2 min read

393: Adaptive Leadership and Building Trust: Lessons in Leading Off the Map

393: Adaptive Leadership and Building Trust: Lessons in Leading Off the Map

Join us on the Flourishing Culture Leadership Podcast as we explore essential tools for leading change with Tod Bolsinger, author and executive director of the De Pree Center for Church Leadership Institute, delving into adaptive leadership, building organizational trust, and the spiritual aspects of navigating transformation.


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In this episode:

  • Adaptive Leadership

    • Tod explains that adaptive leadership is crucial when leaders face situations where they don't know the answers. (03:31)
    • It involves vulnerability and the willingness to admit not knowing, which is essential for leading effectively in uncertain times. (04:03)
  • Trust and Transformation

    • Tod highlights that trust is fundamental for transformational leadership. (05:13)
    • Trust is built through technical competence (doing expected tasks well) and relational congruence (integrity experienced by followers). (05:48)
  • Creating a Holding Environment

    • Tod introduces the concept of a holding environment, necessary for managing the heat and discomfort that comes with change. (08:53)
    • The right amount of challenge over time can lead to transformation, akin to cooking with a Dutch oven. (09:00)
  • Inspirational Leadership and Employee Engagement

    • Al connects Tod's ideas with components of inspirational leadership in the Best Christian Workplace Employee Engagement Survey, such as operational excellence and compassion. (10:36)
  • Technical Competence and Relational Congruence

    • Tod further elaborates on the importance of both technical competence and relational congruence in building trust and navigating change. (11:13)
  • Organizational Trust and Meaningful Work

    • Tod discusses how meaningful work, rather than just personal relationships, builds trust and prepares organizations for the future. (11:59)
    • He cites Google’s concept of psychological safety as crucial for high-performing teams. (12:12)
  • Values and Organizational DNA

    • Tod stresses that values are the core identity of an organization and should guide change processes. (15:56)
    • New leaders must respect and adapt the organization's core DNA rather than completely overhaul it. (17:03)
  • Respect for the Past

    • Both Al and Tod agree that sustainable change requires a respectful adaptation of past values. (17:44)
    • Tod provides examples from organizations like Young Life, emphasizing the importance of clear, enduring values. (18:07)
  • Implementation and Change

    • Tod and Al conclude that leaders need to ensure their values are clear and regularly communicated to facilitate successful change. (20:02)
  • Change and Transformation: Pain and Trust
    • Minimizing the reality of pain during change can erode trust. (22:06)
    • Effective leadership acknowledges that change involves loss and navigates people through these losses. (22:48)
    • Adaptive leadership includes admitting uncertainty ("I don't know") and committing to learning. (22:25)
  • Spiritual Side of Leadership
    • Humility is essential for learning and effective leadership. (26:15) 
    • Empathy and courage are crucial for managing loss. (26:45)
    • Discernment is needed to navigate competing values and make decisions aligning with the will of God. (27:07)
    • Listening to employees and incorporating their insights is part of discernment. (30:12)
  • Leadership Challenges and Practices
    • Good leaders often try to outwork problems but should focus on outlearning them. (31:00)
    • Burnout can result from attempting to solve crises through sheer effort. (31:23)
    • Effective leadership in a changing world involves learning new ways and adapting to unforeseen challenges. (32:47)
  • Insights from "Canoeing the Mountains"
    • The book uses the metaphor of Lewis and Clark encountering the Rocky Mountains, emphasizing the need for new leadership approaches in uncharted territories. (33:07)
    • Leaders must be willing to abandon old practices and learn from new perspectives, similar to the explorers relying on Sacagawea. (34:13)
  • Final Thoughts and Advice
    • Change and leadership are practices that require continual learning and improvement. (36:24)
    • Leaders should embrace the challenge of leading change and commit to bettering their skills daily. (36:26)
    • Practicing change involves understanding and avoiding common mistakes to lead effectively in faith-based environments. (36:35)


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Read a complete, word-for-word transcript of the episode


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Email our host at al@workplaces.org

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