7 Principles for Successfully Leading Change

Every organization needs change to occur to continue to grow and remain healthy.  Change is hard for some people and is often rejected or rebelled against.  Learning to lead change successfully is important for any leader.

Here are seven principles that can help you think through leading change in your organization:

  • Lead change from a pre-established trust in your leadership.  New leaders should be careful not to implement a lot of change early in their leadership unless that change is vital to the organization.  Change will be easier if the leader is trusted.
  • Introduce change as early as possible.  People need time to warm up to the change that is coming.
  • Prepare people along the way by keeping them informed of progress during a change period. Include the good news and the bad news of change in these updates.
  • Get buy-in from as many people as possible.  Sometimes leaders have to lead alone (For those times read this post on the loneliness of leadership), but wherever possible include others in decisions concerning change.
  • Follow through on commitments made.  The quickest way to lose trust is to say one thing and do another. Likewise, do not make commitments you cannot keep.
  • Be consistent.  You will keep people’s trust through the change if it is easier to figure out where leadership is at and what they will do next.
  • Do not make change a rare occurrence in the organization.  Build a culture of healthy change in the organization so that change will be more naturally accepted.

What advice do you have for leading change?  Have you ever been in an organization that lead change poorly?

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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12 thoughts on “7 Principles for Successfully Leading Change

  1. I like this one: Follow through on commitments made. The quickest way to lose trust is to say one thing and do another. Likewise, do not make commitments you cannot keep.

    Leaders are often in denial about this one. And, followers are outraged by it (and they have memories of steel when it comes to remembering what you "didn't" do). Very tough to recover from a few of these.

    My favorite saying: Talk don't cook rice. (Chinese proverb)

  2. Great article. Leadership really is learned by doing. If we don’t make changes, we will not see a healthier growth of our communities and ministries.

    Kenny Hard.

  3. great article. getting ready for some change ourselves. would like to make one comment about point 7. change should be part of the culture, but too much change too often can leave your leaders' heads spinning. most change requires time for ppl to accept and time to work out the bugs. just use wisdom, and be sure to give some breathing room between changes. =)