Educational Philosophy

Institute Objectives for the Curriculum:

As a result of participating in the KWLI each participant will:

develop an increased openness to difference and change:

  • increase awareness of and involvement in civic leadership, and an understanding of how they can make a life-long commitment through engaging in the process of leadership

demonstrate and model goodwill

  • develop an appreciation for other disciplines and cultures, along with perspectives and interpretations in the context of team-based initiatives. These understandings establish a platform for future civic engagement and build an ethic of civic responsibility.

achieve growth and empowerment

  • be confident that they are equipped with the experience and tools for leading successful initiatives for community engagement and for making progress on issues about which they care most

develop a knowledge and skillset for engaging in the adaptive leadership process

  • develop the capacity to analyze civic challenges through an adaptive lens, and to distinguish between technical responses and adaptive solutions in order to explore the variety of ways an individual can help make progress on community and organizational challenges

Theoretical Approach to Leadership

The theoretical design for the institute draws on the concept of Adaptive Leadership.  The definition of Adaptive Leadership is: the practice of mobilizing people to tackle tough challenges and thrive (Heifetz, Grashow & Linsky, 2009). Because most of the important challenges that face our families, organizations, and communities today are systemic and grounded in values, beliefs, and interpretations, it is critical to examine these challenges with an adaptive lens. In other words, most of the challenges around which we feel the greatest passion and frustration, around which there is conflicting perceptions and visions, and which often remain unresolved are also those for which there are no established protocols, procedures, or manuals that offer us effective, long-term, and systemic solutions. However, too often stakeholders look to single authority figures for prescribed answers, only to find these answers are mere band-aids that inevitably are overcome by ongoing crises. Through the theoretical perspective of Adaptive Leadership we will examine related connections, systemic conditions, and elevate the stakeholders as we develop skillful innovations that promote progress.

In addition to what we call a “deep dive” into the study and understanding of Adaptive Leadership, the KWLI participants will learn a competency-based model of civic leadership. Based on their study of civic culture in Kansas, the Kansas Leadership Center developed four specific competencies needed to most effectively engage with and develop the civic community: Manage Self, Diagnose the Situation, Energize Others, and Skillfully Intervene. The KWLI incorporates these four competencies as a critical thinking skillset that connects directly with our focus on engaging the process of leadership.

Ultimately, however, to best understand and study the process of leadership, the KWLI starts with each participant and their engagement. What do we mean by “engagement?” Engagement assumes each participant will enmesh themselves with the knowledge-base made available through this experience, and also with a focus on advancing the adaptive challenges in their home communities on which they are eager to make progress.