4 Keys to Hold Through Seasons of ChangePublished June 23, 2020
In September 2019, I moved my family from Chicago to California to start a new job.
These past 8 months have been a joy as Parkcrest Christian Church has welcomed my family and trusted our leadership. We love this congregation.
These past 8 months have also been filled with immense change.
Personal and organizational.
Change that is good, hard and necessary.
Change that is welcomed and change that is challenged.
From a personal perspective, my family has had to acclimate to a new school system (with 4 kids under 10) and to find doctors, a dentist and to experiment with different grocery stores.
From an organizational perspective, my team needed to develop a mission, vision and values statements that were consistent with our DNA. We needed to restructure our staff to better serve that mission and right–size budgets. And just when we were ready to launch the framework, COVID-19 arrived!
The only consistent over the past 8 months in my life has been change.
While I did not get everything right in this season, I have experienced four important keys that unlocked my ability to lead and give my teams confidence in the process.
Key #1 Clarity—Know where you’re headed.
Keep the end in mind. Where is your organization headed? What values are driving you? With clarity, you can see the big picture when it’s difficult and others can’t.
During change, people will react with support or rejection. With either response, your feelings may go to an extreme place. You may feel that everything is going either right or wrong. Clarity can create markers to measure progress towards the goal. Stay the course.
Key #2 Communication—Know what you need to say and what others need to understand.
Armed with clarity, you can communicate the problem you’re trying to solve, the vision of why it’s important and the plan to get there. However, sometimes what we intend to say and what others hear are miles apart. In change, it’s easy to miss each other so being on the same page is important. As leaders, we must reduce the gap between what we say and what our team takes away.
In the book improv leadership, by Stan Endicott and David Miller, it describes a competency called “metaphor cementing.” Metaphors allows us to move the needle further by helping people see an old thing in a new way. When I use a metaphor, I see a lightbulbs go off even in hard conversations.
Key # 3 Consistency—Be who you will be.
Have you ever been frustrated with a leader who you don’t “get?” Sometimes she’s up, sometimes she’s down. The culture tends to shift to her “will” and that “will” change at any given moment.
Forrest Gump reminds us that life is like a box of chocolates; you never know what you’re gonna get. While it’s fun to get a delicious treat, it’s not fun if the team has to guess who’s coming through the door. Is it the fun leader today or the tyrant? Is it the thoughtful leader or the impulsive one? If people are going to follow, they must trust your character, intentions and decision-making ability. Consistency builds trust and with trust, anything is possible.
Key #4 Compassion—Love your team. The Master Key.
Change is hard. As leaders who are driving it through organization, it’s easy to focus on what needs to improve. While it’s important to focus on the things that can get better, never lose sight of the people you’re called to serve.
While my family and I experienced tremendous change this past summer, so did everyone else in the church.
- The congregation has experienced a new lead pastor, worship pastor and children’s pastor. Every upfront face is different than a year ago.
- The staff has a new manager (me) who came in with different strengths and insecurities that often play out in real time. They built something beautiful before we arrived, and if we lead well, they will continue to build after we are gone.
So, while this time is exciting, there is grief and uncertainty. It’s vital that leaders see change, not just through their own experience but also through the eyes of the people we serve.
Compassion is the Master Key. Our teams are not a means to accomplish our goals. They are people who deserve to be cultivated with care.
Over the past 8 months, I’ve learned that change management isn’t about fixing the “other.” Rather, change management is an invitation to take a journey towards understanding how we are being changed together to create a better future for the organization.
I am different than I was 8 months ago and thankful for my family and a team that trusted me through this process. I’m better because of them. At the end of a healthy change process, we can all progress.
Use these keys, unlock the doors and create thriving organizations.
Go get better!
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About the Author
Parkcrest Christian Church
Jared C. Wilkins is the Lead Pastor at Parkcrest Christian Church in Long Beach, CA. He creates environments that are irresistible to life change through vision, teaching and intentional development. He has a masters degree from Duke University and has served as a Teaching Pastor and Ministry Director at Willow Creek Community Church as well as churches in North Carolina and Oklahoma prior to coming to Parkcrest.