Adaptive Leadership

Leadership, in it’s broadest sense, can be defined as “mobilizing others to do difficult work.” Adaptive leadership is a particular kind of leadership. It is not simply about being adaptable in different situations—all leadership requires this. It gets its name from the kind of challenges it addresses, namely adaptive challenges. Adaptive challenges are the kinds of things that we run into that don’t have an easy solution or technician you can find in the yellow pages. They are challenges that require more learning, engaging more people, trying more things, and taking more time with a curious attitude and the goal of making progress not just finding solutions. They also require us to know and hold to our purpose, lest we get lost in the details and the pull of the status quo.

Leadership Competencies

Below are the Leadership Competencies and Behaviors developed by the Kansas Leadership Center. Writers from our congregation have undertaken the task of explaining them in their own words as well as adding using a Bible story to illustrate the adaptive leadership behavior.


  • [wp_colorbox_media url="" type="iframe" hyperlink="Explore tough interpretations"]
  • Distinguish between technical and adaptive work
  • [wp_colorbox_media url="" type="iframe" hyperlink="Understand the process challenges"]
  • [wp_colorbox_media url="" type="iframe" hyperlink="Test multiple interpretations and points-of-view"]
  • [wp_colorbox_media url="" type="iframe" hyperlink="Take the temperature"]
  • [wp_colorbox_media url="" type="iframe" hyperlink="Identify who needs to do the work"]


  • [wp_colorbox_media url="" type="iframe" hyperlink="Know your strengths, vulnerabilities and triggers"]
  • [wp_colorbox_media url="" type="iframe" hyperlink="Know the story others tell about you"]
  • [wp_colorbox_media url="" type="iframe" hyperlink="Choose among competing values"]
  • [wp_colorbox_media url="" type="iframe" hyperlink="Get used to uncertainty and conflict"]
  • [wp_colorbox_media url="" type="iframe" hyperlink="Experiment beyond your comfort zone"]
  • [wp_colorbox_media url="" type="iframe" hyperlink="Take care of yourself"]


  • [wp_colorbox_media url="" type="iframe" hyperlink="Engage unusual voices"]
  • [wp_colorbox_media url="" type="iframe" hyperlink="Work across factions"]
  • [wp_colorbox_media url="" type="iframe" hyperlink="Start where they are"]
  • [wp_colorbox_media url="" type="iframe" hyperlink="Speak to loss"]
  • [wp_colorbox_media url="" type="iframe" hyperlink="Inspire a collective purpose"]
  • [wp_colorbox_media url="" type="iframe" hyperlink="Create a trustworthy process"]


  • [wp_colorbox_media url="" type="iframe" hyperlink="Make conscious choices"]
  • [wp_colorbox_media url="" type="iframe" hyperlink="Raise the heat"]
  • [wp_colorbox_media url="" type="iframe" hyperlink="Give the work back"]
  • [wp_colorbox_media url="" type="iframe" hyperlink="Hold to purpose"]
  • [wp_colorbox_media url="" type="iframe" hyperlink="Speak from the heart"]
  • [wp_colorbox_media url="" type="iframe" hyperlink="Act experimentally"]