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Whether you’re leading an entire organization through change or coaching a staff person through a transition, leading through change is one of the most important tasks you’ll do as a leader.
In leading through various seasons of change, here are five steps I encourage you to consider in whatever change you’re facing.
1) Listen Well
When change is imminent we can be tempted to either operate in denial until we’re forced to change or rush to make changes to get it over with as soon as possible. Either extreme robs you of the opportunity to listen well. When you need to lead through change, take time to listen. Listen for lessons from history. Listen to fears and concerns. Listen for the reason behind emotions.
2) Question Thoroughly
After you’ve listened well, begin to ask questions ‒ lots of them ‒ particularly if you’re leading change through an issue that is new to you. Whether it be an organization you recently joined or a project that you weren’t intimately involved with, asking questions will help you uncover valuable information about sensitivities, key players, historical nuances, etc. Questions will help you better understand the landscape and make more thoughtful decisions.
3) Evaluate Rigorously
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 evaluating, seek wise counsel from others who have either led through something similar or who can add helpful perspective.
4) Decide Prayerfully
Once you’ve listened, questioned and evaluated it’s time to make a decision about what to change and how to lead through it. Consider everything you’ve gleaned in the process so far and prayerfully decide how to move forward.
5) Direct Confidently
Finally, you need to provide strong, confident direction for change. Your confidence is drawn from the intentional process you’ve followed and the prayerful decision you’ve arrived at. Now you must direct change with strength of vision and decisive action.
Leading change is not easy, nor should it be taken lightly. But this is exactly why you are in a position of leadership – to help set the course and lead others in the direction God is calling you. Taking the proper time to listen, question, and evaluate before you decide and direct is critical to leading through change in a way that honors those you’re leading. Change is emotional and stressful. Taking time for process equips you to be aware and sensitive while earning trust with those you lead. Additionally, the process builds courage for everyone involved.