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5 Reasons Change is Hard

As a leader, one of the hardest things to do is to lead people through the process of change. The reality is that change is happening around us all the time. If we don’’t change, we’’ll be left behind.

Change is a function of growth. Things cannot grow unless they change. The paradigm that exists with all change as it relates to people is that the person must decide to change before they will.

A leader’’s job is to inspire and influence the people they lead to create an environment where it is easy to change. As with most leadership principles, this one is easier said than done.

I’’ve found that there are really five reasons that change is hard for so many people. In fact, I identified these in myself. So let’’s learn and grow together!

I Don’t Want To

There are moments in time where we become obstinate. We just flat out don’’t want to change. It can be vindictive because we don’’t agree with the change or it can come from a place of bitterness because of a broken relationship.

Regardless of where it comes from or what causes it, this can be very difficult for a leader to overcome. I think the key is to uncover the root and approach the change delicately.

I Don’t See The Value

This is the most common reason that people don’’t adopt change. It is largely the fault of the leader. Ouch! The truth is that leaders must communicate to those around them the “Why” behind the change.

People must move from understand the reason and towards seeing the value behind it. This happens through open dialogue and giving people the time to get there themselves.

I’m Too Comfortable

Let’’s face it—there are many things in our lives that are habits. We are just flat out comfortable doing them. The thought of change means that I am going to have to work hard or do something that is out of the ordinary for me.

Routines and traditions are the comfort zone of many people. This can make change difficult. But, if “there” is better than “here,” then I can more easily leave my place of comfort and move to that place.

We’ve Tried That Before

This one can be pervasive and deadly for an organization. Often, I’’ve found that the old way of doing things may not have worked back then, but it works great now. This is usually because there are different people involved or there was something missing back then that isn’’t today.

When people get the sense that we’’ve tried it before and it didn’’t work, this can be a difficult idea to overcome. In many ways, the leader will have to take some risk and prove to the team, through practical application, that it can work now even when it didn’’t work then.

It’’s Too Much Work

I’’ve already mentioned the idea of comfort zones. But this goes beyond that. Not only does change inherently require us to work harder, but most change brings with it new systems, new processes, and even new personalities.

Change is hard work and it requires a team that is able to endure…focused on the end result. The most important thing a leader can do when faced with this mentality is to re-focus the team on the mission.

The change is directly tied to the mission and if we don’t change, it means that we will not be fulfilling our mission and could, in a worst case scenario, become extinct.

Can you relate to any of these? Which of these have you been guilty of when faced with change?

Reposted with permission. This article originally appeared here.

5 Hacks to Increase Your Team’s Consistency

5 Hacks to Increase Your Team’s Consistency

Be sure to read my previous article on knowing if you team is inconsistent. Now you’’ve evaluated the team that you lead and discovered that they’’re not as consistent as you’’d like them to be. Now what? How do I help them become more consistent?

I’m glad you asked! Here are five ways to help increase consistency:

Over-communicate

When leading a team, I’m not sure that it’s possible to communicate too much. I’m sure that it is, but far too many of us woefully under-communicate that an increase in our communication would be welcomed. When we communicate with our teams we are setting expectations.

The more that they hear from us the more likely we are to adequately shape the culture and that leads to consistency and excellence.

Have a system for development

Often, one of the main reasons a team is inconsistent is because they lack training. Especially in any kind of on-going way. If there is training present, it happens haphazardly and without any clear system.

It’’s important that we have a system in place and that we follow that system to train, assess, and create plans for improvement.

Focus on the foundation

When a team is inconsistent, it is best to go back to the basics of what you do. Start at the foundation and then build from there. Even if the team has been together for many years, if you find that they’re not operating at their optimal level, it’’s time to revisit the foundation.

So, pull out the job description, the handbook, or whatever introductory guides that exist and review them with the team.

Staff adequately

Inconsistency can be a by-product of not having enough people. When you’re people are stretched thin and filling multiple roles, they’’re not going to be at their best. So, be sure that you have enough people to do everything that needs to be done.

During certain peak seasons or moments of quick growth, it’’s even valuable to over-staff so that you can exceed the expectations.

Inspect what you expect

I’’m not sure who to give credit to for this statement, but it’s so true. Once you’’ve delegated and once you’’ve trained, it’s vital that you then follow up regularly to make sure that the job is being done and that there’s consistency.

Often, we set the expectation and then walk away and never check back until there’s a fire burning too big to be extinguished. Also, inspecting what you expect will help you identify what you need to communicate about, what you need to train on, etc.

Reposted with permission. This article originally appeared here.

5 Ways to Know If Your Team is Inconsistent

5 Ways to Know If Your Team is Inconsistent

In a world of overload—, information overload, option overload, and overload overload, —there are very few things that set organizations apart from one another.

Making decisions about where we will shop, eat, and worship are becoming more difficult. Who has the best deal? Where did I have the best experience the last time I was there? Which comes the most recommended by my friends?

Decisions can be difficult and confusing. Those organizations that will survive have one foundational principal that helps them succeed and differentiate themselves. A principal that takes years to perfect and only moments to lose. The one principal that will launch a business from mediocre to phenomenal.

