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Salt and Light Leaders’ Conference. Session 2 Leading in Chaos and Complexity. Chaos and Complexity. In an increasingly complex world with an onslaught of information at every turn, how do we lead communities in a coherent way that maintains quality of relationship and clarity of purpose?.

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Salt and Light Leaders’ Conference

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Salt and Light Leaders’ Conference

Session 2

Leading in Chaos and Complexity

Chaos and Complexity

In an increasingly complex world with an onslaught of information at every turn, how do we lead communities in a coherent way that maintains quality of relationship and clarity of purpose?


Adapted from Ralph Stacey


Far from agreement


Focus on Relationships



Multiple agendas

Constant disruption

Unanswerable questions

Get on with it

Focus On Vision

Close to agreement

Unproductive Conceptualising

Rules & Procedures

Close to certainty

Far from certainty


Adapted from Ralph Stacey


Far from agreement


Focus on Relationships

Shared commitment


Complex communication

Allow emergence

New learning

Get on with it

Focus On Vision

Close to agreement

Unproductive Conceptualising

Rules & Procedures

Close to certainty

Far from certainty


Two apparently conflicting truths about the same situation.


Away From


Necessity Possibility





In Time

Through Time


Big Picture

Common Church Paradoxes

Responsibility/Impact on others

Experiment in ministry

Honouring heritage

Breaking down traditions



Cultural Empathy

Standing apart

Release and empowerment

Cover and accountability


  • Think of an area in the church where there

  • appears to be a conflict.

  • Describe both sides of the argument equally

  • to the rest of the group. What is the paradox

  • in that situation?

  • How could church benefit if more

  • people were invited to engage with both

  • sides of the paradox?

Living with Change

  • Change is a fundamental part of life

  • We can only get with the script

  • We resist engaging with change meaningfully because we don’t like pain

  • We need to honour our emotions, but it’s our commitment that can steer us through change, not our emotions

Living with Change

Disruption/ Interruption

New Order

New Relationship

Disorder/ Personal Chaos

Salt and Light Leaders’ Conference

Session 3

Being true: Commitment and Uncommitted Behaviour

Leading out of the unique expression of who God made us to be is the most effective way to bear fruit and live well. But that is easier said than done when faced with an increasing number of demands from all sorts of angles. How can we ‘live long and prosper!’ in our leadership roles?


Who I am as a contribution to this world


‘God calls each one of us to be what we are, to allow our lives to unfold according to our intrinsic nature, to become what God knows us to be’.

(Norvene Vest : A Benedictine Spirituality of Work)


‘A call from God is not a call to do something. It is to be a faithful partner and friend and from that identity, vocation naturally emerges. We do what we are’.



For we are

God’s workmanship…

Ephesians 2 v 10


‘We have a deep, often unspoken sense that we have been created for special purpose, that we have a serious and holy calling to be expressed through active engagement with the world’.


‘Each one of us has an essential role to play in the divine plan and we have a longing for the reality of this in our hearts, leaving us restless and unsatisfied until we begin to live in fidelity to it’.

‘We must listen for our own ‘deep gladness’


‘We are meant to be attentive to our own distinctiveness so that we can allow the unfolding of our souls in the service of God…


Enthusiasm means

‘filled with God’


‘en’ meaning ‘in’ and

‘theos’ meaning God.


God is far more interested in who you’re becoming than in who you’ve been…


  • Spend ten minutes on your own writing down aspects of yourself that provide glimpses into who God has made you to be as a contribution to this world.

  • Clues are: what you love to do and what you’re enthusiastic about.

  • Then find a partner and share with each other about who God has committed you to be.


  • What did you notice about the other person as they shared?

  • What did you notice about how you listened?

  • What did you notice about how you were listened to?

Uncommitted Behaviour

When the teddy leaves the pram!

Uncommitted Behaviour

Being Right and Making Others WrongDominating and Avoiding DominationShedding ResponsibilityCreating a Context to Justify our Negative Behaviour

Uncommitted Behaviour

Uncommitted behaviour means:We relinquish our commitmentIt achieves nothing positive in the long termIt has long term negative consequences:relationships, productivity, health, self-expression and fulfillment

Uncommitted Behaviour

How do we deal with uncommitted behaviour?

