The best leaders have a framework for stepping confidently into the unknown and bringing their teams with them. This includes creating an AI-powered organization, a challenge that has many up at bat. In this episode of the WorkLab podcast, Dr. Britt Aylor, Director of Leadership Development at Microsoft, shares everything you need to know about the adaptive leadership framework—what it is, why it matters, how to think like an adaptive leader, and why people at all levels across an organization can benefit from becoming one. Before joining Microsoft to lead the charge in scaling adaptive leadership across the company, Dr. Aylor was the director of leadership and organizational development at the Broad Institute, a research center backed by MIT and Harvard. She has also worked closely with Professor Ronald Heifetz at Harvard, who helped develop the framework.

Three big takeaways from the conversation:

  1. Integrating AI into your organization is an adaptive challenge in and of itself—there’s no one-size-fits-all approach. However, doing the work will pay off. Dr. Aylor believes that in the near future, AI will be able to tackle the challenges that have clear solutions, freeing people up to focus on what is uniquely human, which is figuring out the ones that don’t.

  2. Adaptive leaders are “learn-it-alls” not “know-it-alls.” Before making big decisions, they plug into their teams for feedback and are intentional about collaborating with others. “We need the collective intelligence of everybody to come together,” Dr. Aylor says. “We have no chances of solving the adaptive challenges we’re facing nowadays if we rely on the genius brain of one.”

  3. Part of what makes innovation possible is smart experimentation, Dr. Aylor says. And part of experimentation is failure. Leaders should anticipate, and be okay with, a certain amount of failure, and explicitly communicate that to their teams. Doing so creates psychological safety, which is fundamental to healthy and productive teams. 

WorkLab is a place for experts to share their insights and opinions. As students of the future of work, Microsoft values inputs from a diverse set of voices. That said, the opinions and findings of the experts we interview are their own and do not reflect Microsoft’s own research or opinions.

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Here’s a transcript of the conversation.

MOLLY WOOD: This is WorkLab, the podcast from Microsoft. I’m your host, Molly Wood. On WorkLab we hear from experts about the future of work, from how to use AI effectively to what it takes to thrive in our new world of work. 

BRITT AYLOR: We have no chances of solving the adaptive challenges we’re facing nowadays if we rely on even just the genius brain of one. That equation worked in the past at times, and in the future I think it is all about plugging into each other’s collective intelligence.