What We Do

How we do it: Adaptive Leadership and Challenges

Where other law enforcement courses often focus on technical aspects such how to conduct or physically investigate wildlife crime, the ICCA focuses on building relationships to solve adaptive challenges.

First, attendees learn adaptive leadership and systems thinking and then apply these new skills as the following core topics are presented:

Distinguishing Technical Problems from Adaptive Challenges

  • Distinguishing Technical Problems from Adaptive Challenges
  • Leadership vs. Authority
  • Diagnosis and Action – The Work of Leadership
  • Identifying and Working Across Factions

The courses are strategically taught with each class building upon the preceding ones. The goal is to develop a unique leadership ability and provide attendees with new skills to make them successful in their home countries by solving adaptive challenges within their personal scope of work and building new alliances with local, transnational, and global law enforcement officers.

At the ICCA, course participants use these new skills when working in small groups to solve real life challenges. In fact, each student is asked to bring a work-related adaptive challenge with them to the academy and together the attendees and coaches discuss ways to overcome the challenge by applying the principles of adaptive leadership.

Adaptive challenges involve problems that do not have technical solutions.  They deal with changing people’s minds and hearts; therefore, they involve finding ways to build collaboration by bringing together diverse groups of people who have different perspectives and often competing values or interests.

As the course goes on, the participants gradually expand on implementation of what they have learned as they apply them to the challenges they are facing in their work. This sharing and collaboration occurs within small groups, working with others from their own countries and with groups made up of participants from other countries too. They will then take what they have learned during the ICCA and back to their agencies and utilize it as they continue to take on challenges in their own countries and in collaborating with other agencies and countries as well.

Examples of adaptive challenges brought to the ICCA include, “How do wildlife officials find common ground and solutions with people whose farms or safety are negatively impacted by wildlife encounters” or “How do wildlife officials interact with people who kill wildlife to feed their families or use wildlife parts in their customs or traditions.” 

Adaptive challenges also include finding ways to work together with partners who may have different missions or who are responsible for actions in different geographic areas or jurisdictions. These are the types of complex problems that are solved by using adaptive leadership skills.