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HKS alumni consult each other on their leadership dilemmas

First Adaptive Leadership Practitioner Day

25 HKS alumni followed the invitation of the HKS DC Alumni Council and the Adaptive Leadership Shared Interest Group to refresh concepts from Professor Ronald Heifetz’s notorious “Exercising Leadership” class and to help each other out on their current leadership dilemmas.

The group experienced an immediate sense of partnership and confidentiality from the very beginning, even though many members met for the first time. The participants ranged from alumni classes 1988 to 2015, the private and public sector, with both domestic and international focus, and all levels of seniority. Participants appreciated the peer consultations given that people had the “skill to actually consult me on my challenges”, as one person put it in the final reflection round.

Michael Koehler, co-founder of the Adaptive Leadership Network and Partner at KONU designed a highly interactive workshop day with four rounds of case consultations, similar to the small group consultations that were part of the course at the Kennedy School. The practioner day was facilitated by Michael, Ruma Samdani from the HKS alumni council, as well as former Adaptive Leadership Teaching Assistants Claire O’Connor and Sushma Sheth. One participant’s case study served as a refresher in the large group. Three more rounds of case studies took place in small groups of 6 over the course of the day.

The common threads of all our cases reminded me of how much HKS is a family to me,” reflected a participant. As different as the cases were, they shared similar threads of how difficult adaptive work and public leadership can be in the highly complex and political environment in DC. The group is planning to offer similar events in the future.

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