What is this Adaptive Leadership I keep hearing about and how can it help my camp?

Some of you may have attended the “Deep Dive” workshop on adaptive leadership at our 2016 JCamp 180 conference. We were thrilled with the positive feedback.

Adaptive Leadership, which was developed at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government, is a framework to help individuals and organizations exercise leadership in times of uncertainty - when there are no clear answers to problems because there isn’t agreement on the nature of the problems to begin with. The adaptive theory proposes that there is no leadership position or role - Leadership is an activity that anyone can choose, with or without authority. So when you feel like you are tackling impossible challenges within your camp, resist the temptation to address these challenges with technical solutions that do not require new learning or system change and instead seek solutions that are adaptive — solutions that require new behaviors, attitudes and ways of working. 

The Jewish Agency’s Global Leadership Institute (GLI) just launched the Adaptive Leadership Lab which brings together young professionals from around the world to make progress on local and global Jewish challenges in an adaptive learning environment. Check out how they are training young leaders in adaptive leadership.

Written by Tara Acker. Tara is a Mentor with JCamp 180. Her focus areas at JCamp 180 include Jewish Camp Branding, Day Camps, financial literacy for Jewish Camps, and organizational development. 

Who we are: JCamp 180 is a program of the Harold Grinspoon Foundation (HGF). Our goal is to significantly enhance the long-term effectiveness of nonprofit Jewish camps in North America. To meet this goal, we provide affiliated Jewish camps with consulting services, annual conferences, shared resources, professional development, and matching grant opportunities. Find more at