Leading in times of CHANGE
In times of uncertainty and change, what principles allow us to navigate the unknown?
We all lead in some capacity.
Leadership is about influence, not position.
You may lead in your family, community, church, ministry, job, team or classroom.
God has given us each opportunities to lead in different areas. I hope that some of these thoughts may be helpful as you evaluate your own area(s) of leadership.
I have recently been contemplating this question:
What leadership lessons have I observed, learned, had reinforced, and/or implemented through the COVID-19 crisis?
Here are my top 11 lessons for leading in times of change:
1. KEEP MOVING TOWARDS THE VISION.
Even in changing times, our goal never changes. We are still called to MULTIPLY Disciples, Leaders and Churches. We must remind ourselves of it regularly and use it as a filter to make decisions.
See our Western Europe Regional Vision
2. ADAPT HOW THINGS ARE DONE TO MEET NEW CHALLENGES.
WHERE we are going never changes, HOW we get there may change. Be willing to let things go and embrace change.
Lewis & Clark’s plan was to find a water route to the Pacific. But as Lewis stood looking at “the
most terrible mountains I ever beheld”, everything changed. “He was planning on exploring the
new world by boat...They would have to change plans, give up expectations, even
reframe their entire mission. What lay before them was nothing like what was behind them.”
When we face mountains instead of rivers, we need to be willing to adapt and forge ahead. It is a
true saying that “what got us here wouldn’t take us there.” We are currently facing many unknowns in the mountains ahead. Let’s be willing to adapt HOW we do ministry to continue getting the gospel out. Like Lewis and Clark, let’s be willing to leave the canoes and find some horses. An excellent book on this is Canoeing the Mountains. Here is a summary.
3. COLLABORATE WITH OTHERS.
I don't KNOW everything. Involve other leaders as well as those you lead to come up with a plan to move forward. More involvement creates better insights, better plans and better buy-in.
4. GIVE EMOTIONAL SUPPORT.
Do people FEEL supported and cared for? We don't lead robots. Good leadership remembers that people need to process emotions in times of change. As a leader, we must listen and ask what people are feeling. An excellent book on this is Primal Leadership. Here is a summary.
5. ABIDE IN CHRIST.
As a leader, one of the best ways to give emotional support is by modeling unwavering courage in the face of change. Unwavering courage is not mustered up, it is drawn from the well of stillness with God. We lead as the first follower. As we personally follow Christ, others can follow us.
"they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength" Is. 40:31
Focus on the essentials. I can't DO everything. Maximize your effort by focusing your energy on areas that yield the greatest long-term results. An excellent book on this is Essentialism. Here is a summary.
I can't DO everything. Allow other people to use their gifting to help. Learn from Jethro's advice to Moses; by letting others develop we can do far more. As the sign on Ronald Regan’s desk said: “There is no limit to the amount of good you can do if you don't care who gets the credit.”
8. COACH, DON'T COMMAND.
Start with questions before answers. This helps people to: A. develop and grow as a person instead of becoming dependent, B. find solutions that you may not have considered, C. have personal buy-in to the solution. Additional input can always be given, but if we start with answers it hinders personal development. Commanding leadership gives all the answers. Coaching leadership works together with others to find the answers through questions and collaboration. To learn more about coaching, check out The COACH Model summary.
9. PRIORITIZE PRAYER.
I don't have the strength or the strategy to create results. In times of change, both my strength & strategic plans often fail. We must let God shape our next steps as we daily depend on prayer. Be still and rest in the truth that God can do more in one second than I can do in a lifetime. Find strength in His strategy. "Cease striving and know that He is God, I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!" Ps. 46:10
10. THINK AHEAD.
What are the next challenge(s) that you are going to face? How do we need to adapt to face that challenge? Look for where God is working.
11. THINK DIFFERENTLY.
Think beyond the box, not just outside it. Don't simply make minor tweaks. Sometimes the most creative options are in the complete opposite direction of what everyone considers "normal”. An interesting book on this is The Bottom of the Pool.
Lead with all your heart in the area God has entrusted to you!