Leadership Competencies for Navigating Complex Conflicts

complexityToday’s leaders of organizations and communities are increasingly faced with greater complexity as they attempt to constructively influence these systems. This complexity can emerge as leaders attempt to ameliorate seemingly intractable or protracted conflicts in these systems, or as they attempt to change existing systems for the better only to find that they are faced with new conflicts and confusing, even paradoxical, outcomes. Principles from the field of complexity science have much to offer these leaders, but to date there are very little resources available for assessing leader skills and abilities in this area, or for developing these complexity competencies.

In partnership with the Morton Deutsch International Center for Cooperation and Conflict Resolution (MD-ICCCR), AC4 aims, through rigorous laboratory and applied research informed by principles from complexity science and dynamical systems theory, to investigate these leadership competencies, develop complementary assessment tools, and provide resources for complexity leadership development.

Component 1: Simulation assessment tool development

This component aims to develop a computer-based simulation tool for assessing individual decision-making patterns in individuals attempting to navigate complex conflict situations. With generous technical support from Impact Games Inc., and laboratory support from the MD-ICCCR, the project team has successfully completed an initial pilot study with intriguing results. The team is now in the process of designing a follow-up study to be conducted during Spring 2015, and is in the conceptual stages of designing a new simulation tool.

Component 2: Survey instruments

As a complement to Component 1, the objective of this component is to develop a survey instrument that measures specific complexity leadership competencies for constructively influencing conflict dynamics in complex systems. The measure is currently in development, drawing on existing published measures, where possible, related to individual complexity. Additionally, a measure of systems thinking is under development, which will serve to assess the extent to which an individual is able to identify the systemic influences on a complex social problem, and choose the appropriate response. The team aims to finalize this portion of the project during Fall 2014.

Component 3: Training and coaching tools for developing complexity competent leaders

This final ongoing component involves developing tools and teaching practices for using the above assessments as a part of a complexity leadership development program.



If you are interested in learning more about this project, please feel free to contact the program coordinator, Nick Redding.