Hello SOTGC community,
You’ve been seeing the writing on the wall for a while now. The previous product or service is sinking and you want to make a shift. But it’s feeling so huge, a bit like trying the turn the Titanic when it has already taken on water. That’s because you notice there are organizational cultural undercurrents that won’t allow for healthy and powerful adjustments.
I’ve worked in multiple contexts and I’ve been the one stuck in the sinking and been the one who helped. In both, I learned a lot. These steps can therefore be done in a small-business context, ministry context, nonprofit context, or just about any situation where you see things down deep need to change for the goal to be reached with all aboard.
It starts with recognizing, moves into releasing, leads with redirecting, and culminates in reconnecting.
First, we need to Recognize — we need an honest assessment of the current situation. This may look different in different contexts so you use the method that works best for your context. The aim in recognizing is to have an honest assessment so that clarity is achieved. Dedicate the necessary time to explore the root causes of unsuccessful endeavors, seeing it as a leadership formation opportunity. If there are any “elephants in the room” (tensions, lateness, hostile body language, sarcasm, unkind remarks, silence, etc.) directly address those with respect but with the firmness of your leadership.
One practice to ensure a full assessment is to honor those who came before and completed previous work. This cannot be understated, especially in a nonprofit or ministry context. Whenever someone’s passion or calling is tied to their daily work, honor must be foundational when things need to shift. Honor looks like giving affirmation, credit, and respect to the work and the people who came before your work and your efforts.
Second, it’s time to Release — once the full and honest assessment has been done with respect and with honor it is time to release the previous methods or vision that is not working now. Within some contexts this is a quick step and does not require much effort. Within other contexts, this might require some time of acknowledging the loss of something that was once held dear to the identity. In some unhealthy situations one of the things that was assessed as “not working anymore” might have, over time, become entangled with the identity of the organization.
If you find that is the case, you may work on a remembrance and honor ceremony. Invite those in the organization to bring their memories, stories, and past methods to a gathering. Together, review these, and then set up a visual reminder that can be part of the new direction. This gives voice to those who might not be ready to stop doing something and start something new but also gives them motivation to release it.
Michael Hyatt suggests creating an environment that is safe for dissent. How? State you are passionate on the topic at hand and acknowledge others are as well. Share that the conversation will be one with respect and affirmation. When there is dissent, affirm you heard the statement, stay with the issue, and ask follow-up conversations.
Third, Redirect — The step of releasing is exciting when there is a clear vision. Set up transformational conversations and build a clear vision with action steps.
Michael Hyatt describes 10 steps to transformational conversations on his recent podcast Season 3, Episode 11, found at www. michaelhyatt.com.
Consider putting your perspectives on the new vision into writing for others or teaching it to your team so that new staff/volunteers can fully “own” their part of the whole.
“Make a list of the characteristics that presently describe your culture and team. Then make a second list, noting the values, desires, and dreams God has given you for your team. Identify three to five specific steps you can take over the next three to nine months to bridge the gap between your current culture and team and the culture and team you envision.” These tips come from Pete Scazzero, author of the Emotionally Healthy Leader, scheduled to be released in July this year.
Fourth, Reconnect — Once you have recognized, released, and redirected, it’s time to reconnect to the heart. That means the heart of the people on your team and the heart of the culture of the organization. As a leader, it helps the current workforce to experience their leaders as willing to take the time to “tune in” to them. This helps with those experienced workers who are in their second career or the millennials. Listen to what’s being said with body language. What we hear verbally is only the tip of the iceberg.
Reconnection often includes investment in key people whether that is your own time or in supporting those key members as they meet with mentors. For the sake of your team and the healthy culture, consider healthy rhythms as the indispensable foundation for building a healthy culture and team. Some may say this is “soft leadership,” but, really, at the end of the day, it’s strong ownership and you still make the calls.
These four steps help provide a strong map for making a shift that supports new growth. As you apply these tips, I believe you will be connecting a healthy culture and team with a well-positioned, powerful direction.
• What’s the status of your situation?
• What cultural undercurrents need to be adjusted?
• As a leader, which step do you need to work on today?
• Who needs to be at the table for the initial conversations?
Let’s go make some positive changes and see the prosperity of our vision flow!