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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


5.0 rating, based on 7 Class Central reviews

Start your review of Exercising Leadership: Foundational Principles

  • Trish Monaco
    Having been a Marketing leader for many years, this course still taught me new things about leadership, such as how to analyze different types of challenges (technical vs. adaptive) and the value of a "stakeholder map" in determining the extent of collaboration needed for an issue. It also provided solid strategies to address issues and had participants complete exercises that allowed you to analyze your own personal scenarios. The balance of instruction vs. personal reflection was very effective.
  • Anonymous
    Simply Fantastic. The instructor is great, I like how he conducts the course and delivers the message. The content itself is great, very helpful and educational. However, the best part of it is the delivery of the content by the instructor and how the self reflections get you to a place in which you gain clarity about your leadership approach and how you can address different situations.
  • Anonymous
    I am a athlete from 2005 doing marathon, I specialise with long distance 10km to 90km's. I'm doing marathon throw for my heart so now I have NPO Non profit Organisation for the youth and open category to improve my community throw sports teams, to a…
  • Daniel Paterson
    Many interesting concepts and new leadership tools to be found Most intriguing to me where the everyday practical tools you come away with from this course. I found myself reinvigorated to go back and attack the challenges that lead me to look for self improvement in this course. Highly recommended
  • Anonymous
    Very helpful in terms of contents and format. Easy to learn and good if you have already experienced part of it cause it ask you to reflect about yourself. Fully recomended.
  • Anonymous
    Excellent professor, very useful material and well designed curriculum. This course introduced truly foundational concepts and shifted my perspective on leadership.
  • Anonymous
    This is an extremely valuable course and I am grateful to have found it to progress my leadership qualities both personally and professionally.

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