“We need very fluid leadership - people who can share power”: Climate change adaptation leadership lessons from the Atlantic Region of Canada
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Evidence-based insights on leadership practice are needed to support climate change adaptation. Climate change adaptation leadership is systematically investigated in Canada using a regional case study approach involving seven nested case examples. Informant interviews, documentary analysis, participant observation, and site visits in the Atlantic Region of Canada are used to examine specific leadership interventions across a continuum of styles and approaches. These leadership interventions are examined through the lens of complexity leadership theory (CLT), transdisciplinary collaborative leadership and innovation typing, and in view of their implications for climate change adaptation practice. Research findings show that climate change adaptation leadership is a fluid process, operating over a continuum of leadership styles and functions, which embraces context complexity. Four particular leadership styles are identified. These include shared, distributed (instigators), distributed/supportive (mobilizers), and supportive (extension agents). Key features of successful adaptation leadership and practice include: the development and use of contextual intelligence, the creation of dual or co-leadership alliances, an expanded understanding of the role of champions, and the more explicit structuring of collaborative innovation networks. In addition, leadership challenges can be addressed through focusing early on in identifying and addressing barriers to adaptation. Findings from the Atlantic Region of Canada are used to develop an initial inventory of technical and behavioural leadership competencies. These competencies include collaboration. power sharing, bridging science for results, and project management. Finally, the thesis develops an archetype climate change adaptation leader as one who acts individually, or as part of broader work teams, organizations or innovation networks to effect change. As a leader, they obtain varied multi-level governance experience, understand that to enhance collaboration it is important to understand the interrelationship of leadership, followership and context, and that their role might shift over time in dealing with adaptation challenges. An archetype leader understands the process of innovation and can apply various types of innovation to craft integrated adaptation solutions. In addition, an archetype climate change adaptation leader views professional development as an apprenticeship, and embrace the roles of both mentor and protégé. A number of questions for further study include: how can the literature on the role of women and leadership be used to inform climate change adaptation; what factors influence the complexity of interactions between bureaucratic levels within organizations to either enhance or reduce bureaucratic fault lines; how intergenerational tension in different climate change adaptation leadership contexts can be understood and addressed; do situations involving the destruction of climate change adaptation leadership create structural limits for adaptation; how can the concept of contextual intelligence be more fully articulated as a climate change adaptation leadership competency; and can specific cases of climate change adaptation leadership in collaborative innovation networks be examined to further develop best practices? Two additional questions for further study relate to professional development within climate change adaptation leadership: how can succession planning and mentoring be best integrated into practice to create the archetype as developed in this thesis; and what is the potential role for a climate change adaptation leadership apprenticeship model?
Cite this work
Bradley May (2017). “We need very fluid leadership - people who can share power”: Climate change adaptation leadership lessons from the Atlantic Region of Canada. UWSpace. http://hdl.handle.net/10012/12668