Adaptive Leadership: An Opportunity for Increasing the Representation of People with Disabilities in the Workplace

  • Mark E. MooreEmail author
  • Lana L. Huberty


People with disabilities continue to have inadequate access to jobs, which has led to a significant level of attrition from competitive employment. This chapter focuses on what it means to be an adaptive leader and the impact of adaptive leadership on employment diversity as it relates to employment of people with disabilities. When employees perceive equal access to opportunities and fair treatment, intent to change jobs diminishes: employers must strive to keep employees with disabilities contend. Adaptive leadership is designed to build mutual trust with staff members and has four core elements, including diagnosis of situations, managing the ‘self-element’, intervene skilfully, and energize/motivate others. All employees are managed to their strengths, and diverse contributions and adaptive leaders must focus on change to value and motivate each employee’s talents and contributions. It utilizes flexibility for systematic change, focusing long-term transformation through considering the fundamentals of organizations and its building blocks.


Adaptive leadership Motivation Trust Diagnostics Self-element 


  1. Atkinson, P. E. (2019). Leading through a crisis. Management Services, 63(2), 41–47.Google Scholar
  2. Baldridge, D., Kulkarni, M., & Bruyere, S. (2018). New directions in disability research: Work contexts, inclusivity, and well-being interactions. Academy of Management Annual Meeting Proceedings, 2018(1), 1.Google Scholar
  3. Barclay, L. A., Markel, K. S., & Yugo, J. E. (2012). Virtue theory and organizations: Considering persons with disabilities. Journal of Managerial Psychology, 27(4), 330–346.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Chrobot-Mason, D., & Aramovich, N. (2013). The psychological benefits of creating an affirming climate for workplace diversity. Group and Organization Management, 38(6), 659–689.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Cole, B. M., & Salimath, M. S. (2013). Diversity identity management: An organizational perspective. Journal of Business Ethics, 116(1), 151–161.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Das, R. (2017). Diversity scholarship and impact on performance: Research synthesis and future directions for theory building. IUP Journal of Organizational Behavior, 16(1), 7–18.Google Scholar
  7. Davis, S. A. (2009). SHRM’s international diversity and inclusion study reveals global trends and best practices. Profiles in Diversity Journal, 11(3), 14–56.Google Scholar
  8. Fowler, S. (2014). What Maslow’s Hierarchy won’t tell you about motivation. Harvard Business Review Digital Articles, 2–4.Google Scholar
  9. Gale, S. F. (2014). The untapped talent pool of people with disabilities. Workforce, 93(11), 10.Google Scholar
  10. Hall, D. T., & Parker, V. A. (1993). The role of workplace flexibility in managing diversity. Organizational Dynamics, 22(1), 4–18.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Horlander, T. A. (2013). Workforce development: A leader’s responsibility. Armed Forces Comptroller, 58(2), 20–21.Google Scholar
  12. Hunter, R. P. (2001). The effect of right-to-work laws on economic development. Government Union Review & Public Policy Digest, 20(3), 27.Google Scholar
  13. Jasper, C. R., & Waldhart, P. (2013). Employer attitudes on hiring employees with disabilities in the leisure and hospitality industry. International Journal of Contemporary Hospitality Management, 25(4), 577–594.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Kendall, K. M., & Karns, G. L. (2018). The business case for hiring people with disabilities. Social Business, 8(3), 277–292.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Konrad, A. M., Moore, M. E., Doherty, A. J., Ng, E. S. W., & Breward, K. (2012). Vocational status and perceived well-being of workers with disabilities. Equality,Diversity and Inclusion: An International Journal, 31(2), 100–123.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Kotter, J. P. (2005). Change leadership. Leadership Excellence, 22(12), 3–4.Google Scholar
  17. Kotter, J. P. (2007).Leading change.Bloomsbury Business Library – Management Library, 47.Google Scholar
  18. Kotter, J. P., & Schlesinger, L. A. (2008). Choosing strategies for change. Harvard Business Review, 86(7/8), 130–139.Google Scholar
  19. Lanaj, K., Johnson, R. E., & Lee, S. M. (2016). Benefits of transformational behaviors for leaders: A daily investigation of leader behaviors and need fulfillment. Journal of Applied Psychology, 101(2), 237–251.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Latham, J. R. (2014). Leadership for quality and innovation: Challenges, theories, and a framework for future research. Quality Management Journal, 21(1), 11–15.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Lengnick-Hall, M. L., Gaunt, P. M., & Kulkarni, M. (2008). Overlooked and underutilized: People with disabilities are an untapped human resource. Human Resource Management, 47(2), 255–273.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Markel, K. S., & Barclay, L. A. (2009). Addressing the underemployment of persons with disabilities: Recommendations for expanding organizational social responsibility. Employee Responsibilities and Rights Journal, 21(4), 305–318.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. McCarroll, J. (2018). Flexibility, inclusivity and aSense of Purpose. NZ Business + Management, 32(8), M18–M19.Google Scholar
  24. Moore, M. E., Konrad, A. M., & Hunt, J. (2010). Creating a vision boosts the impact of top management support on the employment of managers with disabilities. The case of sport organizations in the USA. Equality, Diversity and Inclusion, 29(6), 609–626.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Moore, M. E., Parkhouse, B. L., & Konrad, A. M. (2001). Women in sport management: Advancing the representation through HRM structures. Women in Management Review, 16(2), 51–61.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Nafukho, F. M., Roessler, R. T., & Kacirek, K. (2010). Disability as a diversity factor: Implications for human resource practices. Advances in Developing Human Resources, 12(4), 395.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Raney, A. (2014). Agility in adversity: Integrating mindfulness and principles of adaptive leadership in the administration of a community mental health center. Clinical Social Work Journal, 42(3), 312–320.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Reese, S., & Gilmartin, H. (2017). Infection prevention workforce: Potential benefits to educational diversity. American Journal of Infection Control, 45(6), 603–606.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Regional Center of Orange County. (2017).National disability employment awareness month: Employers and employees benefit from workforce diversity.October 2, PR Newswire.Retrieved December 2019, from
  30. Reitenbach, G. (2015, June 1).Fairbanks Morse leverage the benefits of diversity.Retrieved December 1, 2019, from
  31. Rynes, S., & Rosen, B. (1995). A field survey of factors affecting the adoption and perceived success of diversity training. Personnel Psychology, 48(2), 247–270.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Sanson, J., Bielsa, F., & Kumar, S. S. (2018). Economic empowerment for people with disabilities through the graduation approach: Lessons from Guatemala, Nicaragua, and Mexico. Enterprise Development & Microfinance, 29(1), 49–63.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Stanton, S. (2012). Thinking outside the box: The business case for creating an inclusive workplace. HR Professional, 29(4), 22–25.Google Scholar
  34. Woolard, N. A. (2018). Rethinking management group projects with the adaptive leadership model: The lesson is the process. Journal of Education forBusiness, 93(8), 392–402.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of KinesiologyEast Carolina UniversityGreenvilleUSA
  2. 2.Concordia University, St. PaulSaint PaulUSA

Personalised recommendations