During October’s Monthly LIVE broadcast, Rev. Junius B. Dotson, General Secretary of Discipleship Ministries, discusses how four essential elements for leading change in your church, community, or organization. Tune in next month on Tuesday, November 8, 2016 for our next broadcast.

LIVE: Leading Change—4 Essential Elements You Can't Do Without

Rev. Junius B. Dotson, General Secretary of Discipleship Ministries, shares how we can LEAD in changing times.

Posted by Discipleship Ministries on Tuesday, October 4, 2016

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Leading Change: Four Essential Elements You Can’t Do Without

Change often gets a bad rap because, in reality, it can be difficult. Change can generate pushback and resistance, but not all change is bad, not by any means.

In fact, can you imagine life without change? We need change. We need change to keep us moving, to keep us growing, to keep us passionate, to keep us on the cutting edge, to keep us moving forward in our lives. So if we did not have change, we would be in a very difficult place.

I believe that leadership essentially is about change. It is about growing the capacity in people to be able to adapt and literally transform their environment.

In fact, I believe that leadership is an activity, not simply a position. Whether or not you hold a position in an organization, a church body or a local church, you can still lead, anytime and anywhere.

When I was in ministry in Wichita, Kansas, I had the privilege of learning four leadership principles at the Kansas Leadership Center that are indispensable if you want to make progress on the issues you care about. They are: Diagnose the Situation, Manage Yourself, Energize Others and Intervene Skillfully.

First, Diagnose the Situation. Simply put, this is when you look at your organization or at a community issue from different vantage points. It is literally testing multiple interpretations.

First, Diagnose the Situation. Simply put, this is when you look at your organization or at a community issue from different vantage points. It is literally testing multiple interpretations.

Have you ever been in a meeting and someone says, “Let me tell you why we’re here. This is why we’re here”? Now that is someone’s interpretation.

A good leader would simply say, “Well, that’s one interpretation. Does anyone else have another interpretation?” Or, “Is there another way of looking at this?” Or, “Are there things we haven’t really considered?”

You have to give people the opportunity to offer multiple interpretations of the situation or issue that you are facing to decide if the work needed to be done is technical or adaptive. Technical things are often tactical, clear and easy to implement. Adaptive challenges are more difficult and require a process that allows you to intentionally learn and grow into a long-term solution.

What is interesting to me is that a lot of people want to just rush past diagnosing the situation. But if you get this stage right, it will make your leadership effort more effective.

I have discovered along the way that people lead as they experience being led, and so part of offering a healthy model of leadership is that we have to learn how to manage ourselves.

Healthy leadership begins with me and with you. I have discovered along the way that people lead as they experience being led, and so part of offering a healthy model of leadership is that we have to learn how to manage ourselves.

When you introduce change, people resist and anxiety rises. As the level of anxiety rises, you have to manage your own anxiety, and that means learning how to manage yourself well. I believe the goal of an effective leader, especially one in the midst of leading change, is to be a nonanxious presence in the midst of an anxious system.

To manage yourself, you must know where your responsibilities end and where the responsibilities of others begin. In other words, know the boundaries. Often when anxiety rises, we have a tendency to take responsibility that really belongs to other people. So part of the work of a leader is to constantly give the work back to the people it belongs to.

Two other key points in managing self are to have a clear vision or belief and to be responsible for your own nervous system and not react to reactivity. You discover your belief, or your core values, when you are under pressure, because that is when what is most important to you is revealed. Whenever people react to change, it is important for a leader not to respond to that reaction, but instead to offer a response that leads toward the group’s goal.

Energize Others, is important because in order to lead a change process, you have to involve other people.

The third leadership principle, to Energize Others, is important because in order to lead a change process, you have to involve other people. This means building bridges and sometimes talking to people who may actually disagree with you.

To manage and lead change, your process must be trustworthy and transparent. People need to believe that even though things are changing all around them, there is a level of transparency. Usually, they can buy into that.

Leaders of change also have to speak about the loss that people experience. When change occurs, people lose familiar things, so you have to constantly speak to their loss by asking the question, “What are we giving up in exchange for where we’re trying to go?” Speaking to the loss lowers the level of anxiety and allows you to continue to move forward in positive ways.

To effectively lead change, knowing how to Intervene Skillfully is a key leadership competency.

To effectively lead change, knowing how to Intervene Skillfully is a key leadership competency. A skillful intervention requires the leader to be aware of the situation.

Sometimes when you are trying to make progress on an issue or solve an organizational or leadership challenge, the leader needs to raise the heat. In other words, the leader has to create a sense of urgency for people to be motivated in order to change.

An effective leader knows when to raise the heat, and just as importantly, when not to. Sometimes the heat already may be pretty high, so in this situation, a skillful leader knows how to intervene to lower the heat, and lower the level of anxiety.

I have learned that when people are anxious, normally they do not make good decisions. You want to lower the anxiety so they are not paralyzed by the situation or the issue they are confronting,

Wherever you are, whatever change you are going through or leading right now, I hope you will remember these four competencies for leading change: Diagnose the Situation, Manage Yourself, Energize Others and Intervene Skillfully.