What is it? Consistency.

I remember my days in the restaurant business. Consistency was the main goal of our business. Being consistently good, that is. If I go to the restaurant today and order a steak, it will be prepared exactly like it was when I ordered it weeks and even months ago. The service will be every bit as good as it was back “then.” The overall experience that I have will be good from the moment I walk through the doors until I leave at the end of my meal.

You see, consistency was vital before us—mostly because we wanted people (customers) to know what to expect every time they came to our restaurant. If that experience was good, they would choose to come to our place more often than they choose to go to our competitor’s place. It boiled down to them knowing what they would get every time they stepped through our doors.

The same is true in every organization. Consistency is a foundational key to finding success in today’s “overloaded” culture. We must find ways to be more consistent so that the people that come to us can know what to expect and can feel comfortable enough to invite their friends and family to come along with them.

So, as a leader, here are 5 ways to know if your team is inconsistent:

You’’re putting out fires instead of building bridges

If you find yourself regularly having to address crises rather than spending time with customers/people, then you have a team that is inconsistent. The leader of the organization/church/ministry should not be running around addressing issues—but should be meeting people and getting to know those that your organization is reaching.

You’’re reacting instead of being proactive

If you are having to react to things and circumstances rather than having things in place to give people the best experience in your organization, you are leading an inconsistent team. Leaders should have things in place that anticipate needs and concerns so that when they happen, they don’t become a distraction from the mission.

You’’re responding to criticism rather than compliments

Inconsistency often brings with it criticism. Critics wait for an organization to fail and then they jump on it. And, if you’re a person who finds that your time is monopolized by responding to criticism, you have a consistency problem. A consistent organization, on the other hand, finds that it has raving fans.

Think of the best places that you do business with—are they consistent? If so, you are probably quick to recommend them to your friends and tell everyone what a great job they do.

You’’re doing the work rather than leading the work

Leaders of inconsistent organizations can find that they have to spend a lot of their time interacting with the day-to-day. These leaders are entrenched in operational inefficiencies and, because of it, are handicapped in their ability to lead the organization well. They find that they can’t get out of the weeds enough to think about the direction of the organization or making strategic moves to make the team better.

You’’re focused on tasks and systems rather than vision

Don’’t get me wrong, every leader needs to spend time on tasks and systems. Once they are set, the leader should be able to delegate the movement of these things to others. A leader of an inconsistent organization will find themselves in the middle of tasks and systems to the point where they can’t plan for the future.

Rather than visioning for the future, they find their time is spent on how to address the shortfalls from the previous week’s or day’s operations.

As I mentioned in the beginning, consistency is key for every organization. It doesn’’t matter what you do or how many employees you have, if any of these five things are true for you, you need to address this foundational principle of consistency.

How would you rate the organization you work/volunteer for? Do you see any of these five there?

Reposted with permission. This article originally appeared here.

4 Fears That Kill Leadership Potential

4 Fears That Kill Leadership Potential

I’’ve failed more than I’’ve succeeded. I’’ve been criticized more than I’’ve been complimented. I’’ve been thrown into circumstances that I’’ve never been in before more times than I’ve found myself somewhere familiar.

Because of those truths, it makes me fearful that those trends will continue and I will ultimately find myself unemployed, alone and isolated.

Maybe you can relate. I make decisions worried that it won’’t work out. I assign tasks scared that they won’’t follow through. I lead the team into the future doubting that goals will be accomplished. Sound familiar?

Don’’t get me wrong. I wish that fear wasn’’t a part of my life. I sincerely hope that one day I’’ll be in a place where I have so much confidence that fear dare not rear its ugly face. But that day is not today.

The truth is that we leaders don’’t do a good job at all of sharing these fears. We don’’t want to get vulnerable or seem like we don’t have it all together. Although I don’’t advocate this, I completely understand. But I have come to find over the many years of leadership that we all share at least some of these fears.

1. Fear of Failure

This fear goes beyond the common dislike of failure. No one likes to fail. Although good things can come from failure, it’’s never a good feeling when you do fail.

The fear that I’’m talking about here is the one where you obsess about the possibility of failure. Rather than immediately thinking about what could happen if you succeed, you’’re consumed by what will happen if you fail.

Ever been there? You’’ve been given a promotion or a new assignment at work and the only thing you find yourself thinking about is what happened to the last guy and how he failed. Or you stay awake at night thinking through “what if” scenarios that all end in you being fired or causing the organization to go bankrupt.

The fear of failure makes you stay where it’s familiar a little too long and prevents you from reaching new heights and accomplishing greater things.

2. Fear of Criticism

This one is tough for me. Other people’’s words and descriptions about me matter to me. Not to the point where I think I’’m a people-pleaser, but they do impact me more than they should. When I am criticized, I can remember every word spoken and every nonverbal action exhibited. I can remember, specifically, criticisms that I received over 20 years ago (I know, I need to let it go).

But because of this, in my leadership, I find that I am paralyzed when faced with the possibility of criticism.

Do you connect with that idea? You’’ve just been put on a team with the most critical person on the team—you know, the person who is critical of every idea that isn’’t their own  It doesn’’t matter what you suggest or do, you will be criticized.

