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Shepherding Teams learn adaptive leadership

Posted: March 17 2018 at 02:36 PM
Author: Anne Marie Gerhardt


Consultant Rev. Susan Beaumont leads a full day workshop on adaptive leadership for the Annual Conference Shepherding Team and members of the six District Shepherding Teams.)

You may have heard the buzzwords, “adaptive change” and “adaptive leadership,” floating around, but what do they mean exactly? According to authors Ronald Heifetz, Alexander Grashow and Marty Linsky, “adaptive leadership is the ability to mobilize people to tackle tough challenges and thrive.”

On Mar. 10 the Annual Conference Shepherding Team (ACST) and members from the six newly formed District Shepherding Teams (DST) came together as a group for the first time to mobilize and tackle the task of learning about adaptive leadership. Consultant Rev. Susan Beaumont led the group’s full-day workshop at Barrington United Methodist Church to introduce how to lead through adaptive change.

“Most adaptation occurs out on the fringes of the organization or institution,” said Beaumont. “Truly adaptive leaders have attuned themselves to pay attention to what’s happening on the fringes, to protect it and bring it to the center so we can learn from it.”

Beaumont outlined ten principles of adaptive leadership based on the work of Heifetz, Grashow and Linsky who wrote the book, The Practice of Adaptive Leadership, and encouraged the group to think of ways to shift from technical solutions to adaptive work that requires “holding steady, and self-awareness with the capacity to observe, interpret and intervene.”

Shepherding Team

Beaumont provided the team members with exercises in diagnosing and understanding an adaptive challenge in their own contexts and then designing an adaptive intervention. She used the metaphor of a pot of water on the stove and said adaptive leadership involves keeping organizational disequilibrium at a  tolerable level of discomfort; hot enough to invite adaptation (to cook), but not so hot that the system boils over.

“My hope in this coming together is to think about a different way of approaching leadership as  we call ourselves to pay more exquisite attention to what’s happening right in front of us in our midst and instead of trying to squelch it – to let it birth into whatever it needs to be to take us into the next chapter,” said Beaumont.

ACST Chair Rev. Myron McCoy thanked Beaumont and acknowledged that the teams have much work to do.

McCoy opened and closed the day with this “Prayer to Accept Change” – a prayer he has adapted.

Just when we thought we had it all figured out, Lord,
things change again.
When will 
we be able to rest
in the comfort of knowing what comes next?

You, who transcends all time,
who created the stars and set them in place,
you, who are ageless yet known in every age,
us the grace to accept
the changes that are happening.

Empty our hearts of anxiety,
and fill it instead with wonder and awe.
us from the chains of complacency,
and bind 
us to your ever-moving Spirit.

When the things we believed to be permanent and stable
are left by the wayside,
enfold us in your undying love
that we may remember in whom all things are bound.

When fear of something new paralyzes us,
and grief cripples us with anger
over the loss of what had been,
send your angels to give us a gentle push
over that frightening edge into the unknown,
so that we may learn to trust in you.

For you alone are eternal.
You alone are enduring.
You alone are the everlasting Lord.
And in you alone will this restless world find peace.

Chang Helen

Helen Chang, ACST Strategic Planning Consultant

The Annual Conference Shepherding Team will come together again April 14 in Rochelle to begin to focus on strategic planning. Helen Chang, a member of Urban Village Church who has 28+ years of experience in healthcare strategic development and implementation as well as organizational design and management alignment, will lead the meeting as the ACST Strategic Planning Consultant. Chang said it will be an initial gathering to get to know each other better and to begin the process of setting goals as well as long-term planning for the Conference’s new structure.

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