Don’t be surprised if you hear the phrase "adaptive leadership" a lot during the next four years.
That phrase served as a recurring theme in the 2013 Quadrennial Training Event, on Jan. 17-20, which drew nearly 1,000 United Methodists, including 16 from the Oklahoma Conference, to Nashville, Tenn.
The denomination’s Board of Discipleship sponsors the training.
Oklahoman Chuck Stewart, who chairs the Board of Laity, said, "The core of adaptive leadership is the ability to motivate people to tackle tough challenges." He had urged attendees from the Oklahoma Conference to read the book "Switch: How To Change Things When Change Is Hard" prior to going.
Adaptive leaders make space for ideas from people often at the margins of organizations, said presenter Susan Beaumont. They frequently lead not by taking charge but by connecting people.
Oklahoma clergywoman Shelly Coulter Daigle said she appreciated the approach. She is secretary of the Conference’s Leadership Development Ministry Team and pastor at Tulsa-Trinity UMC.
The training "focused on empowering annual conferences to deal with their unique issues. I appreciate that it wasn’t a one-size-fits-all" event, she said.
"We want to hug all of our Oklahoma leaders," said Christy Clark of Walters UMC.
At Nashville, she said, "we seemed to be more prepared than others and the most organized." Maximizing their time, the team even met between sessions.
Clark read "Switch" and finds it useful in her work as well as her volunteer church role. And she hopes to infuse energy from the quadrennial training into Lawton District’s Lay Servant school.
"There is always room for growth," Clark said. "We can apply what we learned and become stronger."
Audio of some presenters is available at www.iaumc.org/audio.
(Heather Hahn, United Methodist News Service, contributed to this report.)