How Do You Respond to Change?
Someone once said, “There is nothing permanent except change.” You either love it or hate it. I’m not sure either of these dispositions are healthy. People who love change tend to move too quickly. People who hate it tend to move too slowly. Being able to lead through transition takes a healthy and honest level of self awareness about your response to change. How you respond will either build faith or build fear on your team.
As a leader in a season of change, the tempo and temperature in which you lead can make or break whatever is transition. John Ortberg says, “Leadership is the art of disappointing people at a rate they can stand.” It’s inevitable that your pace of change is going to rub someone the wrong way. That doesn’t mean you shift into bulldozer mode and force changes. It also doesn’t mean you tentatively wait for some kind of sign before you act. There is a healthy approach you can find that may not only solve your current problems, but also unify your team around something that truly matters.
Your tolerance and taste for change as a leader can have tremendous repercussions in your team culture. For those of you who love it, you’re probably bothered by the hesitation of your team. They’re scared to dream about long term strategic plans. They’re scared to take on new initiatives. This culture is the result of them just trying to keep up with you. Some of their goals they’ve been praying over, planning, and executing have probably been swept under the rug more than once by your latest and greatest idea.
For those of you who hate change, you’re probably bothered by the restlessness of your team. They seem misaligned, scattered, and although they may be busy, it feels unproductive to you. Your team may be trying to fill in what they perceive as a vision vacuum from the boss. Leaders who are too slow to make changes can give the perception of timidity, which leads to a lack of urgency. Proverbs chapter 29 tells us that people have no restraint when there’s no clear vision. Remember: Not changing can be as viewed as no vision.
If you’re the leader who lives way up in the stratosphere, constantly dreaming “what if” dreams, let me refer you to my friend at Orange, Frank Bealer’s approach to making meaningful change. He teaches that change comes from three levels of observation: what I see, what I think, and what I discover. Making changes solely based on what you see and think may not address the real issue. This means you’re more than likely only dealing with symptoms. It will be worth it to pace yourself through a time of discovery. Then you’ll be armed with data and facts that can actually fix the root problem.
Is it the Right Time?
Maybe you feel like you’re in a good season and there’s no need for change. Your team is performing. Your culture seems to be thriving. Why mess that up? As a leader, it’s your job to identify opportunities for growth and improvement. Our pastor, Chris Emmitt, trains our staff to think, “If it ain’t broke, tweak it.” This mentality helps us proactively make small changes before big changes become inevitable. This could be anything from simple adjustments to events to modifying a worship service flow. Creating a culture of continual improvement not only grows your team’s threshold for change, but can grow your team’s appetite for excellence.
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Seasons of change and transition typically come from two places inside a leader’s heart. One place is, “This isn’t good enough.” The other place is, “This could be better.” One builds faith. One builds fear. That doesn’t mean one is right and one is wrong. Leadership isn’t that simple. Emotional intelligence is needed to have healthy motives, reasons, and methods as you lead through change. How you lead in times of change has power to bond or break your team. So lead well!
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