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“Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit.” — 1 Corinthians 12:4

Presbyterian Women leaders adapt to change

“PW Leaders Adapt” buttons show Presbyterian Women’s willingness to be flexible in the face of a constantly evolving society and church. Order buttons (free as long as finances permit!) through the PW marketing office.

Why the buttons? What is adaptive leadership?

Adaptive leadership seeks to solve challenges that defy traditional problem solving. For example, we have been trying for years to bring more women into PW. We have tried changing our meeting times and meeting days. We have varied our programs. These are considered technical changes. We continue to lose members. This is why we need to learn adaptive leadership. Adaptive leadership requires experimentation, acquiring new knowledge and changing attitudes, values and behaviors. Examples of adaptive changes PW has made are hiring a funds development specialist and joining the Women’s Funding Network.

In July 2011, the churchwide Leadership Enhancement Committee (LEC) sent two of its members to adaptive leadership training at Montreat Conference Center. LEC recommended and the CCT concurred that we have a training session as early as possible during this triennium.

Adaptive change is not easy, and the leadership it requires means developing and using a different mindset than we might have used in the past. When we employ adaptive techniques, we often must turn up the pressure on an organization and allow conflict to exist rather than rush to keep everyone comfortable. It requires us to look at the big picture. Ron Heifitz, a noted expert on adaptive leadership and a Harvard scholar, calls this “getting on the balcony.” This, he explains, is like looking at a dance floor from above so that you see the whole floor rather than the limited portion you see from the dance floor.

Another key element of adaptive work is that all levels of the organization must be involved and committed to the change for it to be effective. Adaptive leadership can be exercised at any level, and it does not require one to have an official position or to be in charge. How might you and your PW group use adaptive leadership to thrive and grow? Please share in comments below!

Learn more

Read an article from LifelongFaith that explores adaptive leadership in more depth.

Read an interview with Ron Heifitz on the benefits and challenges to applying adaptive leadership in a variety of settings.