IBM’s global study of over 1,500 CEOs revealed that CEOs are acutely concerned with the pace of change in today’s world and figuring out how to run organizations ill prepared to deal with that change. As a leader, you can’t accurately predict the future, but you can increase the capacity of your organization to deal with an uncertain one. With the right approach, you can coach employees to become more resilient, stay grounded in ambiguity and learn through failure.
Harvard professors Ron Heifetz and Marty Linsky created a concept called adaptive leadership, based on the evolutionary biology concept of adaptation. To the authors, adaptive leadership means leading through challenges where there are no known answers and situations are unprecedented. Their recommendation for succeeding in ambiguity is to test. Create conditions in which your teams can invest in a series of experiments to harvest learning. Allow them to try things you suspect will fail. Make the purpose of the experiments to provide information and course corrections. Then use that knowledge to identify a better path forward.