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Gaining Ground While Standing Strong: Change Amidst Opposition

Leading Change Without Losing It

Here is the outline for my talk called Gaining Ground While Standing Strong: Five Strategies for Leading Change Amidst Opposition that I delivered at Orange Conference 2013 in Atlanta.

Change is one of my favourite subjects. In fact, this talk is a very short summary of a few of the key ideas in my latest book, Leading Change Without Losing It (you can get more info or buy a copy here.)

Why Do People Change?

People change when the pain associated with the status quo is greater than the pain associated with change.

Strategy One: Do the Math

People typically divide into four groups:

Early Adopters

Early Majority

Silent Majority


Most leaders make two mistakes:

They assume loud=large

They assume volume=velocity

Although the opponents are loud and claim to represent ‘everyone’, they don’t. They represent about 10% of the population.

Although they claim to be going somewhere, opponents typically have a vision for the past, not for the future.

Focusing on the early adopters and early majority will help you navigate change.

Strategy Two: Choose Your Focus

You can focus on who you want to reach, or who you wan to keep.

Shifting your focus engages your fear.

is it more frightening to lose a handful of people or never accomplish your mission?

Would you rather lose the opponents, or the early adopters.?

Strategy Three: Find a Filter

Without a filter, everything sounds compelling.

As a leader you need to develop the questions that will shape your future.

The two question I ask are:

Is there a biblical argument in what the opponent is saying?

Is this the kind of person we can build the future of the church on?

If the answer is no to either question, listen graciously and move on.

Strategy Four: Attack Problems, Not People

Separate the people from the problem.

Turn to God. Because if you don’t turn to God you’ll turn on them.

Empathize with your opponents.

Wait a day before responding to any kind of correspondence that upsets you.

Strategy Five: Don’t Quit

Most leaders who change the world don’t move every five years.

Find good friends you can talk to.

Create an encouragement file (save anything positive that comes your way).

Develop a devotional life that has little to do with work.

Those are my notes. What are your questions about change?

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  • Thank you Carey for these notes. Enjoyed you and Jeff Brodie at OC13.

    • Carey Nieuwhof

      Gotta love Brodie. 🙂