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Handout 3: Giving the Work Back

Ronald Heifetz notes that an essential strategy of adaptive leadership is to "give the work back to people, but at a rate they can stand." Below are two sets of scenarios. Explore the differences between the actions described in the first set and those described in the second.

"Giving the Work Back" Scenarios — Set 1

  • When the pledge campaign falls short of its goal, the leadership invites members of the congregation to an open conversation about how to proceed.
  • A congregation hosts a number of listening circles so they can hear one another's thoughts and feelings about whether to add a second service on Sunday morning
  • A long-range planning task force hosts a series of cottage meetings and workshops to gather input for a new mission/vision statement.
  • A congregation's youth group is asked to consider how they might bring their Unitarian Universalist faith into the world and invited to work with advisors and other adults to refine and carry out the plans to support their goals.
  • Complaints surface in a congregation that young adolescents are "not ready" for the content of the Our Whole Lives (OWL) program for seventh to ninth graders. The religious education committee invites interested members of the congregation to join them at a workshop to thoughtfully consider the place of comprehensive sexuality education in faith development for youth.

Giving the Work Back Scenarios — Set 2

  • When the pledge campaign falls short of its goal, the leadership invites members of the congregation to speak to board members and provide input on whether or not to lay off a member of the staff, and if so, which one.
  • A congregation's leadership decides to conduct a survey to determine whether or not the majority of the congregation favors adding a second service on Sunday morning.
  • A long-range planning task force asks people to submit their ideas for the congregation's long-range goals in writing, along with their best ideas for a congregational mission statement.
  • A congregation's youth group is asked to choose a service project and figure out how to raise the money to support that project.
  • Complaints surface in a congregation that young adolescents are "not ready" for the content of the Our Whole Lives (OWL) program for seventh to ninth graders. The religious education committee votes overwhelmingly to continue to support comprehensive sexuality education and plans to publicize links to the UUA's website to explain the OWL program to those who have concerns.

For more information contact web @ uua.org.

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Last updated on Saturday, October 29, 2011.

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