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Adaptive Leadership Exercise Assignment Sample

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Introduction Adaptive Leadership Exercise

In today’s world, leadership is in great demand and widely desirable. Leadership in the 21st century is defined primarily in terms of moral approaches, with scholars and executives alike taking an interest in genuine and ethical leadership (Northouse, 2021). Leaders’ humility and spirituality are also part of these new methods. Increasingly diverse populations in organisations necessitated the introduction of inclusive leadership in leadership theory and research. The following report is focused on evaluating leadership issues based on a case study of the Regional Manager of Wanilla Wholesale Distributors (WWD), Joe Milton. The report will identify realistic assumptions related to leadership based on a case study and try to address them for Joe and his team.

Five Realistic Assumptions Related to Leadership Aspects

Grace Tang, the Asia Pacific Manager of WWD, asked Joe about the status of the Asia Pacific area, growing expenses, employee and supplier concerns, and a general worry by more senior management that Joe’s region was slipping behind other regions in enhancing efficiency and market growth. In this aspect, the following are the leadership assumptions identified as the “less-than-perfect problems” as per the case scenario:

Joe is unable to establish a good relationship with the managers

If there was an operational difficulty, Joe would call any available manager in Singapore and work from there. It was his preference to let managers operate independently on their own set of priorities. In addition, Joe had devised a “regional variance report” where nations that did not meet the cost-cutting objectives were listed on the report, and this left managers feeling alienated and singled out for criticism when targets were not met.

Joe’s behaviour changed under the pressure from competition from the entrants

With rising competition from well-known suppliers, Joe was under pressure to answer Tang’s questions about how each area was adapting to these challenges. At first, he was only responding to what his rivals were doing, but soon, he became too demanding of his warehouse managers in terms of cost problem variance reporting, and he began cutting shortcuts with suppliers by pledging one thing but providing something else.

Joe has a problem seeing the big picture and is too busy with other pet projects rather than work

Joe launched a significant cost-cutting campaign throughout the regions by requesting a 20% decrease in operational expenses. The majority of warehouse expenses were tied to on-demand freight, although many of these prices were based on long-standing supply chain traditions with trusted suppliers, and hence were generally stable.

Joe lacked timely and important information

Joe kept a lot of information about rivals and progress in other areas for himself, mainly because he didn’t want his team to be diverted by what other locations were doing. Indirect reports, on the other hand, often felt ‘out of the loop’ when it came to crucial information that was released at the wrong moment. This resulted in WWD employees having to choose between operational concerns and other dynamic change issues.

Joe’s changed behaviour is harming supplier relations

Suppliers that had been with WWD for ten years or more had objected to the Asia Pacific Manager regarding changing allegiances as a result of Joe’s conduct. Consequently, in-country managers were faced with a moral quandary concerning customer relationship management (CRM) and ethical practices.

Theoretical Ideas and Actions Suggested for Joe and His Team

The issue of “less-than-perfect” information, along with the five abovementioned leadership assumptions demands widespread and effective recommendations for Joe and his team to follow in terms of the following:

Adaptive Leadership

When faced with adversity, adaptive leadership empowers people and organisations to adapt and grow. Under this leadership approach, Joe must diagnose, disrupt, and innovate to create capabilities that are aligned with the goals of the company (Uhl-Bien & Arena, 2018). Adaptive leaders pay attention to how their teams adapt and grow. Certain behaviours are clearly both transactional and transformative since they are founded on the leader-member exchange and affiliative. As a result, Joe’s job includes mobilising, organising, reorienting, and concentrating attention on others. The four main perspectives based on the study of Heifetz et al. (2009) argue that adaptation or adaptive processes originate from the following, which must be maintained by Joe and his team:

  • Systems perspectives are the issues and problems entrenched in interactive systems within the organisation. Using a systems perspective, this leadership style sees challenges as multifaceted and interrelated (Bailey et al., 2012). Our grasp of how to succeed as a leader is enhanced by using a systems approach. A systems viewpoint enables both leaders and followers to understand which strategy is most successful.
  • The sociological perspective is where individuals build and advance as a consequence of adaptation to both the internal as well as external settings. Adaptive leaders, from a sociological viewpoint, learn to manage their surroundings via experimentation (Wong & Chan, 2018). They nurture a wide range of perspectives to produce a wide range of possibilities. Leadership is based on empathy, and people are rewarded for their hard work by being given responsibility and the freedom to make decisions.
  • Service orientation indicates service to the people through the diagnosis of their issues and prescribing answers. The adaptable leader, like a specialist, utilises his or her knowledge or power to help the people by diagnosing their issues and recommending alternative remedies, according to Doyle (2017). Leadership helps individuals by assessing their issues and suggesting alternative solutions.
  • Psychotherapy perspectives refer to assisting the explanation of the way people achieve adaptive behaviour. Psychology suggests that adaptable leaders realise that people require a supportive atmosphere and adapt more effectively when they confront challenging challenges directly, learn how to discriminate between fiction and reality, settle internal conflicts and develop new attitudes and behaviours. To effectively adapt, as per Wong & Chan (2018), people must confront difficulties head-on, discern between imagination and reality, settle internal conflicts, and acquire new attitudes and behaviours.

