Leadership Toolbox 4: Activating the Adaptive Space

Allan Cheng
3 min readOct 2, 2020

Leadership Behaviors for the Adaptive Space

Many organizations understand the need to be adaptable, especially with the recent encounter of a pandemic. The VUCA world can only be more VUCA moving forward. Lots of leaders lack the framework and/or culture to be adaptable. An adaptive leader must embrace these behaviors consequently.

  • The leader provides people from all levels with the opportunity to scan the environment, ideate, prototype and present their ideas or solutions.
  • The leader provides a safe environment for people to fail.

Activating the Adaptive Space

Sharing a short video, from Brad Drogosh, on some key elements of the Adaptive Space.

Subsequently, learning from Arena (2018) on his concept of Adaptive Space, I’ve concisely adopted the concept in the table below.

In this table, the different roles (vertical axis) to operationalize the adaptive space are identified and confronted against the adaptive space processes (horizontal axis) to give us the options we can take depending on which role we are playing and at which stage of the process we are in. In the last row, some possible engagements are suggested to expand the potentials in the space.

One may then choose to assume a single role or multiple roles in the adaptive space. It is then important to note that the co-existence of all the roles is required to ensure the adaptive space is fully operational.

Trust and Respect for Change (and Failures)

While the leader “get on the balcony” to scan the environment and identifying the adaptive challenges, he/she works on two important aspects subsequently, that is, Trust and Respect. Adapted from the…