or the desired outcome. Plot where you think you are currently along that timeline. What progress have you made? What is your next step? How far do you anticipate that you still need to go before you realize some of the intended outcomes? This simple exercise will help you put in perspective both the journey traveled and the journey that lies ahead. It will assist you in understanding the persistence and patience that leading adaptive change requires. Hang onto that timeline – it may prove interesting reading sometime down the road!

Index of Adaptive Leader series
Click here to see the full list of the Future Fit ‘sessions’


  1. So you want to become a great leader? | TomorrowToday - December 17, 2013

    […] Future Fit # 12: It takes the time it takes […]

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