Each of these four elements must be used by Joe to become an effective adaptive leader (Yukl et al., 2019). Because of this, adaptive leadership is regarded as a dynamic and complicated process. Adaptive leadership, as defined by the four perspectives, is neither a description of a person nor a particular action. It’s a description of the steps taken by a leader to bring about a healthy and beneficial transformation in a group. As Northouse (2021) continues, adaptive leaders confront difficulties in different situations. An adaptive challenge is a form of situational problem that necessitates a change in the way one thinks, perceives, feels, and believes.

As with affiliative leaders, leaders in this position will need to collaborate with their followers in the same manner. Distress may be managed by keeping in mind the concept of balance in a process of change, as per Hannah et al. (2009). People are more at ease with what they already know in an equilibrium state since decisions are based on familiarity. Distress arises when decisions must be made that are outside of recognised and normal procedures. Often, stress, such as competitive pressures on Joe from entrants such as Costco, causes individuals to behave in unusual ways, resulting in dispute, indecision, silence, or flight behaviours when people withdraw themselves from necessary answers. Leaders in this situation must assist people to realise the need for change and how it may be achieved using technical and adaptive change methods (Uhl-Bien & Arena, 2018). In addition, it is necessary to assist individuals to concentrate on the actual change, such as the cost-cutting drive in WWD, even if it is difficult.

Ethical Leadership and Ethical Identity/Morality

Leaders are expected to demonstrate ethical behaviour in both their professional and personal lives, including how they interact with one another (Brown, Trevino & Harrison, 2005). Ethics, according to Northouse (2021), is about the virtue of persons, their reasons, and how they connect to explicit or implicit ethical judgments. When it comes to the behaviour of leaders, some leaders can surprisingly choose to focus on the repercussions of their activities above the laws and regulations that regulate their actions. Utilitarianism clashes with ethical egoism when a person acts to maximise her or his well-being (Northouse, 2021). There are five ethical leadership principles suggested by the author that Joe, in collaboration with his team, should follow:

Ethical Leadership Principles

Fig 1: Ethical Leadership Principles

(Source: Northouse, 2021)

In the view of Kleyn et al. (2012), since WWD is a major corporation, its attention has turned away from ethical behaviour and toward how organisations manage and convey ethical acts. Stakeholder satisfaction and profitability have both risen as a result of fostering a favourable image of an organization’s ethical character. The issue of complaints from suppliers on Joe’s actions has pushed the in-country managers into facing a moral dilemma for effective CRM and ethically practising their jobs. As a result of their work, the authors have developed a model that helps practitioners recognise and prevent potentially damaging ethical corporate identity misalignments in their daily work. Authentic leadership, according to the author, is characterised by a desire for dynamic congruence rather than complete alignment among the six identities.

Corporate Identity Dimensions

Fig 2: Corporate Identity Dimensions

(Source: Kleyn et al., 2012)

Burns (2012) sees leadership as a way to motivate and inspire his people. He stated that it is the leader’s job to assist his or her subordinates to understand their ideas and needs so that they may rise to a level that emphasises values like liberty and equality, as supported by Ciulla (2014). Learning, according to Burns (2012), is all about values. The ethical leader sets an example of moral behaviour, such as honesty, social responsiveness, trustworthiness, fairness, care, and so on, that is more likely to be adopted by others. As a decent leader, Joe has a moral duty to share their expertise with others since they consider themselves a role model.

Culture Building

Leaders, at all levels of the organisation, especially team leaders or regional managers like Joe, must execute the company’s cultural procedures (Chatman, 2014). Leaders have a significant impact on fostering a pleasant work environment, no question. Leaders must never allow their teams to reach a state of equilibrium. When everything is said and done based on what organisational individuals have learned and the abilities of the personnel, they have a comfortable system. WWD’s staff and their culture would not be able to accept change and adapt if they remain in a closed system. It’s a safe place to be since everyone knows their place, but it’s not conducive to development and change inside the organisation, which are closely linked to the work of adaptive leaders (Northouse, 2021). The huge change due to the drive of reducing operational costs is a huge change for the organisation, and Joe must play the role of adaptive leader to infuse the development and change.

Diverse organisations (systems) with diverse national and occupational cultures are notoriously difficult to establish as functional organisations. There are many benefits to variety, but Joe has difficulty integrating and aligning cultural features. In light of the company’s emphasis on organisational growth, they must remember that such a shift requires a “whole system” perspective, as opined by Gallos (2006). A whole organisational transformation, such as a shift in the culture, incentive systems, or overall management approach, is part of an organization-development initiative. The “system” that has to be modified is a large, reasonably independent organisation, not just a subset of it. However, this does not apply to a comprehensive organisation or an entire government, but to a system that is generally free to plan its future given a few broad limits. Based on the opinion of Northouse (2021), every manager is coming to terms with the reality of managing a “culture” with its own set of values, norms, normative practices and hierarchical structures. When a company’s culture has to change to meet the requirements of its competitors or the environment, an organisation development programme is necessary.


The ultimate conclusion of the report is that leadership is a difficult idea to pin down with any certainty. Joe’s approach to leadership is in misalignment with the culture, ethical and moral aspects of leading people and managing all stakeholders. Leadership failures, like in the case of Joe in stakeholder management, may also arise when leaders fail to accurately identify issues. As a result, adaptive trials are more likely to evaluate common attitudes and behaviours than adaptive difficulties themselves. Joe must follow the four elements of adaptive leadership, as well as the principles and processes suggested to implicate the change within the organisation and proper stakeholder management.


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