Course Subject
Course Number
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The Practice of Adaptive Leadership

Course Description

What does it mean to lead? This course is an exploration of the ideas and theories developed at Harvard University by Ron Heifetz and Marty Linsky over the last 30 years about the work of leaders in mobilizing groups to act to solve complex and seemingly intractable problems. We will contrast Heifetz and Linsky’s notion of leadership with the more traditional theories of leadership.

In this course, students will: (1) learn how to distinguish technical challenges from adaptive ones; (2) understand group dynamics and work avoidance when it comes to facing adaptive challenges; (3) the tactics of adaptive leadership, including pacing, forging partnerships, acting politically and distinguishing between the view from the 'balcony' and the 'dance floor'; and (4) the risks to those who take on adaptive leadership challenges.

After taking the course, students will have a stronger sense of their own opportunity to lead, regardless of the formal authority that they may or may not possess. The Practice of Adaptive Leadership will equip students with both a better understanding of how to approach threats that have resisted past attempts at resolution and a set of practical tools that they can employ in tackling those threats.