Building Your Guiding Team for Your Change Effort

A critical component when seeking to lead change in an organization (be it a church or family or business) is to get the right people in place with the trust, emotional commitment and teamwork to do the job that's required.
If you missed last month's thoughts on creating a sense of urgency during a change initiative, I invite you to review that material in partnership with this article.
Why is it essential to build a guiding team before attempting any change initiative?  The reason is simple - without the right people working together, you will lack the influence required to bring about lasting sustainable change.
What are the characteristics of a guiding team?
  • It is made up of the right people.  The right people are individuals with the appropriate skills, the leadership capacity, the organizational credibility, and the connections to handle the change that's being introduced.
  • It is made up of the right people who work well togetherWorking well together means there is high trust between team members.  Trust is fostered and established through things like modeling, letting your emotional fire be seen, adding activities as you go along that build trust, grabbing moments of truth when they show up, helping people believe and feel that change is possible (Kotter).
How important is it to have the key players of the organization or church community involved on this guiding team or coalition?  It's critical!  The reason for that is because if the key players are not playing key roles in the guilding team, their sense of urgency will be too low and their complacency or anger or fear too high (Kotter).

Another way to describe this guiding team is to use words and phrases like "sponsorship" and "change leadership team."  Sponsorship is that senior leader(s) or key influencer9s) who has the formal authority to deploy resources (time, money and people) towards the initiation, implementation and sustainability of a change initiative (Britt).

The "change leadership team" is defined as that group of leaders with day-to-day responsibility for executing a variety of change leadership strategies to lead people through change and deliver the outcomes of the change initiative (Britt).
A metaphor I find helpful to describe the change process is to think of your change initiative as a sail boat.  The crew guiding the boat through the water is the Guiding Team or Coalition while the wind that blows against your sails (the change vision) is that Sense of Urgency experienced by the crew who sails the vessel.  Without wind, you can have the best people on your team, but the change effort will stall in the water. 
As you transfer this learning to your own situation, whether you be a pastor, coach, denominational leader, transitional leader, or leader of change in some other setting, keep in mind some of the following qualities in those you add to your team. 
Who should be on your guiding team? 
  • people with experience in managing change well
  • people with the time required
  • people with the respect of their peers
  • people with the right skills for the task at hand
  • people willing to be honest and challenge the status quo
  • effective communicators
  • people representing diverse viewpoints and areas of involvement in the organization
The stages of change or the characters in the drama of change as it plays out, are not steps up a ladder but actors on a stage that interact with each other through the change drama.  As you partner with the Holy Spirit in places where change is needed and where courageous change leadership is required, may you equip yourself with the tools required to be the best you can be in helping others in this work of transformation.


For more reading on this topic, consider both the work of John Kotter (Leading Change, the Heart of Change, A Sense of Urgency, etc.) as well as Ken Blanchard and John Britt's book called "Who Killed Change?"  For a summary of both Kotter's Eight Stages to Change and an overview of "Who Killed Change?" click here.

Now I challenge you is to TAKE ACTION!
Take Action

First, think about a change initiative you are currently involved with (a church in transition, a congregation you are coaching, your own church, an organization you are working with).
Now ask yourself the following questions:
1. Do you have the right people on your change leadership team?
         a) If you do, what activities will help build greater trust and move the team forward in effectiveness and strength?
         b) If you don't have the right people on the team, create a list of those who would be a good fit for your team. Once your list is prayerfully created, begin approaching the people you have selected.
2. Is the Guiding Team speaking with one voice?
3. Is our sense of urgency strong enough to continue moving our change initiative through the water? If not, go back and work on strategies to increase urgency.

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