Three Ingredients for Leading Change

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It’s a fact. Change happens. If it’s not here already, it’s probably right around the corner.

Most of the leaders we partner with are either smack in the middle of a significant change or are getting ready to tackle one. Whether it’s a complete overhaul of the brand, restructuring the communications team, spiffing up the website or just making a few tweaks, there are a few right ways—and many, many, wrong ways—to lead through change.

Regardless of how big or small whatever is about to take place, I’ve found there’s three key ingredients to help things go as smoothly as possible.

1) Ensure the right people are involved

The bigger the change, the higher up you want to go to ensure everyone’s in alignment. For some, this may include elders or deacons. This doesn’t mean senior leadership is shackled without their official stamp of approval, but it definitely helps to get input from the voices that matter early in the process.

Communication Directors: If you’re getting ready to relaunch a new brand or website, ensure your senior leadership is part of the process. The quickest ticket to Frustration Town is to loop him in at the end, only to find his vision is very different than what you thought. 

Another Bonus Tip: The same people involved at the beginning may NOT be the same people needed to implement the change. Choose your team wisely to avoid too many cooks in the kitchen and possible delays or derailment. 

2) Allow enough time

Yes, I know. If you wanted it done tomorrow, you would’ve asked for it then. Visionary, entrepreneurial-types aren’t exactly known for their limitless supply of patience or are thrilled to sit and wait around for… well… anything. We’re movers & shakers for crying out loud! Stuff needs to get done.

But measuring twice & cutting once can save a lot of headaches down the road. Allow time for excellence to be possible and for people to process the change. The need for this change may feel like it’s been eating away at your soul forever and you’re chomping at the bit to get started. I get it. But those you told may have just started wrapping their minds around what this means for them and need a little time to process everything. Speaking of process…

3) The process is more important than the product

Repeat #3 again slowly, as this can be hard to really sink in for some of us. It’s important to keep this in our line of vision because it comes with the greatest risk of things going sideways in our pursuit of excellence.

At the end of the day, does it really matter if there’s a shiny new name, logo, website, or fill-in-the-blank if we step over all the carnage left in our wake along the way?

People matter more than the product. Every. Time. 

I’ve applauded the leaders we’ve partnered with that weren’t afraid to hit the pause button when necessary. Sometimes they didn’t have enough staff to help manage the change, and the pace needed to be dialed back a bit so people didn’t implode. Others recognized the timing wasn’t right and a little more time was needed for key players to get on board with the new vision.

Whatever the circumstances may be, people typically don’t remember exactly what day the change rolled out but they will always remember how they felt during the process.

Don’t get so caught up in aiming for excellence that we devalue the very people helping us get there.

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