By Todd Adkins
Leading change in any organization is both an art and a science and requires us to be agile leaders. There comes a time when you must quickly assess a situation, understand the current conditions, and commit to change. But has Mike Tyson once said, “Everyone has a great plan until they get punched in the face.”
As church leaders, we tend to overemphasize the science part and rely on superior planning, but that is only half of the equation. The failure to recognize the art of feeling usually gets leaders in the end. You must understand what is going on with the people and the environment as you process change implementation. You may need to adjust your plan to align with your unwavering purpose as a church: the gospel. Of course planning is critical, but if you can’t lead people, then you can’t lead well in an ever-changing world.
I used to say that if you can’t lead people, then you can’t lead change. But I’m beginning to believe that if you can’t lead change, then you can’t lead people either. Being a leader in any church or organization will mean leading change. And if you get it right, you feel like you’re swinging on birches.
Leading Rapid Change
In the past, a leader may have led one or two major changes throughout his or her career. Now, major changes happen every 5–10 years, if not more often. This is the lot we have been given as leaders. Two things are happening: change in the world is increasing while there is ever-increasing access to information, data, and expert opinions. Many leaders feel like they need a degree in chaos theory to move forward. Never have we had a greater need to implement change, and never have we had so many tools at our disposal to do so. But I am afraid this access has led to greater confusion, fear, undermining, and doubt in the way we lead.
With these ever-changing dynamics, I want to provide you with a step-by-step guide to leading effective change and becoming a more agile leader. In doing so, you are better prepared to adapt to whatever unforeseen circumstances you may encounter in your church or ministry. These frameworks are designed for you to use over and over again.
7 Steps to Agile Leadership
The most utilized change management process ever written was by John Kotter in Leading Change. We’ve used Kotter’s original eight steps and adapted them to help your church remain agile in the seasons to come.
STEP 1: What matters now? What is most essential to your church, and how do you carry it out?
STEP 2: Ready your team. You need people with authority, influence, and the right skill sets to remain agile as you adjust and adapt in ministry.
STEP 3: Cast vision and strategy. You must cast vision and strategy to show how this agility and adaptability will be the best course of action for your church.
STEP 4: Communicate, communicate, communicate. Communication should be clear, concise, and genuinely from the heart.
STEP 5: Reallocate resources. You must consider what to stop, shift, strategize, and scale in your ministry.
STEP 6: Create wins. A flywheel is difficult to start turning but, once moving, its momentum keeps it going forward, and it gets easier to move the faster it goes.
STEP 7: Remain agile. Change is transformation that helps you remain agile and best meet the needs of your church and ministry in an increasingly changing world.
Agile leadership is not a one-and-done thing. But in our ever-changing world, becoming more agile as a leader in your church will help you to best propel your church and ministry forward in gospel impact.
Adapted from Leading Rapid Change ebook. Download your free copy here.