SOMA Integral Consulting

Site in development. Thank you for your patience.

Regenerative Development Services for Businesses, Nonprofits, and Government Agencies


Adaptive Leadership in Complex Multi-Stakeholder Environments


Presented by Beatrice C. Ungard, Ph.D.



“To succeed in conservation, you need to be able to work effectively and persuasively with all kinds of people. This course is a must!”
~ Ruth Norris, Executive Coach and Kinship Conservation Fellows Faculty ~

Take this course ONLINE from the comfort of your office without sacrificing the quality of interactions with your peers and the faculty!

Ready to sign up? Contact Beatrice Ungard:


What is Adaptive Leadership?

“[Adaptive] leadership is what individuals do in mobilizing other people, in organizations or communities, to do what I call “adaptive work.” Adaptive work can mean clarifying a conflict in values, or bridging the gap between the values that we stand for and the current conditions under which we operate. When you have a problem or a challenge for which there is no technical remedy, a problem for which it won’t help to look to an authority for answers – the answers aren’t there – that problem calls for adaptive work.”  

~ Ronald Heifetz

Adaptive leadership is required when leading a change process in multi-stakeholder environments. This mode of leadership is built on authenticity and transparent communication. It is grounded in the belief that excellence is within each individual and that ways to address our most complex challenges do exist—our collaborative task is to find them. Consequently, adaptive leadership begins with choosing to challenge the status quo in order to move the system away from its comfort zone; courageously asking the questions no one else is willing to ask; and committing to finding the ‘truth’ about what is really going on in the system.

The Capacities of an Adaptive Leader

As an agent of change, the adaptive leader navigates the turbulent waters of value-based and politically-charged challenges. The journey is rewarding, and entails overcoming moments of frustration and even turning disappointing results into opportunities. Our guarantee is that you will make a positive change on your entire organizational ecosystem, and accept that successful resolution is not a given but the essence of adaptive work!

As an adaptive leader you will:

  • Know how to diagnose an organizational system and uncover the structural dynamics that constrain it.
  • Understand your role and your contribution to the system within which you operate.
  • Know how to expand your informal authority.
  • Possess the tools required to influence your system structure and design processes that effectively support your adaptive journey.
  • Have the required skills to lead your system toward perceiving reality with new ‘eyes,’ thereby reframing your challenge in a way that generates a ‘field for emergent possibilities’.
  • Stand strong amidst ambiguity and uncertainty.
  • Apply your creativity and work from a deeper source of knowledge and insight.

Course Structure and Schedule

This course builds on the seminal work of Ronald Heifetz and his colleagues and complements it with additional materials from diverse sources, including my own work and research on leading transformative work in complex environments. It is designed to be very ‘hands-on’ and balances theories presentations with individual and group activities that are built to support the work of the participants on their adaptive challenges. To maximise the level of interaction among participants, the number of participants for this course is limited at 18.

A prerequisite for the course is for participants to have an adaptive challenge on which to practice the diverse tools and frameworks learned in the sessions.

Recommended Textbook (to be purchased by participants – non mandatory): The Practice of Adaptive Leadership by R. Heifetz, M. Linsky, and A. Grashow

Some sections of the book plus diverse case studies will be recommended for each session and made available before each session.

The course includes 8 sessions of 2-hour each delivered online via the interactive Zoom platform over a period of 4 weeks. There is an additional one-hour meet-up session on the Friday before the course begins.

Course Dates: TBD – Based on registration.

Meet-up: Course Introduction

  • Participant Introductions
  • Overview of the course
  • Review of Zoom technology

Session 1A: The Work of Adaptive Leadership

  • Contrast technical problems vs. adaptive challenges
  • Distinguish leadership vs. authority

Session 1B: The Art of Reframing

  • Exploring an adaptive challenge through the power of inquiry

Session 2A: Leading Transformative Change

  • Understand the transformative process pattern
  • Diagnose a project

 Session 2B: Intervention Design: Creating the Space for Adaptive Work

  • Designing an intervention using a systemic framework

Session 3A: Addressing Resistances, Conflicts, Fears, and Losses

  • Understand individual and team dynamics
  • Engage in difficult conversations
  • Address ‘difficult’ behaviors

Session 3B: See Yourself as a System

  • Exploring your motivation, state of being, and behavior
  • Personal Identity Map

Session 4A: The Political Leader

  • Think and act politically
  • Expand informal authority
  • Improve self-management

Session 4B: And Now, What? Thrive

  • Creating a path forward
  • Final Group Reflection and Dialogue

What People Say About the Course

I have had the pleasure to teach this course for four years within the context of the Kinship Conservation Fellows Program. About 90 Kinship Fellows have taken this course and provided great feedback.

beatrice_classroom_andreaThe adaptive leadership course has revolutionized the way I approach difficult conversations, challenges at work, conflict and even day-to-day management. Beatrice is a great trainer, and the regular exercises interspersed between the lectures were perfect to help practice and reinforce the new approaches. The course was also a lot of fun, and really helped all the participants bond as a group.”  ~ Jennifer Chapman, Country Coordinator (Belize), Blue Ventures, London, England

“I … found the Adaptive Leadership course by Beatrice Benne extremely relevant to my work. Sustainable community forest management in the tropics typically involves numerous diverse stakeholders attempting to implement projects under conditions of complexity and uncertainty. I had already identified an adaptive approach as highly important, but Beatrice’s course provided me with the tools and frameworks necessary to actually lead these processes.”   ~ Wain Collen, Founder & Executive Director, PlanJunto, Quito, Ecuador

 Ready to sign up? Contact Beatrice Ungard: