Activity 3. Reflection: Leading Change Within A Complex System

Retrieved from

In LRNT 525, our cohort was exposed to the contemporary leadership theories and how to lead change within a complex system. It was interesting to read the blogs from fellow cohorts and to learn from their own experiences and perspectives of how they lead change. I also realized that we share the same values as leaders – practicing reflective and adaptive leadership. The COVID-19 pandemic underscores the importance of reflective and adaptive leadership in dealing and managing the catastrophic impact of the pandemic globally and locally. Khan (2017) argued that practicing adaptive leadership is more effective in dealing with complex issues, and Castelli (2016) postulated the importance of reflection, such as mindfulness, awareness, and empathy in dealing with the fast-paced and dynamic environment of the 21st century. We are experiencing the impact of the rapidly changing situations of the virus pandemic and how we have to adapt to deal and manage the crisis. At my work, there was an impetus to convert our remaining face-to-face classes to virtual training. We all recognized the importance of this change; however, anxiety and the stress of trying to re-design the courses, learn them, and master a variety of tools in a short time to facilitate classes virtually were causing tension in our team. Our team agreed that virtual training is necessary to promote social distancing, and I would think the team is motivated to implement this change, so where is the tension coming? According to Weiner (2009), although staff may agree that this is a solution and is ready to implement the change – because they have to, the perception of their ability to implement could be a factor for the tension we are experiencing. The evolving pandemic issue makes time as our adversary- time to ramp-up and re-design courses have become a luxury.  My team is not alone in this struggle; the organization is challenged by the evolving issues of managing the demands in the hospital and the capacity of the staff to handle them. In my recipe for leading change (Ambata-Villanueva, 2020), I outlined the steps to prepare the organization when implementing a change (see figure 1).

Figure 1. Prep time for leading change

Our CEO and the senior leadership team have been exceptional in employing the prep time I listed in my recipe. They are connecting daily with the entire staff virtually and synchronously to update, engage, listen, and answer questions- most are tough questions about safety, precautions, sick days, resource allocations, and others. At a unit level, how do I employ my recipe for leading change, especially in dealing with, as Ritter described, “wicked problem” (as cited in Ben Mahmoud-Jouini, Midler, & Silberzahn, 2016, p. 148).  We have daily huddles using an online collaboration tool to practice social distancing. In line with the organization’s communication practices, I ensure that I am providing daily updates, asking questions, listening, empathizing, and solutioning with my team. It seems that we are going to face this wicked problem for a while, and open communication and transparency are vital to helping ease the anxiety, feeling of helplessness, and frustration that all of us are trying to manage.

As my last blog post for this course, I cannot stop pondering the timing of this course. Practicing adaptive and reflective leadership helps me to deal with the rapidly evolving issues that we are all facing in the pandemic crisis.  The need to think outside of the box, collaborate with others to come up with innovative solutions, and exercise thoughtful considerations of using digital technologies to assist with decision-making is critical to handle the complex and wicked problems of the 21st century.


Ambata-Villanueva, S. (2020, February 23). Assignment 1: Change Leadership- A Recipe for Leading Change [Blog post]. Retrieved from

Ben Mahmoud-Jouini, S., Midler, C. & Silberzhan, P. (2016). Contributions of Design Thinking to Project Management in an Innovation Context. Project Management Journal, 47(2), 144-156. Retrieved from Royal Roads University library database

Castelli, P. A. (2016). Reflective leadership review: A framework for improving organisational performance. The Journal of Management Development, 35(2), 217-236. doi:

Khan, N. (2017). Adaptive or Transactional Leadership in Current Higher Education: A Brief Comparison. International Review of Research in Open and Distributed Learning, 18 (3), 178-183. Retrieved from Royal Roads University Moodle database.

Weiner, B. (2009). A theory of organizational readiness for change. Implementation Science, 4(67). Retrieved from


4 thoughts on “Activity 3. Reflection: Leading Change Within A Complex System

  1. Hi Sharon,
    As I sit here reflecting on our assignment and our final blog post I have to agree with you in that we all share very similar views when it comes to reflective and adaptive leadership. Your post is lovely and taking COVID into consideration, while relating it back to our learning material is brilliant. While it seems like the world is going crazy, it was nice to read your post and view your perspective. I really enjoyed your figure displaying prep time for leading change. It is wonderful and refreshing to hear that your leaders are taking these steps into consideration and communicating with their staff – this can only make for a great team who not only feels supported but motivated. Your last paragraph is interesting indeed… what a strange time for this course, almost like it was meant to be.
    – Kerry

    1. Thank you, Kerry, for your thoughtful post and I hope you and your family are staying healthy and safe. I find that the pandemic crisis is really testing our leadership values. I find it challenging to manage the ambiguity and the complexity of our new normal and practicing reflection after a day’s hard work does help me find the courage and balance to keep going. I think as we continue our fight with this crisis, it is more crucial to lead and role-model the values of reflective and adaptive leadership. Thank you.

  2. Hi Sharon, great post on reflection of our course. I really enjoyed your take on leadership, digital leadership and most importantly the collaborative component of this journey. Mentioning that we are all traversing a highly complex environment would be an understatement. In essence, owning digital skills does not instinctively translate into being an efficient leader of change in a digital world. Structured transformation is more about changing people, organisation and culture than it is about technology. Digital is just the facilitator of change. The ability to develop a digital vision and strategy fully aligned with and supportive of agreed business goals and objectives are the starting point to a successful road-map, Also, including measurable KPIs and targets are the required leadership traits that are not only desirable, but a must-have in our highly complex circumstances.

    1. Hi Tehreem, I agree that there is more to leadership than having great digital skills. I do think that digital is more of a tool to help us facilitate change but it is the people that are the facilitators of change. One of the comments from our senior leader that resonated with me when we were planning on embarking on a clinical transformation journey is that ” the initiative is not about the technology, but the staff and clinicians that will lead the change”. It is always about the people and the technology is there to support the people. Thank you for sharing your thoughts.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.