According to Northouse, adaptive leadership is the result of acclimation to changing environments (Northouse, 2016). While this sounds effective, if not necessary, it can also often spiral out of control and take over in a negative way. Imagine, for example, a scenario where a manager becomes more concerned with fitting in and being liked by their subordinates and followers than they are with the flow and success of overall operations.
This type of behavior happens more than one would be willing to believe. It stems from the type of situation where a majority of the leadership challenges are adaptive and far from clear-cut or identifiable (Northouse, 2016). Adaptive leadership styles require the use of outside of the box thinking in order to adequately lead your followers toward the best solution, often times with “coaxing” of the mind by simply directing to open otherwise ignored solutions. Equally so, in a situation where a leader utilizes adaptive leadership a majority of the time, it can backfire and have ineffective and/or counterproductive results.
I work for a manager who, less than a year ago, came to our shift with a seemingly rash and opposite of “get on the balcony” type mindset; micromanaging was a necessity and it was his way or the highway (Northouse, 2016). Over the months, he has received quite a bit of pushback from his constituents in response to his leadership style, though it actually seemed to help improve his attitude and oversight over time. Nonetheless, unbeknownst to him, his leadership team was able to push him toward improving himself in ways he never thought possible, through adaptation and adjustment to participating in operations as a participant and observer in the community (Northouse, 2016).
Though this may sound far from ineffective or counterproductive, it has also brought him to the point where he would rather accommodate his leadership team and their requests than take serious action when necessary. It seems as though his need for growth in adaptation has taken control and therefore resulted in over adaptation. Often times, this newly attained mindset in which our leader is adapting to the point of complacency, there is little to no room for the general order as to which leader behavior comes first (Northouse, 2016).
Northouse, P. G. (2016). Leadership: Theory and practice (7thed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.