This significant chapter from Heifetz and Linsky's book, Leadership on the Line, uses case studies to address handling differences and conflict in a time of adaptive change “in a way that diminishes their destructive potential and constructively harnesses their energy.” The first strategy, creating a holding environment, involves bracketing the challenge in a way that gives people the space to deal with it. A holding environment can be physical (an off-site work session led by an outside facilitator), or it can be a set of ground rules or processes. The second tactic, controlling the temperature, counsels leaders to pay attention to when a system is ready to deal with more challenge and when it needs to step back. Techniques for how to control the temperature are included in a table. Third, pacing the work, advises leaders to recognize the difficult emotional toll that significant and adaptive change takes, and to allow people time to adjust. The final point, ‘show them the future,’ reminds leaders to hold a positive vision in front of people during a time of difficult change. Congregational leaders facing significant cultural changes or innovating in ways that challenge long-held beliefs will find wisdom in this excerpt.
Reviewed by Wendy McCormick