Leading Well AFTER the COVID-19 Crisis

With Tod Bolsinger, author of Canoeing the Mountains

COVID-19, the novel coronavirus, is causing unprecedented upheaval around the world. What will leadership need to look like in the uncharted territory ahead of us?

Leading Well AFTER the COVID-19 Crisis

"Back in the Canoes—In Uncharted Territory"

Adaptive leadership is called for when you are facing something you have never faced before.

For Meriwether Lewis and William Clark in 1805, that moment came when they looked over the Lemhi Pass on the border of what is now Montana and Idaho and realized that a 300-year-old expectation of a water route that would connect the Pacific Ocean to Gulf of Mexico was blocked by the Rocky Mountains. The economic strategy of a fledgling country was now rendered irrelevant by the reality of unexpected geography. Writer Dayton Duncan said that at that moment they knew less about the terrain of the American West than Neil Armstrong had known about the moon when he stepped off of Apollo 11 and onto that lunar surface. Armstrong had at least seen pictures of the moon. One of Lewis’s men wrote in his journal, “Those were the most terrible mountains we ever beheld.”

For Lewis, the brutal truth was that the world in front of him was nothing like the world behind him.  So, what would he do with these “terrible mountains?” Lewis wrote in his journal simply, “We proceeded on.” They dropped their canoes, they looked to a teenage, Native American nursing mother for guidance, and they got help from the Shoshone people to help them navigate through the Rockies.

Eventually, Lewis and Clark got back into canoes again. On the other side of the mountain.

But—they were in totally different kinds of canoes that they learned how to make from the Nez Perce, they were in a totally different river, and they were changed as a group because they survived the mountains.

What will it take for you—facing a completely unexpected leadership moment—to “proceed on” in this way, even knowing that you will have to leave your canoes (and expectations) behind?

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And don't miss the "Guiding Your Church Through the Pandemic" resource from Fuller Seminary and Tod Bolsinger

Special Guest: Tod Bolsinger

About Tod: Tod Bolsinger joined Fuller Seminary in 2014 as vice president for vocation and formation and assistant professor of practical theology, and he now serves as vice president and chief of leadership formation. Ordained in the Presbyterian Church (USA) in 1993, Dr. Bolsinger served as senior pastor of San Clemente Presbyterian Church from 1997 to 2014. Prior to that, he was associate pastor of discipleship and spiritual formation at First Presbyterian Church of Hollywood. Holding both a Ph.D. in Theology and Master of Divinity from Fuller, Bolsinger taught graduate-level classes in theology for 14 years at Fuller’s regional campus in Orange County prior to joining the seminary’s regular faculty. He has extensive experience in church and nonprofit consulting and executive coaching and writes infrequent weblogs on church and leadership formation. His faculty role at Fuller includes teaching the Practices of Vocational Formation class and a cohort in Leading Change for DMin students. Bolsinger has authored three books, It Takes a Church to Raise a Christian: How the Community of God Transforms Lives (Brazos, 2004), Show Time: Living Down Hypocrisy by Living Out the Faith (Baker, 2005), and Canoeing the Mountains: Christian Leadership in Uncharted Territory (IVP Books, 2015). Bolsinger has also written a chapter about building community in a virtual world in the book The New Media Frontier: Blogging, Vlogging, and Podcasting for Christ (Crossway, 2008) and contributes essays and articles to journals in the areas of leadership, spiritual formation, leadership formation, and innovation.