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Appreciative Leadership

The resources in this collection will help congregational leaders understand both the methodology and the value in using the Appreciative Inquiry process to facilitate positive change.


7 Resources
Appreciative Leadership: Focus on What Works to Drive Winning Performance and Build a Thriving...
This resource explores the five core strategies of Appreciative Leadership and contains...
The Thin Book of Appreciative Inquiry
This accessible question guide for facilitators empowers groups to think positively about...
Doing Change Differently: An Appreciative Inquiry Approach
This article illustrates the difference between problem solving and addressing issues through...
Ten Assumptions of Appreciative Inquiry
This article provides the basic values of Appreciative Inquiry.
Center for Appreciative Inquiry
This organization helps people address challenges by switching from a problem-based mindset to...
web resource
Appreciative Inquiry Commons
This online hub for all things AI explains the positive change framework, offers a wide range...
Appreciative Leadership: Building a Thriving Organization
This video explains positive psychology leadership and relational strategies to collaborate...


Shellie Riggs Jordan

Shellie Riggs Jordan is the director of the southeast office in Seymour. She is an American Baptist pastor who served 14 years at First Baptist Church in Seymour as the minister of youth. Prior to her time at FBC, Shellie was the director of youth and children’s ministries at First Presbyterian Church in Seymour. To her work with the Center, Shellie brings more than 24 years of experience working with youth and young adults, as well as a strong background in ecumenical ministry.  

Shellie holds a Bachelor of Science degree from Ball State University and a Master of Divinity from Bethel Seminary in St. Paul, Minnesota. She loves to travel and explore new cultures. She also loves spending time with her husband, Brent, and their kids, Gabe and Casey. Shellie lives in Seymour.

Appreciative Leadership

Leaders in the religious community want to place those around them in the best position possible to be successful. One helpful tool in achieving this goal is appreciative leadership. Appreciative leadership is a style that focuses on getting people to work together, rather than setting up an authoritarian hierarchy. The goal of appreciative leadership is to analyze the strengths and weaknesses of everyone involved. Then, an appreciative leader can use this information to get everyone to work together to maximize the strength of the team as a whole.

When it comes to an appreciative leadership definition, this is something that can vary slightly from organization to organization; however, an appreciative leadership style can be particularly useful in the religious community. Especially when it comes to congregations, it can be helpful to take a closer look at an appreciative leadership PDF, in which it can possibly be seen that appreciative leadership in the religious community can serve to increase people's enthusiasm about working toward a common goal. Then, by providing everyone with an energy boost through appreciative leadership, it might become easier for the congregation to go on to reach certain benchmarks and milestones.

Naturally, it may take a bit of practice to successfully put appreciative leadership to work. After all, when people typically think about leadership, they can often tend to envision someone who is in charge. And when it comes to appreciative leadership, someone is still in charge of things; however, everyone also has an opportunity to voice his or her opinion. That way, everyone can feel like they are being better heard. When people feel that they are being understood and acknowledged, then they might believe that their opinion is being more valued. Therefore, they are potentially more likely to work hard in an effort to achieve the goal of the organization. In this manner, appreciative leadership can be a valuable tool in the religious community, and it can be a good idea for pastors and other religious leaders to know how to put appreciative leadership into practice.

Appreciative Leadership Examples

When it comes to congregations, it can sometimes be helpful to take a closer look at appreciative leadership examples. This can be done by checking out an appreciative inquiry worksheet. In terms of examples of appreciative inquiry, an appreciative leader is often going to be someone who asks questions to solicit the opinions of everyone involved. For instance, if someone feels a certain way, an appreciative leader may want to ask that person why they feel that way. Then, everyone will be able to have an opportunity to comment on the way someone feels. The goal here is to facilitate constructive discussions that will potentially help further the congregation.

As another example of appreciative inquiry principles in action, an appreciative leader might seek to collect everyone's opinion before ultimately providing their own. That way, nobody will have to feel as if they have to agree with the person in charge. This can be a useful way of reducing the pressure that often goes along with the act of speaking up.

An appreciative leader is also likely going to provide praise when someone in the group does something right. For example, if a member of the congregation succeeds in achieving his or her goal, then this something that can be recognized by an appreciative later. That way, that individual will be able to know and feel that his or her contributions are being valued. If people know that their contributions are valued, they are perhaps going to be more likely to approach the next task with enthusiasm. This is just another way in which appreciative leadership can help further the goals of a congregation.

Finally, another example of appreciative leadership might involve praising someone for helping another person. Oftentimes, organizations can be seen as seeking to promote competition, so that the cream rises to the surface. And while there may be something to be said for this, appreciative leadership takes a slightly different approach. With appreciative leadership, the commonly-held belief is that the organization is going to be better if people are able to work together. Therefore, an appreciative leader should perhaps try and foster teamwork instead of competition. This is just another way in which a religious organization can possibly move forward with appreciative leadership.

