04 Mar '11
The power of courageous resolve
One of the key indicators of a good leader is their resolve! Any time you point an organization in a certain direction; there will be push back because most people are simply resistant to change. If you were to take a vote, the comfortable way we have always done things would win. Yet, to move forward, change, innovation and meeting the needs of a new day is inevitable. What got you to here got you to here but it will not get you to there. Another way of saying is it is “If you always do what you always did you always get what you always got!”
Missional organizations are intentional, change friendly and have great clarity around what matters to them.
But, whether or not the organization moves forward and aligns itself around that change and clarity depends in large part on the resolve of the leader. Organizations are made up of people who respond differently to change. Many take the view that this is simply the new flavor of the month that will go away – sometimes with good reason! Too many leaders articulate a direction but don’t stick to it themselves which breeds a certain cynicism.
In the darkest days of World War two, things looked very bleak for England. They were unprepared for war, made some significant tactical errors, had appeasers who simply wanted to placate Hitler, did not have the arms or personnel to fight, and faced the prospect of invasion. The game changer was Winston Churchill, who whatever his own inner fears (he was a realist) displayed such iron resolve that the nation chose to not give way before what many thought would be ultimate defeat. The resolve of Winston made all the difference in the world.
Resolve means that a leader will clearly articulate the direction a ministry is going to go and not deviate from that direction. They are clear, consistent and make decisions that are consistent with that vision. Over time, it becomes abundantly clear to those they lead that they are serious, that they will not deviate, that they are committed and that they are not going to compromise. That resolve creates a powerful movement within the organization. Resolve leads to clarity and directional integrity while lack of clarity and resolve leads to ambiguity and often cynicism. Resolve leads to stability as people understand that there is a compass that drives the organizations decisions that can be relied on.
Often the reason leaders do not have more resolve is that they have not done the hard work of defining direction and they themselves are unsure as to what that direction should be. That lack of “true north” is picked up by others. When true north is absent there will be organizational instability or a movement back to the comfortable, known and status quo. Resolve is only possible when there is great clarity in the mind of the leader (and their leadership team) and that clarity is what guides their own decisions.
The clearest signal to an organization that their leader has resolve is when they are willing to make hard decisions that are nevertheless consistent with the direction they have articulated. That includes personnel decisions where there is not alignment with the organizations direction.
In our organization, people often hear from me, “Do not underestimate my resolve!” I am committed to moving toward our aspirational goals, our “gold standard” on a regular basis. I know we won’t get there tomorrow, I know change takes time and I know that people respond to change at different paces. But it is the resolve of myself and our leaders that will keep moving us down the field toward our goal.