Zaccaro Discusses the Change "Adaptability" Environment

Posted on March 10, 2008. Filed under: HCI Summit, Speakers |


Our first talent management session featured GMU Professor of Psychology Stephen Zaccaro and George Mason’s Zack Horn talking about “Concepts and Strategies for Growing and Adaptability Skills in Rising Executives.” Zaccaro kicked the session off.

Now adaptability is absolutely necessary. Why is it more important now?

  • Quicker pace of change
  • Higher information load
  • Globalization
  • Complexity of changing environment
  • Quicker skill and knowledge obselescence

Adabtability research indicates leadership behaviors, skills, competencies, and training are necessary and effective. We don’t adapt well for training in the current environment. Self development becomes increasingly important for adaptability.

Environments are changing so quickly that you have to move with the environment. These are qualitative changes in performance strategies. Adaptability requires a functional realignment. Leadership is a function of resolving social problems.

Self regulation requires goal setting, effective strategy, monitoring, adjustments and feedback. This process is a fundamental approach to leadership. It’s a foundational skill. Additionally, metacognition is needed. Evaluation post mortem.

Frame changing is a core adaptation skill. Three aspects of frame changing is 1) acknowledging the singular frame and breaking it, 2) Switch frames to another way of thinking and 3) integrating new frames into leadership. Adaptive expertise is the ability to use comprehensive, yet flexible knowledge systems to novel and ill defined systems.

Training Leaders

Most leaders do not have the foundational skills to lead in this new environment. So we have to give them adaptability training.

Experiential training needs to occur in diverse learning environments. By getting the executive into diverse functions, situations they can better perform in simulated environments. Different frames of reference needs to be added to the mix.

Developmental assignments that stretch people, challenge them. Failure is essential for success. By failing, and making them get up and do it well. Doing it well the first time indicates that the test was not developmental. You are supposed to go beyond the capabilities, to challenge the current frames. Show them the next level.

Types of developmental assignments:

  • Job transitions
  • Change creation
  • Higher responsibility
  • Managing boundaries
  • Dealing with diversity

Information is based off of 230 manager and executive research.


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[…] on March 10, 2008. Hey – It’s Amanda from HCI. I’m here live-blogging with Geoff. After Geoff left, Zaccaro went over two studies. Here’s the […]

[…] on March 11, 2008. GMU Professor of Psychology Stephen Zaccaro (see part I and II of his speech yesterday) and Zack Horn, MA dropped by for some more discussion of their […]

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