by Dr. David Robinson
Astronaut, James Irwin, said, “You might think going to the moon was the most scientific project ever, but they literally “threw us” in the direction of the moon. We had to adjust our course every ten minutes and landed only fifty feet inside of a 500-mile radius of our target.” On that mission, every change, no matter how small, was essential to success.
Resisting change and defending the status quo only proves that you have no intention of changing. Almost everyone favors progress and dreams of how things could or should be. It’s the change they don’t like. Most leaders are willing to change. A few change when they see the light, but most only when the feel the heat.
Wise leaders are willing to change their minds, their heart, and even their behavior when change is uncomfortable. Willingness to change is a sign of strength – not weakness. Fools seldom make changes even when it really matters . Stubborn fools do not hold opinions; their opinions hold them and the entire organization suffers.
Believing in change is not the same as embracing change by making significant behavioral changes that move from the front office to the front line. The mettle of any leadership team is leading change when it makes the most difference, not necessarily when it makes the most sense.
Change is a process, not an event. Change works when all team members are energized, engaged and adequately informed throughout the process. Change seldom happens when managing leaders are in charge because their gifting and nature is maintaining the status quo. It takes strategic (apostolic ) leaders who, by gifting, constantly declare war on the status quo.
Changes come in two forms:
- First by leadership declaration or edict. If you have enough money, power, authority and time, you can effect change without team members’ approval, energy or engagement. “It’s my way or the highway” does not work anymore.
- Second, team Members make behavioral changes. This requires a lot of relational equity on the part of core leaders and buy-in by everyone. On average, it takes at least 70% of your front-line leaders supporting change once there is 100% consensus by core leaders. If you try to implement change without this kind of support, positive results seldom occur.
What causes lack of behavioral change? People are seldom the problem but most often get the blame. Senior leaders create most of the problems preventing change. How? By their lack of leadership in the following four areas:
- Lack of clarity about the goals and strategy for change. People cannot buy into what they cannot see or understand. This clarity diminishes in proportion to the distance a person moves away from the core leaders.
- Lack of commitment and passion modeled by core leaders for the Mission, Vision and Values of your organization or ministry. If your leaders have not memorized them, they will never be focused and energized by them. You are only passionate about what you truly believe and find worthy of investing your time and energy.
- Lack of accountability on a regular basis to reinforce positive sustainable results. Without accountability, there is no way to improve, much less change.
- Lack of trust in the leadership’s abilities and decision-making skills.
However, the Number One Enemy in making change, seizing new opportunities, and overcoming active inertia is the urgency to protect and maintain what you already have.
Whatever you focus on the most is what you produce the most. It does not matter if it’s the past, present or future. Whether it works or does not work. Whether it is relevant or irrelevant, your focus determines your outcomes not how many meetings you conduct or how long and detailed your discussions.
Every team member has a responsible role in achieving the goal for making change happen. Everyone must know the following or change will be difficult at best or never take place at worst:
- Everyone knows the goals for change and can state them clearly.
- Everyone knows what it will take to achieve success — individually and for the team.
- Everyone knows the “score” at all times — as a team and as an individual.
- Everyone knows they are accountable regularly to his or her leader, his or her team and most of all, themselves.
*Next month in Part II – “Seven Steps For Making Change Happen”