Principal - May/June 2021 - 34

APs Rising

" A " Is for
Adaptive
Ready for anything, the assistant principal is continuously learning and managing change
By Ian P. Murphy

T

echnical and adaptive leadership
skills both have a strong influence on
student achievement, research says.
But while technical leadership skills
focus on straightforward problem-solving
within existing structures, adaptive leadership
is more open-ended. It concentrates on change
management, demanding flexibility, reactive
capabilities, and a willingness to learn.
A term originally coined by Ronald A. Heifetz and
Marty Linsky, adaptive challenges are interpersonal
and don't have a defined quick fix. Instead, they
require people and systems to embrace solutions
that take into account any number of variables
students, parents, teachers, and leaders bring to
the table. Solving such challenges usually requires
stakeholders to adjust their values, beliefs, habits,
ways of working, and/or ways of life.
" Leaders go through different kinds of changes, "
says Jacquelyn Wilson, director of the Delaware
Academy for School Leadership at the University
of Delaware. " Technical change means I already
have the knowledge; I don't have to go out and
gain a new skill set. Adaptive change is more of a
paradigm shift in that [leaders] have to adapt to
a new situation, and that requires them to learn
new skills. The assistant principal is constantly

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M A Y / J U N E 2 0 2 1 * N A E S P. O R G


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