Written by: Johnathan S. Hill

Navigating the COVID-19 Pandemic, recent tragedies involving African-Americans and law enforcement and the word-wide response to both of these events has presented individuals, organizations, institutions, businesses, schools, and churches with an opportunity to explore and approach leadership in news ways. 

Over the past few months, leaders have found themselves attempting to lead in an ever-changing environment. The current events have adapted how we convene, communicate, and process our thoughts and actions. We have found technical solutions to convening and communicating (virtual meetings, increase communication via email and social media). However, what does it look like to lead adaptively in our current environment? Adaptive leadership is defined as mobilizing people to tackle tough challenges and thrive. How do we mobilize people during a season where we are being encouraged to be physically distant as a result of COVID-19, while having to address one of the most important issues in our nation and communities, institutional racism? 

Every element of an urban community plays a role in mobilizing people, culture, organizations, institutions, educational systems and individuals. Sustaining their existence while equipping them with the necessary resources to aid them in understanding how to be adaptive will be essential to their survival. Urban leaders must wrestle with the question, “Is my leadership about what I do or what I help others to do?” 

Anchor institutions in urban communities such as the family, school and church have had to rethink how they connect, operate, grow and have impact. As an urban leader, one must discover unrecognized connections, be comfortable with making progress in the dark, appreciate small beginnings, be comfortable and effective in unfamiliar terrain, engage in cross sector coalition building, and ultimately motivate others to truly own the work. 

Adaptive leadership implies that we cannot simply provide technical solutions to the problem. Adaptive leaders mobilize people and provide innovative approaches so urban communities can flourish.  

Connect with Johnathan: jshill1@outlook.com

This article was written as part of a series written by alumni of the Urban Leadership Development Initiative and featured in their online community, BR Leads. Each author seeks to address an element of an urban environment and how adaptive leaders can thrive in the current climate. The views expressed here do not necessarily reflect the views of MetroMorphosis or its strategies.

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