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Choosing Who To Lose When You Navigate Change

This is Part 5 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 marking 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). Later today I’ll draw the winners of our launch week contest (see below). Today is the final day to get the Kindle and iBook versions of the book at 50% off.

Who to leave behind when you navigate change?

Many leaders are great with the idea of change until it involves losing people. At that point, for many leaders, a paralysis sets in.

The #1 question I got asked about change when we were changing everything in my first season of ministry is this: ‘how many people did you lose?”  It’s like people desperately wanted to hear that we were able to change everything and lose no one.

The truth is, you can’t navigate real change and keep everybody you have. The people you have today are the people who like things the way they are. Change that and some will leave.

Chuck frames the tension well:

Some are set in their ways and refuse a new perspective, no matter how awesome it is. At what point, and how, should the proverbial bus leave the station? When do you and those with you press on with the change and leave the stubborn ones behind? This task requires compassion, but at some point, the bus has gotta depart.

What leaders forget is you’re always losing someone. You just need to decide who to lose.

Think about who you would rather lose.

You can lose a few opponents to change, or you can lose:

the people who dreamed of a better tomorrow

the progressive leaders in your church who are waiting for someone to lead. (Trust me, they will leave. They’ll find someone to lead them, and they’ll go quietly.)

the people you are trying to reach (who will never come as long as your organization is the way it is)

Which group would you rather lose?

Ask yourself, five years from now, who are the people I want around me –the opponents, or these groups: the people who dreamed of a better tomorrow, the progressive leaders and the people you’re trying to reach?

By the way, you can still love the opponents, you just don’t need to allow them to control the agenda of your organization.

Once you’ve decided who you are ready to lose, you can put the organization in gear and get moving.

If you want more detail on who to lose and who to keep, the first, second and third strategies in Leading Change Without Losing It offer specific strategies on who lose and who to keep (and how to do that) when navigating change.

What are you learning about who to lose and who to keep? What questions remain for you in this area?


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. Tonight, I’ll select three winners who used the #changebook hashtag on twitter:

  1. Two will win a free copy of the book.
  2. One winner will win
    1. Copies of the book for their entire team (up to twelve copies);  and
    2. A one hour video consultation with me to work through your specific change scenario with you.

Thanks for helping us spread the word.

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  • Robert Singh

    Very insightful blogs. I was wondering if there could be even a bigger problem if the flock says amen to all the change that the church leader suggests. Could it not be that those who leave were the very ones that the church needed?