Adaptive Leadership, Part 1: Introduction

Welcome to a new series of blogs on adaptive leadership. adaptive leadership

The global threat of the unforeseen and insidious COVID-19 virus brought on unusual and challenging times. Throughout the pandemic, I conducted webinars, provided podcasts and blogs, and offered advice and counseling. This series is based largely on a webinar I conducted last year that addressed the challenges leaders face as we work our way through the unanticipated changes that have been imposed on us.

This series will review the adaptive leadership skills now in demand and expands to address future challenges as we evolve and emerge from the pandemic. I do not foresee a return to the pre-pandemic normal. Instead, I believe we’ll be looking at a hybrid of “pre-pandemic” and “during-pandemic” “normal.”

Who Saw This Coming?

Prior to the pandemic, I really couldn’t envision having this conversation, but we’re now faced with the new reality of living and working in a distributed environment, and we have to figure out how to lead effectively within this context. Some people call it “digital leadership,” but I prefer the term focused leadership, and focused leadership that is also adaptive is what our new environment calls for.

That need for focus is the subject that spurred me to share some thoughts with you about what it takes to be an effective leader and to be adaptive in the world in which we find ourselves. My thinking is that we can benefit as much as ever, if not more so, from building a culture such as the one I outlined in my book We’re All In. Building a culture in which people are “all in” is vital to succeed in an environment where, in many cases, we have to work from home. For better or for worse, we’ve merged the home and work environments, and I think we need to be willing to adapt to this merger.

As I considered the best approach for this discussion, I realized that The Big 6 Leadership Principles® serve as an excellent baseline for our adaptive leadership model. (For additional deep dives into these leadership principles, you may also wish to read my book We’re All In and my eBook Leadership in the Information Age.)

How the Big 6 Applies

The Big 6 are enduring principles, so I don’t think we need to invent new principles for the world we now inhabit. The Big 6 were relevant six months ago, six years ago, and I think they’re relevant now. What we need to do, therefore, is simply find more ways to adapt them to our altered environment. I have been exposed to the Big 6 for many years—most frequently by screwing them up and learning from my mistakes! I learned that these principles allow me to fail but also give me opportunities to grow. Despite the wisdom of the people who were good enough to teach them to me, I sometimes went out and misapplied them anyway. Then I had to learn them the hard way.

For a moment, let’s quickly review the Big 6:

1. Set the Azimuth
2. Listen
3. Trust and Empower
4. Do the Right Thing When No One is Looking
5. When in Charge, Take Charge
6. Balance the Personal and Professional

Looking Forward

In future blogs in this series, you’ll learn how these leadership principles can play a vital role in helping us adapt to our new environments — and whatever else the future may bring.

Adaptive Leadership



This blog is based on my eBook “Who Saw This Coming?” You can get a free downloadable copy of the entire eBook here.

Enjoy the Journey!





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