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Harvard University

Exercising Leadership: Foundational Principles

Harvard University via edX


The crises of our time generate enormous adaptive challenges for our families, organizations, communities, and societies. The need for leadership that can mobilize people to meet these challenges and improve life is critical.

In this introductory course, you will explore strategies for leading in a changing world where adaptive pressures will continue to challenge all of us. You will discover new ways to approach complex organizational systems and take thoughtful action on the work we all face ahead. Most importantly, you will reflect on how to move forward on the leadership challenges you care about most.


  • Introduction: Get on the Balcony
  • 1 Identify the Work to Be Done
  • 2 Lead With, Beyond, and Without Authority
  • 3.1 Take Action: Think Politically
  • 3.2 Take Action: Build Trust
  • 3.3 Take Action: Orchestrate Conflict
  • 4 Anchor Yourself
  • Conclusion: Staying Alive

Taught by

Ronald Heifetz


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