Ronald Heifetz, physician and cellist, took a page from the history of medical care and created a leadership paradigm.  I will take it a step further and demonstrate a selling paradigm – Adaptive Selling.
Getting right to the point, physicians, many years ago, did not have the technology they have today to treat patients in innovative ways.  They had to think about prescriptions that were more than a few pills.  Prescriptions were truly solutions to solve patient illnesses.
Today, when you go to your doctor and tell them what ails you, they have a pill for that ailment within seconds.  For instance, if you have high cholesterol, some statins help reduce cholesterol, and you are on your merry way.  The KPI here is the cholesterol level reported by your blood test, and the pill helps reduce that number.  The other side effect is that most patients feel as they are protected from further injury and stop by their nearby fried chicken establishment for a bucket to take home.
Doctors did not have the luxury of prescribing statins in the past as they were not invented yet (around 1976, believe it or not).  They had to prescribe a lifestyle change by prescribing certain foods and exercises, an adaptive method, to reduce your overall cholesterol numbers.  Same number, but different route to get there.
Now, which way do you think is the better prescription to take?  They both get you to lower cholesterol numbers.  Yea, me too.  This is challenging for me—the convenience of a pill versus the discipline of a changed lifestyle.  Our world is rooted in self-help and self-advocacy, even in areas that are not possible.  This will be a blog post forthcoming on how we miss the opportunity to help each other, especially when there is no other effective way of getting results.
Dr. Heifetz felt that leadership was undergoing the same level of ‘dumbification’ (don’t worry, it’s s technical term).  Were we leading from a pill or taking a more adaptive route?
Adaptive leadership has four dimensions: navigating business environments, leading with empathy, learning through self-correction and reflection, and creating win-win solutions.  An example of adaptable leadership would be to create a win-win solution for one’s constituents as opposed to utilizing one’s hierarchical position to force a decision.
In sales, we might see that a technological approach to selling is using automated means to reach out to prospects as opposed to doing some homework on them (adaptive).  Another activity is to rely on product features and have the buyer figure out if they need your product.  An adaptive manner is to understand their issues, map them to the features of your product and give your prospect a benefit analysis to make the buying decisions not only easier but sound.