Appreciative Inquiry

If appreciative leadership is a specific style of leadership, then appreciative inquiry is a tool that an appreciative leader may be able to use to approach certain issues. When it comes to appreciative inquiry tools, it can be helpful to take a closer look at appreciative inquiry coaching. In order to effectively implement this process, there might first be several appreciative inquiry steps that have to be completed.

Overall, appreciative inquiry can typically be seen as a collaborative, positive group of techniques that seeks to help improve effective leadership through societal and organizational change. In religious communities, appreciative inquiry is a tool that can be used with the goal of increasing innovation, in which a look is taken at the culture of the congregation, strategic plans are analyzed, and best practices are attempted to be implemented. That way, certain initiatives can more likely be met.

In general, appreciative inquiry is usually considered to be a problem-solving technique. Often, problems and religious organizations can stem from inefficiencies which lead to outcomes that are less than optimal. As organizations seek to improve efficiency, appreciative inquiry argues that there is too much focus placed on the negative aspects of an organization and that the focus should instead be placed on emphasizing the positive aspects of the organization and bringing them to the surface.

There are several examples of how a religious organization may be able to take advantage of appreciative inquiry. The steps include:

  • Discovering the positive aspects of an organization
  • Dreaming of ways that they can be improved
  • Designing plans that can get them there
  • Achieving the destiny of the organization

Naturally, how a religious organization is going to go about achieving these steps may vary from place to place. Therefore, appreciative inquiry is also flexible in its application. When leaders are also flexible, they may find themselves having the best chance of successfully applying appreciative inquiry to their organization. That is how organizations can potentially be able to take appreciative inquiry, combine it with appreciative leadership, and go on to achieve outstanding results.

Appreciative Inquiry Leadership

When it comes to appreciative inquiry and appreciative leadership, the two can be very similar, as both of these tools seek to focus on the positive aspects of a specific organization. When looking at appreciative leadership theory, the goal might be to focus on the strength of each individual and to help make sure they know that their opinion is valuable. When reading an appreciative leadership book, it may quickly become clear that many of the principles of appreciative inquiry are still present.

In order to effectively apply appreciative inquiry, there are several principles that may have to be followed. First, the constructionist principle seeks to generate new ideas from those involved. Next, there is the principle of simultaneity, which believes that the answers are implicit in every question that is asked. There is also the principle of poetry to consider, which believes that the story of the organization is being altered by the people within it. Next, the anticipatory principle believes that all of our actions are guided by our own individual visions for the future. Finally, the positive principle believes that hope, inspiration, and camaraderie are going to lead to better outcomes for the organization.

It can perhaps be seen clearly that many of these positive principles are implicit when it comes to appreciative leadership. Therefore, appreciative leadership and appreciative inquiry are able to work together, and it might prove to be helpful for religious leaders to consider how these tools may be able to impact their organizations as a whole.

Transformational Leadership

Another leadership style that religious leaders should perhaps consider is called transformational leadership. When looking at transformational leadership articles, there are numerous transformational leadership characteristics that might be worth thinking about. It can also be helpful to review some transformational leadership pros and cons. First, the goal of transformational leadership is often to adopt a motivational approach. Employees can then feed on the example and personality set forward by their leader. By determining shared goals and objectives, it might become possible to identify areas for change and challenging individuals to take ownership of their actions, giving the individual more autonomy over each of their own individual roles and responsibilities.

Some of the biggest advantages that can come along with transformational leadership include that it can help to keep the organization open, reduce turnover expenses, and encourage change. Overall, it can very well prove to be an effective form of leadership. On the other hand, however, there may be a few potential disadvantages present, as well. Some may argue that transformational leadership is risky, can be disruptive, and can put undue pressure on individual team members.

Instead of transactional leadership, where people are usually simply told what to do and are expected to do it, transformational leadership works to provide team members with more control. When looking at transformational leadership vs. transactional leadership, it might become clear that these can be seen as two very different things. With this in mind, it may be a good idea for a religious leader to think carefully about whether their team members have the autonomy necessary to handle more responsibilities under transformational leadership.

Situational Leadership

Finally, religious leaders may want to consider situational leadership as well. When looking at a situational leadership example, there are perhaps a few situational leadership characteristics to keep in mind. Situational leadership articles can be helpful in reviewing the basics of this leadership style. Overall, situational leadership usually preaches that there is no singular “best” style of leadership and that it is rather better suited for leaders to adjust their individual styles of leadership in order to meet the individual situation.

There can be several benefits of situational leadership. It can be relatively easy to grasp, places the focus on employees, and it promotes a degree of flexibility. On the other hand, however, there can be a few drawbacks to this, as well. For example, situational leadership can tend to ask a lot of individuals as leaders, such as asking them to grade their followers, and frequent leadership style shifts can serve to create confusion among employees.

Overall, it might prove to be a good idea for religious leaders to think carefully about these leadership styles. When looking at a situational leadership example, it might become obvious that this is a leadership style that can shift quickly, from situation to situation. With this in mind, religious leaders may find themselves needing to think carefully about which religious leadership style would likely work best for their individual followers. That way, they can potentially begin working to place themselves in the best position possible to be successful.

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