I'll be so glad to finish this book! Just two more chapters after this one. Today it's chapter 8 of William Willimon's Bishop, "Bishops Preaching." Previous chapters were:
1. Methodists, Alabama Conference in Motion
2. Summoned to be Bishop
3. Bishops Sending Pastors
4. Bishops Cultivating Fruitfulness
5. Bishops as Change Agents
6. Bishops Body Building
7. Bishops Proclaiming
Now, highlights of chapter 8:
- Like Willimon, I have a short attention span, but I frankly have a hard time seeing how his chapters hold together. Let's just call every chapter, "Willimon's Proverbs," and leave it at that. Here is a proverb that is true and faithful: "Stories create world. The one who would change people must offer better stories" (131). Hear, hear.
- Adaptive leadership (following Heifetz and Linsky) is 1) about change that enables thriving, 2) build on the past rather than jettisoning it, 3) occurs through experimentation, 4) relies on diversity, 5) requires significant displacement, reregulation, and rearrangement of old DNA, and 6) takes time.
- The distinction between leadership and management is an important one. "'Management is about coping with complexity,' while 'leadership is about coping with change'" (134). By the way, administration is yet another category. Administrator types can actually create unnecessary complexity if left to their own devices. In my opinion, IWU needs a new president who can facilitate good management that pulls out a lot of unnecessary wires and good leadership that will turn around our declining traditional enrollment.
- Five characteristics of adaptive organizations are 1) elephants in the room are named, 2) responsibility for the future is shared, 3) independent judgment is expected, 4) leadership capacity is developed, and 5) reflection and continuous learning is institutionalized.
- Interesting slam at the World Methodist Council as a waste of time and resources. Of course Wesleyans, including the seminary, participate in that.
- Willimon talks about a "culture of niceness" in the UM church that avoids conflict and sees conflict resolution as a primary task. Given his personality, you would suspect that Willimon doesn't care much about whether there is conflict or not :-) But he is quite right that some conflict almost seems necessary for there to be progress. I personally also think that conflict can happen nicely :-)
- I chuckled at Willimon's comments about the need for decisions to be made after data collection, that data collection can't go on indefinitely. I knew a leader whose advice to new leaders below was not to let people push you into making a decision until you had all the data. Some of those receiving this advice would just smile and wave... you never have all the data. Being an insightful leader means having an intuitive sense of where the data is headed even before it is all in. And being a good leader inevitably involves some risk taking.
- Some advice from Heifetz on how to bear the responsibility of leadership: 1) get on the balcony, 2) distinguish yourself from your role, 3) externalize the conflict, 4) use partners, 5) invite outsiders' points of view, 6) find a sanctuary, and 7) maintain a sense of purpose.