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Leadership Ideas, Principles, and Competencies

The following leadership ideas are originally based on the work of Ronald Heifetz and Marty Linksy—two of the foremost authorities on the practice and teaching of leadership. Heifetz is the founding director of the Center of Public Leadership at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government, where he has taught for four decades. Linsky is also a professor at Harvard University. Both are known for their seminal work on how to build adaptive capacity in societies, government, businesses, and nonprofits. The definition of adaptive leadership they use is about “mobilizing people to make progress on their adaptive challenges, the types of problems that—as opposed to technical ones—defy simple solutions and require us to change our own behavior and how we relate to others.”[1] The Kansas Leadership Center has enhanced Heifetz and Linsky’s practice of adaptive leadership by simplifying it and making it more accessible and actionable. Ed O’Malley—President and CEO of the Kansas Leadership Center—has given us permission to use from his book—Your Leadership Edge—key ideas, principles, competencies, and dimensions that turn the definition of leadership into purposeful action. Find more information about the Kansas Leadership Center.

 

Key Ideas about Leadership

  • "Leadership and authority are different things.
  • Leadership revolves around opportunities and challenges.
  • Leadership and adaptive challenges go hand and hand.”[2]

 

Leadership Principles

  • “Leadership is an activity, not a position.
  • Anyone can do it, anytime and anywhere.
  • It starts with you and must engage others.”[3]
     

Leadership Competencies

  • Diagnose Situation: “We diagnose situations on two levels: surface and profound. Most of us spend our time on the surface, clarifying what we think we know and then reacting to these preconceptions. It’s hard to resist jumping into action. It’s expected. We are hired and paid for our expertise. But expertise is not enough when it comes to adaptive challenges. We must work to observe and understand the situation from all angles.”[4]
  • Manage Self: “Self-awareness and a willingness to do things differently are at the core of this competency. Those two qualities are key to making progress because humans hate change. Neuroscientific research has shown that our brains and nervous system prefers the way things are, no matter how crazy, rather than face the unknown. Managing self is a leadership competency, because progress requires taking risks and stepping outside your comfort zone for the sake of something you care about.”[5]
  • Energize Others: “When it comes to adaptive challenges, progress takes more than getting people riled up. The competency of Energize Others is about more than motivation. It means engaging all the stakeholders—those with influence and those affected but less likely to have their voices heard. Success comes when all parties are engaged and working on the challenge.”[6]
  • Intervene Skillfully: “The true measure of leadership is when our actions or interventions lead to progress. We define an intervention as an attempt by one or more people to make progress. To Intervene Skillfully is to do so consciously and purposefully. Skillful interventions help manage conflict by bringing it into the open and working through it in a productive way.”[7]

 

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[1] O’Malley, E., Cebula, A., (2015). Your leadership edge: Lead anytime, anywhere, p. 6. Kansas Leadership Center Press.

[2] O’Malley, E., Cebula, A., (2015). Your leadership edge: Lead anytime, anywhere, p.10. Kansas Leadership Center Press.

[3] O’Malley, E., Cebula, A., (2015). Your leadership edge: Lead anytime, anywhere, p.10. Kansas Leadership Center Press.

[4] O’Malley, E., Cebula, A. (2015). Your leadership edge: Lead anytime, anywhere. Kansas Leadership Center Press.

[5] O’Malley, E., Cebula, A. (2015). Your leadership edge: Lead anytime, anywhere. Kansas Leadership Center Press.

[6] O’Malley, E., Cebula, A. (2015). Your leadership edge: Lead anytime, anywhere. Kansas Leadership Center Press.

[7] O’Malley, E., Cebula, A. (2015). Your leadership edge: Lead anytime, anywhere. Kansas Leadership Center Press.