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(July 13)

When faced with a crisis, most leaders are forced to think and behave in ways that feel unfamiliar. Whether it’s a technological, financial, natural, or health crisis — at work or in the community — crises demand that leaders take an emergency response plan and adapt it as new evidence and factors present themselves. 

All the while, effective leaders are able to remain calm and maintain a sense of perspective. Especially as organizational leaders face the current coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and associated disruptions in the global economy, Heifetz will touch on what to do to prepare and respond, in light of his latest research.

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Ronald Heifetz is among the world’s foremost authorities n the practice and teaching of leadership. He speaks extensively and advises heads of governments, businesses, and nonprofit organizations across the globe. In 2016, President Juan Manuel Santos of Colombia highlighted Heifetz’s advice in his Nobel Peace Prize Lecture. Heifetz founded the Center for Public Leadership at Harvard Kennedy School where he has taught for nearly four decades. He is the King Hussein bin Talal Senior Lecturer in Public Leadership. Heifetz played a pioneering role in establishing leadership as an area of study and education in the United States and at Harvard. His research addresses two challenges: developing a conceptual foundation for the analysis and practice of leadership; and developing transformative methods for leadership education, training, and consultation.


Heifetz co-developed the adaptive leadership framework with Riley Sinder and Marty Linsky to provide a basis for leadership research and practice. His first book, Leadership Without Easy Answers (1994), is a classic in the field and one of the ten most assigned course books at Harvard and Duke Universities.  Heifetz co-authored the best-selling Leadership on the Line: Staying Alive through the Dangers of Change with Marty Linsky, which serves as one of the primary go-to books for practitioners across sectors (2002, revised 2017).  He then co-authored the field book, The Practice of Adaptive Leadership: Tools and Tactics for Changing your Organization and the World with Alexander Grashow and Marty Linsky (2009).




(JULY 14)

What exactly are we referring to when we talk about resilience, mindfulness, change, and trusted leadership in organizational theory? What role do organizational environments and organizational information processing play for safety, efficiency, and sustainability? 

In what ways does and does not “Managing the Unexpected” tie in with trajectories of social theory? We seek to explore these and further related questions through engaging with the work of Kathleen Sutcliffe. Sutcliffe makes an instructive contribution to organizational theory by developing a socially embedded model of organizational learning that includes affective foundations and various aspects of an actively lived culture as important factors of continuous performance and success. Therefore, she discusses the ways and modes of enabling, enacting, and elaborating a culture of mindfulness, resilience and safety. In her research she developed a concept of organizing as an integrative framework that is focused around key themes of both crisis and resilience, including capabilities for durability, organizing and adjusting, responding to major disturbances, and a feedback loop from these experiences. 

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Kathleen M. Sutcliffe is a Bloomberg Distinguished Professor with appointments in the Carey Business School, the School of Medicine (Anesthesia and Critical Care Medicine), the School of Nursing, the Bloomberg School of Public Health, and the Armstrong Institute for Patient Safety and Quality. Her research program has been devoted to investigating how organizations and their members cope with uncertainty and how organizations can be designed to be more reliable and resilient. She has investigated organizational safety, high reliability, and resilience practices in oil and gas exploration and production, chemical processing, steel production, wildland firefighting, and in healthcare.


Her research has appeared widely in management and healthcare journals and she has co-authored seven books. She has presented her work across the world. She serves on the editorial boards of several journals and has served as a proposal reviewer for the National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine. She has consulted with the leadership teams of numerous companies including Goldman Sachs, Georgia Pacific, Marathon Oil, and ThyssenKrupp.