This is Part 3 of a 5 part blog series designed to answer your questions on leading change. It’s part of Change Week – from December 10-17th.
We’re celebrating the release of my new book Leading Change Without Losing It with a special, limited time 50% discount for Kindle and iBooks (or here for iBooks Canada). Plus we have some giveways and more (see below). Thank you for helping the book to become an Amazon bestseller in week one. It’s truly incredible!
You don’t get into leadership to make the easy decisions.
I mean sure, at some level it would be nice to have the implications of each decision spelled out so clearly that it takes seconds to make the decision. But, as we say, if that was the case, you wouldn’t need leaders. Anyone could make that call.
Your world isn’t black and white. It’s not right and wrong. Often the choice is far from simple.
And – let’s be honest – half the time you don’t really know what to do. Because the decision isn’t easy.
Snarling things even further, you have numerous voices coming at you claiming to know the way forward. And if you’re like me, sometimes you don’t know who to listen to.
Complicate that with this: when it’s change you’re talking about, the stakes are quite high. Listen to the wrong voice, you could end up taking hundreds or thousands of people down the wrong path.
This tension is framed well by Billy from Michigan. He asks about what to do when the choices you have to make when leading change are difficult:
How do you handle leading change when the opposition is wanting to do really good, Biblical things that are still pulling people and resources away from the strategy you’re trying to implement that’s also really good and Biblical? Especially when it’s not a choice of ‘good versus great’, but simply, this is where we’ve decided to go and the method we’re choosing to get there and unfortunately, even though what you’re trying to do is not ‘bad’, it’s increasingly divisive.
I actually spend an entire chapter of Leading Change Without Losing It on this exact issue (Strategy 3: Find a Filter). But let me answer it from a slightly different, and shorter angle now.
To make it simple, you have three options.
Option 1. Make no decision. Sadly, this is what many leaders do. Faced with competing voices and competing visions, they refuse to choose one over another because it would mean wading into the inevitable conflict that would follow if they made a choice. They just retreat.
When you fail to make a decision, organizational drift and paralysis follow. The whole group gets stuck, and leaders (who are waiting for you to lead) drift away in search of someone who will lead them. Everyone loses.
Option 2. Try to please everyone. This is only a slight variation of option 1. Leaders who try to please everyone will bend their vision until it isn’t a vision anymore, only a compromise. Of course you realize what you end up doing: pleasing no one. But that doesn’t matter. Because people pleasers always choose the short term gain that results in long term pain.
Option 3. Separate the competing visions, and choose one. Essentially, when you have several ‘good visions’ the problem you face is not choosing between the ‘good’ one and the ‘bad’ one. The bad visions were eliminated or disappeared long ago. The reason choosing between good visions is so difficult is that most leaders don’t have the courage to simply pick one and run with it. So you resort to options 1 and 2.
The best thing you can do is prayerfully consult with wise counsel and pick a vision.
Just decide. And then move on.
Release those who want to pursue another vision and strategy (they’ll probably join another organization or church or form one of their own), and then move into the future with an aligned team. Rally the troops. Cast vision. Give thanks. And march forward into a better future, unified.
By the way, you don’t need to:
Claim you heard from God and you are right and everyone else is wrong. You aren’t more godly than they are. And they might also have heard from God.
Assume you have a ‘better’ strategy than everyone else. Others don’t have to be wrong for you to be right. It doesn’t have to be the ‘right’ way. It’s just your way – the way you feel called to do it.
Pretend that you position possesses an iron-clad logic that no one can dismantle. Tried this. Doesn’t work. Actually your decision is probably faithful but arbitrary. Just be honest. You just decided.
So...just decide. And then move on.
Ironically, with strong leadership like that, some of the others might return one day…grateful that someone is going somewhere. And for the others, wish them well. They’re not worse than you or your new tribe, just different.
Will this work? Well, maybe. The ultimate test of leadership comes down the road when you look over your shoulder and see if anyone is following.
If not, you made the wrong call or made the right call the wrong way.
And if you made the right call the right way, the future is bright.
Either way, you broke the stalemate.
For your chance to win a free copy of the book during launch week, tweet about the book, this post or change using the hashtag #changebook. Then, on Monday, December 17th I’ll select three winners who used the #changebook hashtag on twitter:
- Two will win a free copy of the book.
- One winner will win
- Copies of the book for their entire team (up to twelve copies); and
- A one hour video consultation with me to work through your specific change scenario with you.
Thanks for helping us spread the word. I pray it makes a difference in many, many lives.