In my observation, many leaders want change and know they need to lead change, but they haven’t been able to actually produce change. I think there are reasons for this. The process of change isn’t easy. Not every church, business or non-profit will tolerate change…or at least to the level prescribed by a leader. Some leaders simply don’t know how. (That’s not a slam. It’s a reality statement.)
I believe change is necessary for growth. I don’t think everything has to change. Some things never should. But, change, even the hardest kind of change, has to occur if progress towards worthy visions is going to continue to occur.
This post is sort of a gut check for those who want to lead change.
If you want to be a change agent leader:
You have to be willing to fail - Not all change will work. You can strategize and plan, but change at some level involves the risk that it may not work. Are you prepared for that?
You need to be able to withstand criticism – Change invites pushback. Change changes things. (That’s deep, isn’t it?) Change is uncomfortable and people will tell you the degree of discomfort they are feeling. Sometimes in passionate…even mean ways. You’ll feel unpopular at times.
You must evaluate and be willing to adjust accordingly - You can’t be a change agent and equally be a control freak. You are leading people through sometimes muddy waters. You’ll need to solicit buy-in from others. You will need to collaborate. You’ll need to process the success rate of the change and recalibrate as needed.
You have to outlast the opponents of change – When the naysayers show up you’ll have to stand strong to the vision of change for which you believe is worth fighting. It will take longer than you hope it will at times and you’ll have to stand the test of time.
You must think bigger than today – Change is always going somewhere new. Always. So you have to be able to think about the options that aren’t currently on the table. You’ve got to think beyond now and even beyond the most immediate future. You have to look for what others can’t see, choose not to or are afraid to see (or admit).
You have to challenge status quo - That’s the kicker, isn’t it? You have to go against the way things are being done and the way things have always been done. We are talking about change. Get it? Change. That means something is changing. (Oh, such a deep post.) You have to move people from the center on which they’ve grounded themselves.
You have to have a DNA in which to work that is conducive to change – And here’s another kicker. Every church and every organization in which you are called to bring change isn’t wired for change. The fact is that some of those said churches and organizations are going to die…they’ll stall…perhaps for long periods…but they’ll eventually just fade away…and nothing you can say or do will encourage otherwise. In the end, you can’t lead people where they don’t want to go. The sooner you can learn that fact the quicker you can try to be a change agent where change will actually occur.
Well, those are some hard realizations. I’ve studied and observed them by working with dozens of churches, businesses and non-profits and in the organizations and churches in which I have led.
What have you seen as necessary criteria to be a change agent?