We need to make sure we are making choices consistent with who we are in God.

We need to get back to our commitment, rather than stay in our emotions.

Uncommitted Behaviour

  • Think of a change or initiative that someone has tried to introduce in the church or at work where you have shown uncommitted behaviour.What were you trying to achieve that was positive for you?

  • What would have been a better expression of that?

  • Is there an expression of uncommitted behaviour that is a habit for you?

Salt and Light Leaders’ Conference

Session 4

Learning to Love

The greatest commandment, Jesus said,

was to love……first God, and secondly, my neighbour.

How can we keep love as the focus and motivating force in our leadership?


  • Listening is the number one leadership skill

  • Hearing is not listening

  • We don’t listen, we reload

  • Listening allows relationship

  • How you listen affects how the other person


‘Listening is the beginning of love. There is a kind of listening with half an ear that presumes already to know what the other person has to say. It is impatient, inattentive listening that despises the person and is only waiting for a chance to speak’.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer


‘Holding one’s tongue means we allow people to exist in their freedom. God did not make this person as I have made him. He is not for me to dominate and control. I can never know before hand how God’s image should appear in others. That image always manifests a completely new and unique form. The diverse individuals are cause for rejoicing in one another and serving’. Dietrich Bonhoeffer

‘The deepest need of the human soul is to be heard…’


  • To evaluate – coach or critic?

  • For use – apprentice or mercenary?

  • With efficiency – steward or miser?

  • To relate –

  • heart or mask?

Listening Exercise

  • Think about a time when you were listened to negatively …describe how you felt.

  • Think about a time when you were listened to well. What was that like?

  • Think about your habitual form of listening…how do you affect the other person?

  • How could using the other forms of listening improve your relationships?


‘to shake apart’

  • Offloading opinions

  • Analysis

  • Repeating one’s view

  • Being defensive

  • Competitive

  • From a fixed position


‘flow of meaning’

  • Developing shared meaning

  • Active listening

  • Enquiring

  • Respecting

  • Being curious

  • Coming from an open perspective






‘Men are disturbed not by things that happen…

but by their opinion of things that happen.’

‘A conversation has a centre

and not sides’

Dialogue Guidelines

  • Be attentive – listen well

  • Be honest

  • Be present – no trancing out

  • Deliver what you want to say

  • No dominating

  • No withdrawing

  • Be humble

  • Be curious

  • Remember you bring your whole self

  • Remember you don’t have the whole picture

On the Terraces

  • Gossip

  • Explanations

  • Excuses

  • Whining

  • Stories

  • Commentary

Committed Language: On the Pitch

  • Request

  • Offer

  • Two Committed People

  • Action

  • Time of delivery

Principle of Positive Intention

Think of someone’s recent negative behaviour that you reacted to…

What were they trying to achieve that was positive for them?

What’s changed in how you feel towards them?














  • People

  • Environment

  • Conversations

  • Events

  • Feedback





  • We need filters: deletions and distortions

  • Then we form generalisations: beliefs

  • Beliefs form our map of the world…

  • But the map is not the territory

  • We only look for information

    that confirms our map

Perception Exercise

  • What do you believe about the community/team you work in/with that is positive?

  • What do you believe about it that is negative?

  • What did you delete or distort that may have kept you in these negative beliefs?

  • How do these beliefs prevent you from being who you could be for the community/team?


  • Leading in Chaos – disagreement and uncertainty

  • Key elements of organisation - vision and relationships

  • Shared commitment, holding up the paradox, promoting dialogue, allowing emergence of creative solutions needed to lead in the messy place

  • Understanding change – honouring emotions


  • Commitment – who God committed me to be for this world; who I am becoming

  • Uncommitted behaviour

  • Listening – no. 1 leadership skill

  • Distinctions between discussion and dialogue

  • Committed Language – when decision is made

  • Principle of Positive Intention

  • Perception without love…

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