Title

Adaptive Leadership and the millenial generation

Department

University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. Dept. of Psychology

Publisher

University of Tennessee at Chattanooga

Place of Publication

Chattanooga (Tenn.)

Abstract

Businesses in today’s fast-paced, digitally enhanced, environment have expressed a need for an adaptive approach to leadership that allows employees to demonstrate rapid decision making, enhanced collaboration among employees, and strengthened work conducted by teams, which are in some cases now virtual in nature (Reeves, Malone, & O’Driscoll, 2008). Adaptive Leadership Theory has been described as a leadership approach that has evolved from situational, transformational, contingency, and complexity leadership theories (Nastanski & Berkey, 2002), representing “leadership that is capable of tackling and solving complex problems and issues with collective, collaborative, timely, effective, and innovative solutions” (Cojocar, 2009, p. 1). Adaptive Leadership Theory is a subset of the Complexity Leadership Theory and is focused on mobilizing individuals to address changes in an organization’s environment that may have an uncertain or vague path to success (Northouse, 2016). The adaptability proposed by this emerging leadership theory would include components of Transactional Leadership, which has an exchange component of providing rewards for action, and Transformational Leadership, which encourages strong performance and development through encouragement and motivation (Northouse, 2016). Adaptive Leadership focuses on the actions and behaviors of leaders as they assist employees to grow and to perform at a higher level, meeting the challenges of a continually changing environment. Within this theoretical leadership approach, the organization is supported to evolve and thrive as opposed to simply changing within the established limits of the existing organization (Heifetz et al, 2009). The introduction of this theory of leadership practice into the workplace is coupled with the impact the Millennial Generation is beginning to have on the workforce. The members of the leading edge of the Millennial Generation (those born between 1978 and 1996) have graduated from college and they began joining the workforce in the early 2000s (Hershatter & Epstein, 2010). Additionally, their parents from the Baby Boomer Generation are now retiring or approaching retirement age (Espinoza et al., 2010). Based on the results of the current study, there was a surprising number of Millennials who have already attained leadership positions within the targeted company (35.2% of the sample), with 43.7% of the sample representing Generation X and 21.1% representing the Baby Boomer Generation. The purpose of the researcher’s study was to examine if individuals in leadership roles performed higher on an adaptive leadership scale than did employees from previous generations, specifically as it relates to video gaming behavior (more prevalent in recent generations). While there were no statistically significant differences found regarding the impact of video games and the development of adaptive leadership skills, there was an increase of average scores on the Adaptive Leadership Competency Program Assessment from Baby Boomer Generation to Generation X, and a further increase from Generation X to Millennials. Demographic results revealed that many of these Millennial individuals had been in a leadership role for less than 36 months. In this presentation, recommendations for future study and application of the adaptive leadership concepts, as well as assessment opportunities, will be shared and discussed. Examples of specific ways in which the theory can be applied to various work settings, through adaptation to change, will be discussed in context to biology (Darwin’s finches), the US Military (adaptation following the end of the Cold War and the rise of terrorism), and the researcher’s current professional application.

Date

10-22-2016

Subject

Industrial and organizational psychology

Document Type

presentations

Language

English

Rights

Under copyright.

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Adaptive Leadership and the millenial generation

Businesses in today’s fast-paced, digitally enhanced, environment have expressed a need for an adaptive approach to leadership that allows employees to demonstrate rapid decision making, enhanced collaboration among employees, and strengthened work conducted by teams, which are in some cases now virtual in nature (Reeves, Malone, & O’Driscoll, 2008). Adaptive Leadership Theory has been described as a leadership approach that has evolved from situational, transformational, contingency, and complexity leadership theories (Nastanski & Berkey, 2002), representing “leadership that is capable of tackling and solving complex problems and issues with collective, collaborative, timely, effective, and innovative solutions” (Cojocar, 2009, p. 1). Adaptive Leadership Theory is a subset of the Complexity Leadership Theory and is focused on mobilizing individuals to address changes in an organization’s environment that may have an uncertain or vague path to success (Northouse, 2016). The adaptability proposed by this emerging leadership theory would include components of Transactional Leadership, which has an exchange component of providing rewards for action, and Transformational Leadership, which encourages strong performance and development through encouragement and motivation (Northouse, 2016). Adaptive Leadership focuses on the actions and behaviors of leaders as they assist employees to grow and to perform at a higher level, meeting the challenges of a continually changing environment. Within this theoretical leadership approach, the organization is supported to evolve and thrive as opposed to simply changing within the established limits of the existing organization (Heifetz et al, 2009). The introduction of this theory of leadership practice into the workplace is coupled with the impact the Millennial Generation is beginning to have on the workforce. The members of the leading edge of the Millennial Generation (those born between 1978 and 1996) have graduated from college and they began joining the workforce in the early 2000s (Hershatter & Epstein, 2010). Additionally, their parents from the Baby Boomer Generation are now retiring or approaching retirement age (Espinoza et al., 2010). Based on the results of the current study, there was a surprising number of Millennials who have already attained leadership positions within the targeted company (35.2% of the sample), with 43.7% of the sample representing Generation X and 21.1% representing the Baby Boomer Generation. The purpose of the researcher’s study was to examine if individuals in leadership roles performed higher on an adaptive leadership scale than did employees from previous generations, specifically as it relates to video gaming behavior (more prevalent in recent generations). While there were no statistically significant differences found regarding the impact of video games and the development of adaptive leadership skills, there was an increase of average scores on the Adaptive Leadership Competency Program Assessment from Baby Boomer Generation to Generation X, and a further increase from Generation X to Millennials. Demographic results revealed that many of these Millennial individuals had been in a leadership role for less than 36 months. In this presentation, recommendations for future study and application of the adaptive leadership concepts, as well as assessment opportunities, will be shared and discussed. Examples of specific ways in which the theory can be applied to various work settings, through adaptation to change, will be discussed in context to biology (Darwin’s finches), the US Military (adaptation following the end of the Cold War and the rise of terrorism), and the researcher’s current professional application.