complex adaptive leadership

In their 2010 CEO survey ‘Capitalizing on Complexity’ link IBM notes that ‘Today’s complexity is only expected to rise and more than half of CEOs doubt their ability to manage it. Seventy-nine percent of CEOs anticipate even greater complexity ahead.’

As uncertainty increases so practitioners & researchers are looking more closely to the science of complexity to understand how systems adapt & what forms of leadership best support them.

Leadership can be highly stressful as the IBM survey suggests. Yet ironically, as complexity increases so ‘simplicity’ is becoming the touch-word for leaders. The exciting news is that following these principles has yielded spectacular results.

We support & draw particular inspiration from the ideas behind Complex Adaptive Leadership link. The CAL network is a deep resource that brings together knowledge from the science & practice of complex adaptive systems into a toolkit of ideas and approaches.

Complex Adaptive Leadership is for…

…leaders, teams & organisations that:

  • face complexity & uncertainty.
  • need to adapt, often quickly.
  • need to release innovation.
  • must engage, influence & gain the commitment of stakeholders.

It answers the call of those who are dissatisfied with traditional & over-simplified methods.

Complex Adaptive Leadership is….

…a fresh way of looking at leadership based on sound practical & scientific principles.

Unlike many of the alternatives it offers:

  • a way of thinking that helps leaders embrace & work with the forces that govern complex situations.
  • simple, practical ideas to increase leadership performance & reduce stress.
  • a way to free-up innovation & adaptiveness.

Complex Adaptive Leadership…

  • has been shown to generate impressive increases in productivity.
  • suggests mind-sets & approaches that support leaders in complex adaptive systems.
  • provides a clear agenda for improving the performance of executive teams & their leaders.
  • acts as the basis for cultural change.
  • underpins change programmes.
  • can be delivered through executive education, change facilitation, team & individual coaching.

who is exploring these ideas?

Already linked to the management of complex international projects, Complex Adaptive Leadership principles are being used & investigated by financial institutions & large manufacturers alike.


Nick Obolensky has researched, further defined & published ideas on Complex Adaptive Leadership; you will find book reviews here:

“….a startingly good read for a business manager keen to develop a practical understanding of different strategies with which to engage subordinates.” Integral Leadership Review, January 2012 link

“…an excellent conceptual framework that permits a comprehensive analysis of every aspect of leadership.” First Trust Bank Economic Outlook and Business Review, December 2010. link

discount book voucher

If you would like to buy the book you can download information – & discount voucher – here:

Complex Adaptive Leadership book voucher.