Future Fit # 25: On becoming an adaptive leader: Back to the future

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.

Future Fit # 25: On becoming an adaptive leader

Back to the future

ladders into the skyHead:
‘Back to the future’…sounds contradictory to everything we have been talking about when it comes to adaptive leadership doesn’t it? However adaptive leaders understand the importance of the past in influencing how best to engage the future. Historian Carl Becker said, “The past is a kind of screen on which we project the future”. Alfred Chandler Jr, Business Scholar, Harvard lecturer on strategy maintains that if you don’t know where it is you have been, you cannot know where it is you need to go. As a leader who hopes to lead his or her organization into the future one of the most powerful tools at your disposal is a sophisticated understanding of the past. Perhaps the greatest gift of the past is that of context. Leadership is always context specific and context is always the work of intelligently looking both backwards and forwards.

Take some time at your next Exco meeting (or retreat) to do some reflection on the ‘journey thus far’. Have individuals spend some time personally reflecting on how they understand and perceive what the road has been to the present. Write-up some of the words and images that are used and facilitate discussion around what emerges. Try to ensure the conversation comes out of both the ‘head’ and the ‘heart’ (ask questions such as: how did that event / process make you feel?). Explain clearly the purpose for this reflection and you may wish to use some of the thoughts / quotes articulated above.  Pause after doing this work before moving onto the next agenda item and give this important piece of work the status and engagement it deserves. It can then serve as a springboard into discussion concerning what the road ahead looks like.

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

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