3 Essentials In Leading Through Change

“If it’s Tuesday, it must be time for a change.”

I remember the day I was invited to be part of a brand new team at a large corporation. Their reputation was sterling, the benefits to employees great, and the opportunity to be part of the actual creation of something was rare and wonderful. There were stumbles and starts as we worked diligently to serve the company and its customers well.

Six months later, on a Tuesday, the news was delivered.

“We’re making some changes.”

Departments were reorganized, leadership shuffled, and pink slips delivered. New bosses quickly issued new rules of the game and employees did their best to adapt. I was given a new title, new responsibilities, new staff, and new goals.

A few months later, on a Tuesday, the news was delivered.

“We’re going to do a little reorganizing.”

All in all, six of those Tuesdays would come and go in the five years I was there—all in response to things like economics and consumer behavior and competition. Change was sweeping and feverish and fast—and always ended up leading to the next Tuesday. Through it all, I learned a lot about being flexible and action-posable as an employee in the midst of change. And more importantly, I learned valuable lessons about leading through change—most importantly, to not spend that change too quickly.

When we come into a new position of leadership, no matter the length of our resume or the reason we got there, we only have a limited amount of “change” in our pocket. Even if there’s no external pressure, it’s easy to want to quickly prove ourselves as wise, capable, and worth the investment. We pull out the change and map big plans to spend it, oftentimes without truly having a clear idea of what our destination should look like. And we can cause more harm than good. We can lose great employees, destroy trust, and even damage the credibility of the ministry or organization.

So before you spend all that change, INVEST YOURSELF.

Jon Acuff says, “Every ‘yes’ you say is a silent ‘no’ to something else.” He gets the first essential key in leading through change. INVEST IN TIME. Don’t give into the pressure to make changes until you have given space and time to prayer, and to gaining understanding of the benefits and consequences of those changes. Be wary of any ministry or organization you serve as a leader that won’t allow you time to make wise decisions.

Gary Sinclair, a pastor I worked with for years, says, “Be careful not to overdraw your account with others.” He gets the second essential key to leading through change. INVEST IN PEOPLE. Take time to get to know the hearts of the people you serve, and give time for trust to grow. As Gary puts it: “We always need to be doing things for others that puts change in their pocket for us. If there isn’t much positive in their pocket, then even the little things we do wrong overdraws our account with them.” (Here are some keys to investing in people).

And Reggie Joiner says: “You are the leader. You can’t do away with tension. You can manage it.” He gets the third essential key in leading through change. INVEST IN CARE-FULL PLANNING. The temptation to develop a plan in isolation—to prove your own worth—will always be there. But Scripture tells us that “without good advice everything goes wrong—it takes careful planning for things to go right.” Invite people into those plans—even people who may not ultimately be part of them. Consider ways your team connects with the larger vision of your ministry or organization. Allow creativity to flow so new ways of doing things might emerge.

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