Have you ever had to lead change when you aren’t sure what changes are even needed?
Or have you had to lead change when there wasn’t clear agreement on where the organization needs to go? Perhaps when some players on the team were uncommitted or complacent? Or when the leadership pipeline of future leaders wasn’t clearly defined? Maybe a season of decline has been so long no one remembers what success looks like?
I’ve often said it’s like standing in the muddy water. You can’t see clearly where your feet are supposed to touch the ground.
What do you do during those times?
7 suggestions to lead change when you aren’t sure what changes are needed:
Analyze the situation –
You need to know the work you have before you. How desperate are things? You’ll get very discouraged if you try to lead thinking things are relatively bad and find out they are miserable.
This process can take a day, a week or a year depending on the depth of the water and how long things have been bad. Give it time. Learn the issues and the players. Hire a professional perspective if needed. But know the real issues before you try to address them.
Be honest –
“This change is going to impact you and it’s going to be hard.” How is that for transparency?
That may sound too forward, but people know something new has to happen. They may not yet be able to admit it. People may not want change. They may even resist it, but they know when change is about to occur. Go ahead and admit the obvious.
Cast a clear vision –
Where are you going? How do you propose to get there? What’s the timetable for doing so?
Share as much as you know today. People need to be assured that good things are being planned and on the horizon better days are on the way.
Communicate fluently –
Communication is always important, but especially during times of unrest, confusion or chaos. When times are uncertain people become frustrated. They need to know what’s happening and what is being done to improve the situation.
Remember, effective communication is speaking and listening. Do both. And do them often and well. Pastors, some of your best messages should be the ones where you are casting vision.
Stand strong –
Difficult situations can pull you under quickly. You will heed to be firmly anchored as a leader.
Make sure you are keeping yourself healthy, emotionally, physically and spiritually so you can navigate the days ahead.
Challenge when needed –
During difficult times there will be some who try to disrupt any positive change that occurs.
You’ll have to challenge those who want to add more drama to the situation. If you have to remove some who prefer to stay where you are then do so. Ultimately you lead with those who are willing to do whatever it takes to move forward.
Keep casting vision for better days –
You’ll have to encourage with a healthy vision of where you are going – and do it over and over again.
This is the time for leaders to be very visible and very approachable. People will want to know someone is guiding the organization towards a brighter future.
Used with permission from Ron Edmondson.