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05 Nov '13

When leaders are in a hurry to change things

Posted by T.J. Addington
I often tell leaders who are in a hurry to bring change to their team and organization, "Hurry up and slow down already!" This is especially true for leaders who are new to an organization and see all of the things that could be different, the issues that might have been ignored by a previous leader and the potential for better ways of doing things as seen through new eyes.

Why hurry up and slow down? Because major change (even if the correct change) brought too quickly can create a great deal of chaos from the speed of change, the lack of processing people through the change and the inability of staff or constituents to keep up with the change.

Change agents don't realize that most people have a built in resistance to change. People seek stability, not instability. Because change agents don't have that issue they often don't get it that others do. Fast changes are like a major earthquake: the ground is shifting, it feels dangerous and they don't know where to turn. 

Given that fact, the greater the change the more processing of people is necessary. They need to know what change is being proposed and why, they need to know what change is happening and when and they need to know what change has happened and what the implications are. It is all about process, process, process and that requires a lot of communication, dialogue and all of that takes time which is why fast change is often counterproductive.

Our hurry to bring change is rarely helpful. Our resolve to see change is! Resolve is about knowing where we need to go and being committed to going there. The pace is determined by how fast our folks can adapt and respond to the suggested changes.

Remember that change is a process, not an event and that those who bring it must bring the requisite skill in helping their people navigate the whitewaters of change. Knowing what one needs to do is the easy part. Working the process is the hard part. So my advice: hurry up and slow down already!