Monday, March 22, 2010

102. Adaptive Leadership vs. Generative Leadership

Peter Senge is the guru on Organizational Learning. His book The Fifth Discipline is a culminating work that brings a lot of his wisdom and insight onto one volume. It is a truly remarkable read and it brings a host of insight into the dynamics of how a group of individuals can progress as a group, or as a community, or in his field of study, as an organization. The idea is that there is an immense amount of human capital in every community, and the challenge is to draw this human capital out into the community where the rest of the organization can benefit from it as a whole. The community learns, nit just individuals.

Senge wrote an article in 1990 called the The New work of Leaders that pretty much summarizes his lengthy book on the subject. He makes a clear distinction in this article between Adaptive leadership and Generative leadership. The goal of adaptive leadership is to adapt to the environment. In a sense, adaptive leadership is provoked by a challenge, or a problem. This kind of leadership is crucial for the survival of an organization and any community that wants to endure. However, Senge does us a favor by pointing out that adaptive leadership is really just the precursor to a higher form of leadership. It is a necessary skill to keep the organization viable, but it is not the only skill required. You also need generative leadership. The difference between the two is found in the sources of energy that fund them. Adaptive leadership is funded by problems. It comes int existence when faced with a challenge that exceeds its repertoire of solutions. However, the problem with this this scenario is that once the problem is solved, leadership recedes into the background. It is critical to have adaptive leadership, but there is another form of leadership that gives adaptive leadership its proper role.

Generative leadership is funded by vision. Vision funds movement, and if you are going to have continuous movement, you are going to need a robust vision. Generative leadership is funded by a vision of what can and should be. If all we have is adaptive leadership, we will be reacting the entire time. Generative leadership moves us beyond reaction and problem focused leadership to more forward looking, advancing leadership.

I believe, that the apostolic, prophetic and evangelistic giftings are the most generative forms of leadership the church has. Whenever the full 5 fold giftings are operating, the church becomes truly adaptive, but the goal is not just to be adaptive. You also want to be generative.

You cousl also stretch this out and say that you could be generative, and not adaptive. In this sense, your capacity to generate movement is significant, but it will be short lived as it will not be able to cope with the diversity of challenges it will face along the way. Adaptability brings durability, but generativ-ity brings vitality.

No comments: