The Practice of Adaptive Leadership: Tools and Tactics for Changing Your Organization and the World

by Ronald A. Heifetz, Marty Linsky, and others. Cambridge Leadership Associates, 2009.

Many leadership books deal almost solely with theory. Such books can be interesting but not practical. This book is highly practical. The authors have taken the leadership dynamics originally described in Heifetz’s book Leadership Without Easy Answers and offered real-world ways to apply the ideas. You will read of a variety of interventions. These interventions help a leader consider their use of self; how their words, emotions, thoughts, and actions contribute to a healthier community or organization. The book is written for leaders in many different circumstances, including a religious context. An example of one of the interventions described in detail is invoking a variety of interpretations. An event occurs. Now, the leader needs to make sense of it. One way to make sense of the event is to invite multiple explanations. Various interpretations create an opportunity for a leader to examine multiple responses. Such flexibility typically creates the possibility for better outcomes. Other interventions described in detail include expanding informal authority, growing your personal support network, and knowing what activates your defensive triggers. Some clergy leaders will use this book almost like a devotional about leadership; others will find it useful to study together in a peer network. If you want to study leadership, there are other books available. If you want to actively reflect on leadership and consider new behaviors, read this book and keep it nearby.