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Lecture 11: Change
Leadership is transformational by nature. Leadership and change are like joint travelers on the same road. Fundamentally, people by nature do not like change. Moving from the known to the unknown may affect people’s competencies, worth, and copying abilities. Organizations get heavily invested in the status quo. It’s important for us to value change and help people work through the process.
A. Intentional Leaders Bring Change:
When it is clear with the leader of the mission, the vision, the strategies and the objectives, you start making decisions, and then things will change. Leadership is transformational by nature. Leaders who are truly intentional leaders are going to bring change. And if change isn’t brought about, then there is no leadership, but where there is leadership there will be change. Leadership and change are a joint combination on a journey together. Leadership is not for the faint of heart because in leading there will be change and that creates resistance because people by nature do not like change. We are creatures of habit. We get into routines very easily. We do this because of security; we get adjusted to something and we become comfortable. A leader comes along and changes things and it can get people very angry. It can create rebellion. If you are changing something for change sake, that is not a good idea. It isn’t worth the price. But if change comes out of a clear vision and strategy and objectives, at least you can explain yourself.
B. A Planned Change:
So, what does change do to the organization, especially a planned change? This is termed organizational development within companies. This includes the creation and re-enforcement of change. Once this has started, then you have to continue with the change, to stay with it. It should also be thought of as an adaptive process. You will have to tweak it along the way. Some of the strategies and objectives may have to change a little once you get into the process because perhaps certain things that you intended are just not going to work. So, you need to think of it as an adaptive process. A person, Kirk Williams, back in the 1950’s developed a three step process of change. This model has been followed and expanded upon ever since. It is a three step process of unfreezing, moving and refreezing. I will use the analogy of a home remodel. So imagine you are renovating your home; there usually are priorities that you do first. For the organization, you can think of it as being in an equilibrium which is achieved when there are people and forces that are pushing for change are balancing out those people and forces that don’t want to change. Sometimes this is healthy. In home renovation, sometimes not renovating everything at once can be a good idea. It is okay for some things not to change; you know the old adage, if it isn’t broken, don’t fix it. The remodeling process as in renovating the home is the moving process. And we have to refreeze that part of the change and there is always an underlining current of change, regardless of what is going on. An organization needs to develop in order not to have such resistance to change. This is what I call a culture of momentum where it is just expected. Change becomes part of the normal where you get a lot more comfortable with it. In regards to the church, it is about stories of people’s lives changing and if change stops, then the stories stop. We talked last week about long term thinking. This can foster this underlining current of change in an organization as well. In terms of what happens in an organization, there comes a time where you need to disrupt that equilibrium. We mentioned the forces driving for status quo and the forces driving for change are equal.
So what do you do to unfreeze? What do you do to start to create change? As leaders, modifying the forces that push for the status quo will produce less tension than increasing those forces that are striving for change. The group that wants change is not your problem; it is the people who don’t want change that creates the resistance. This is where you need to focus your effort. So one of the strategies we use is psychological disconfirmation. This is where you start to show them the discrepancies between who they think they are and what they are about showing what is really happening. This is being a leader who lives in reality. The mission and the vision can be a driving and guiding force in your organization. You can show where you are supposed to be and what we are about. If we are a place where failure connects with grace as Village Church states and that is not what you are seeing, then you need to start pushing those status quo forces that are keeping that from happening. So, that is how we create some of this change and we want to go with the route of least resistance. There is always an underlining current of change but some things that are constant in your organization are okay.
C. Motivating Change:
You need to create a readiness to change by developing political support. A change agent is the leadership themselves or a group of leaders. It can be a group or team that is brought in to initiate change. These are the ones who have been tasked with making something happen. You can access your change agent’s power to show you your strengths within the process. For example, if you are not great at communications for example, you need to find someone who is a stakeholder for example. Stakeholders are those who are affected by the change. They could be employees or church members or staff. In managing the change, sometimes you just have to push ahead and do it. Part of the process can include activities that are associated with change. You need to perhaps map out the change with midpoint goals which help you stay on track, creating management structures. Nobody likes the word committee; you can call it anything you like, but sometimes you will need a group that is focused on the change itself. Then you refreeze that momentum by allocating resources or establishing a support system for the change agents, where you reinforce behaviors. So, in terms of motivating teams, it is about modifying those forces that are pushing for the status quo. What happens psychologically with change, everyone resists change because of their sense of compliancy and worth and their coping abilities and how they define themselves within the organization? You change the organization and you change their relationship to the organization. They may not be fundamentally opposed to the change itself. They are invested in how it affects them and as leaders we need to recognize their investment. So, in order to create readiness, try to create a culture of momentum. You need to be sensitive to internal and external pressure. Leaders can make themselves more sensitive by surrounding themselves with ‘devil’s advocates’ so to speak with people who are very different than the leader. We all get along with people like ourselves; so invite your enemies, so to speak and see how they think. They will really challenge your status quo as such.
You can use external measures of performance by seeing how others work through changes. What are their standards for success? This can involve studying the mission and visions of other churches. You can review discrepancies between current and desired states. You can tell the story as such of why change is necessary, showing positive expectations as a result of proposed changes. As a leader you have to think a couple of chapters ahead. You have to be telling the story of what expectations that will be brought about. You need to understand what people are really resisting to. There is cultural resistance, technical resistance involving costs of how we do thing even in church. There is also political resistance caused by stakeholders who feel threatened. Often changes involve dealing with previous decisions that were made by those stakeholders. Sometimes, you simply need to say that the old is no longer working and there needs to be something new. You can apply mission and vision statements to the changes that are being made. They can be tools for managing a very specific change. A good exercise is to consider how you might bring about a change in any part of the church organization or its activities. Consider how you would communicate these changes. How could you keep ahead of the steps in all of this? What would it look like if you were leading such a team? What kind of mission or vision could you have written for all of this? What kind of story could you tell? Work with others to brainstorm an actual change. Make sure all of this is describable and measurable in the future. We want to be able to evaluate things as they progress. George Bush, for example, stated a vision in reference to a thousand points of light. Well, nothing against George Bush, but I don’t know what that means. How are we supposed to be a thousand points of light? But there is Kennedy who said, ‘we are going to put a man on the moon and bring him safety back to earth within this time frame.’ This is a measurable vision.
D. Reactions toward Change:
Remember how you felt when a leader proposed a certain change to you. I don’t want to have a change. Sometimes when leaders bring change, it begins to create an ethos of resistance. A leader knowing that this is sort of in the air, there is resistance with people not being happy. You put on your structural glasses as such to see if you had the right authority to make such a change. The second pair of glasses involves the human variable. You need to ask whether they are ready or not. What is the moral of the group? Do people trust me; what is my relationship to the group? You then put on the third pair of glasses and ask who are the people working for the status quo and the ones who want change? Instead of reinforcing your army of pros, let’s go; instead focus on convincing the people who want the status quo. Ask people why they feel this way; try to understand their point of view. Things do have deep meanings for certain people in regards to church. And as important as these things are, there are certain ramifications if certain changes don’t come about. The results could be the lack of growth within the church because things have become less attractive. Perhaps the facility has become inadequate and when people die, the church dies. The fourth pair of glasses involves asking the question whether the church or organization has ever been about status quo. What if those people who first established the church decided not to change anything? Would we be preaching Christ today from this church? Would we be sending missionaries out to reach the lost? At some point we make a decision realizing as comfortable as things may be, it isn’t the future. With the fourth pair of glasses, you want to say that changes are part of the DNA. It is who we are; we wouldn’t be where we are without change. It is our story.
Next time, we will talk about transition. We will also have a couple of guest spots where different leaders will talk to us about transition.