Winning Practices of Adaptive Leadership Teams

Winning Practices of Adaptive Leadership Teams


Winning Practices of Adaptive Leadership Teams

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    What Adaptive Team Leaders Do Differently

    Although the teams in the study display varying degrees of shared leadership, the CEOs from the most adaptive teams play a distinctive role in creating the team context for adaptation. The top-three-scoring teams in our study ranked highest on survey questions related directly to leadership, suggesting a relationship between the adaptive capacity of the CEO and overall team performance. Our regression analysis also reflected an extremely strong relationship between the assessment of the team leader and the overall team score on the survey.

    Ultimately, we found that the more discerning CEOs excel at a set of best practices that create a team context for successful adaptation. (See Exhibit 5.)


    For instance, such CEOs have mastered the finer nuances of people management. “I spend a lot of time thinking about the personality types that we need,” said an executive at a hospitality company. “Every step I take, I realize what I have and what I need. A leader should also have a bifocal lens, looking at the collective strength of the team and at the same time connecting with every individual.”

    These leaders also help people solve problems on their own and reward accomplishment with autonomy, giving individuals a way to engage in additional independent problem solving in the future. “My role is about destination- and standard-setting, not about dictating how everything happens,” said an executive of a financial services company.

    In addition, the team leader is a role model who inspires through example and displays a deep commitment to the company’s vision. “I have tried to lead by example, specifically with regard to the layer of our senior management,” said the hospitality company executive. “If we don’t have alignment among the top ten leaders, we won’t be able to get alignment within the 100,000 employees.” And an executive at a financial services company said, “Norms will largely mirror my example. I need to set standards of what is valued and acceptable in terms of quality, behavior, and integrity. The tone is driven by me, whether I like it or not. The team looks for cues from the leader.”