Adaptive leadership: fighting complexity with complexity

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Authors
Smith, Peter
Subjects
Contemporary Crises
Leadership
Alternative Strategies
Complexity
Complexity Science
Adaptive Leadership
Strategy Paradox
Distributed Leadership
Parallel Processing
Advisors
Bellavita, Christopher
Date of Issue
2014-06
Date
Jun-14
Publisher
Monterey, California: Naval Postgraduate School
Language
Abstract
Contemporary crises have become increasingly complex and the methods of leading through them have failed to keep pace. If it is assumed that leadership matters—that it has a legitimate effect on the outcome of a crisis, then leaders have a duty to respond to that adaptation with modifications of their own. Using literature sources, the research explores crisis complexity, crisis leadership, and alternative leadership strategies. Specifically, the research evaluates the applicability of complexity science to current crises. Having identified the manner in which crises have changed, it focuses on the gap between contemporary crises and the current methods of crisis leadership. The paper pursues adaptive methods of leading in complex crises and examines a number of alternative strategies for addressing the gap. The research suggests that a combination of recognizing the complexity of contemporary crises, applying resourceful solutions, and continually reflecting on opportunities to innovate, may be an effective way to lead through complex crises using complex leadership.
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Thesis
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Department
National Security Affairs
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