Everywhere we go we are asked by parish and diocesan leaders, how do you lead through change? Whether you’re leading an entire organization through a transformation or coaching a single staff person through a transition, leading through change is one of the most important tasks you’ll do as a pastor or pastoral leader.
In leading through various seasons of change, here are 3 steps:
#1 Listen Thoughtfully/Question Thoroughly
Change, or the potential for it can lead to denial (“it’s not needed, its not happening, it’s impossible!”) or, on the other hand, there is a rush to make it happen too quickly, to try and get it over with. Either way, as a leader you’re not listening. Listen to the people involved, even when they are driven by emotion, even when they’re wrong, even when they’re working against you. As you listen, ask questions, especially if there is information you need to know. It is amazing to us how often otherwise intelligent leaders fail to do just that. Good questions will lead to more thoughtful decisions.
#2. Evaluate Rigorously/Decide Confidently
Change is challenging. It’s tempting to make snap judgments or jump to quick fixes. Take the time and mental energy to evaluate the situation from all angles before hurrying to a decision. As part of your evaluation, seek wise counsel from others who have either led through something similar or who can add helpful perspective. You also need to provide strong, confident direction for change. Even if you don’t feel confident, decide confidently.
#3. Lead Prayerfully
After you have completed the above two steps then you are ready to decide and lead. Do it prayerfully. Move forward in prayer.
None of this is easy to get right, and simple to get wrong. Taking time to listen, to ask the right questions, to honestly evaluate and decide confidently, even fearlessly, will help make any transition in your setting more effective, with less collateral damage and internal conflict along the way. In fact, everyone on your team or in your church can come out of it on the other side stronger.
For another take on this see Vanderbloemen.com