Leaders dream about change. That’s because virtually every leader gets into leadership in the first place to bring about change.
But another thing happens along the way: almost every leader I know gets frustrated because of a lack of progress around change.
Usually we get upset with other people because they won’t embrace the change we long to see.
But before we jump into the dynamics of change next week (starting Monday, December 10th, I’m doing a five part series about how to lead change when you face opposition to coincide with the official release of my new book, Leading Change Without Losing It), let’s look at something foundational to change.
Sure, there are reasons organizations skewer change. But there is another essential issue underneath it all that rarely gets talked about.
Surprisingly, this issue actually has little to do with your team, your organization, your cause, your strategy or anything related to anyone or anything else.
It has to do with you.
And your nerve.
And how you lose it.
At some point along the way, almost every leader struggles with losing their nerve when leading change.
But understanding why that happens is the first step toward overcoming it.
So why do leaders lose their nerve when leading change? Here are five reasons I’ve seen:
1. Fear of Failure. We all fear failure, but nothing makes failure seem more likely than jumping into the conflict that change almost inevitably brings. Leaders who successfully navigate change see the potential for failure, pray and strategize around it, and push through that fear.
2. A Reluctance to Disappoint People. Leadership – and especially ministry – attracts its share of people pleasers. The problem with leading change is that you end up disappointing people. If you are unwilling to be unpopular – even for a season – you will lose your nerve and fail to lead change effectively.
3. A Belief They Don’t Have What it Takes. Many leaders struggle with insecurity (I blogged about that here and again in this post.) The truth is, if you can push past your fear, and you lead with some deep faith and some wisdom around how to lead people, you do have what it takes. If you can get past your insecurity, you’ll be surprised at how much courage, wisdom and ability God has given you.
4. A Forced Comfort with the Status Quo. One of the ways leaders lose their nerve is to convince themselves that the status quo isn’t that bad. We’re doing better than some other churches. Maybe our current condition isn’t so bad. Ever heard yourself say these things? Ask yourself if you really believe them. You probably don’t. So don’t lose your nerve. Navigate the change you are called to bring about.
5. The Inability to Get Past the Pain of Past Failures. Once bitten, twice shy. Everyone’s got their scars from past battles. But failure once doesn’t mean failure forever. Maybe your idea wasn’t bad at all. Maybe your strategy just needs rethinking. So many leaders, through, lose their nerve because they remember how much failure cost them in the past. Keep thinking like this and you are one step away from becoming that person who says “We tried that once…doesn’t work around here.” Talk to a friend, see a counselor, pray through it. Get past the pain and on with the future.
Which of the five reasons leaders lose their nerve resonate most with you? What other reasons do you see? I’d love to hear from you!
Next week, my new book, Leading Change Without Losing It, officially releases. The book is designed to help leaders navigate change in the face of opposition.
We’ll be celebrating the launch with a 5 part blog series that responds directly to your questions about change.
Leave a comment here to participate.
Stop by the blog daily between Monday December 10th and Monday December 17th for special launch week pricing and giveaways as well as some very practical conversation about how to lead change.