As leaders, we can’’t allow others’ words to keep us from leading our team forward. The fear of criticism forces you into a place where you only recycle old ideas and limit your creative output.

3. Fear of Inadequacy

Maybe my story is unique, but I’’m guessing that it’’s not. I don’t think I’’ve ever been the leader of a group or organization in which I felt I had what it took to succeed. When faced with something new, I immediately feel this comparison game start to creep in and how others could do it much better than I could.

Do you compare yourself, too? It can be someone we work with or a peer in the industry. We look at them and we immediately think that they have it all figured out and we don’’t. The reality is that the fear of inadequacy is a no-win proposition.

There will always be people doing it better.… And there will always be people that appear to be doing it better. The fear of inadequacy diminishes the gifts and skills you have and hides them away until they die and are no longer useful to you.

4. Fear of Success

I’’ve seen this one over and over. I have seen people at the point of graduating from college who fail a class just so they don’t have to leave the comfort of what they’’ve come to know for the last few years. That’’s how this fear manifests itself most often.

I want you to hear and be encouraged by this: If you have fear as you lead, you are completely normal. There is nothing wrong with you. It absolutely does not mean that you shouldn’’t be in leadership at all. Both are thoughts that I’’ve had before.

What to Do About These Fears?

Before going any further, let’’s take a look at four fears in particular. These are four fears that I believe many leaders have in common. Some of these are more overt fears than others, but if you have any of them, it could be the reason that you aren’t reaching your potential as a leader.

Do you find that you’’re too comfortable? When it’’s time for change or a new direction, do you resist it in lieu of staying where everything is familiar? If so, this may be a fear for you. Success brings with it new expectations, new problems and new ambiguity. And, that’’s not always appealing to everyone.

When you’’ve experienced success, you may find that you’re asking whether it was worth it. Your event grew by 50% this year, so next year you need to make it grow another 50%. Which will take more people, energy, budget, etc. Fear of success keeps you where it’s comfortable and prevents you from taking the organization forward.

Those fears in my leadership have caused me to make poor decisions, no decisions and late decisions. When I am fearful, I make horrible decisions— because fear blinds me rather than opening my eyes to all of the possibilities. When I am fearful, I make no decisions —because fear causes me to wait rather than act. When I am fearful I make decisions that are far too late to be effective—because fear causes me to hesitate rather than take a step forward.

So, which of these fears do you immediately connect with? We all have them. And I’ve found that talking about them and saying them out loud will actually help us overcome them more easily. I believe there’s more for you … and I don’t want fear to be the thing holding you back.

Reposted with permission. This blog originally appeared here.

4 Ways to Know If You’re a Critical Person

4 Ways to Know If You’re a Critical Person

by Tim Parsons

I’ve really been on a criticism kick lately.  Not giving it out like candy on halloween…but considering the idea of criticism.  I feel like I’ve noticed that we have grown more critical over the last several years.  And we chalk it up to “being helpful” or simply “expecting higher standards.”

But the reality that I’ve noticed is that much of the criticism I see and hear comes from a place of selfishness and personal preferences rather than a place of general good and helping someone or something move to a place of greater effectiveness or impact.

And I’m as guilty as anyone.  I’ve completely bought in.  I am all-in on giving out criticism.  And no one or nothing is off limits.  I’m not proud of it . . . but it’s true.  I’m working on it.

For example, my kids’ school just hired a new principal.  The search has been going on for a few months and they’ve done a good job of keeping us in the loop on what’s going on.  But, they just made the announcement of the new principal.

My first reaction—to criticize their choice. I found that I wanted to immediately point out everything that was wrong and all of the ways that they could have done it better.  If I’m being honest, though . . . those thoughts and feelings were coming from a place of pride. Instead I had to resist that and trust that their process and decision was not only one that was well thought out, but also one that was guided by God.
So, I’ve been thinking lately about myself and others who are critical and how I can help us all evaluate and know if we’re the ones who are critical or not. And here’s what I came up with – 4 ways to know if you’re a critical person:

  1. What’s the goal of the criticism? I’ve found that the motivation for the criticism tells me a lot about whether or not it should be shared. Is the goal rooted in my own preferences or opinions or is it based on something that is truly for the greater good? Do I just want to show how much I know? Do I just want to be right?  Or, is my goal to contribute towards a goal that is noble and God-honoring?
  2. What’s the ratio of criticism to compliments? This question is an interesting one—but I think there is inherent value in it. I truly believe that we should all try our hardest to be encouragers.  And criticism can often be discouraging. But, when there is a higher ratio (or at least a 1:1 ratio) of compliments to criticisms, it can be a little easier for people to swallow. If you find that you criticize someone or something WAY more than you compliment them, you’re probably doing something wrong.
  3. How much consideration have you given to the criticism? I have certainly discovered time and time again that my first reaction to something is usually not as sharp as I imagine it is. But once I take time to think about the criticism (i.e. answering these questions first), I find that I either don’t give criticism at all or I at least fine tune my criticism to be more helpful. If you feel compelled to give criticism, I want to encourage you to take some time to consider it before you speak it.
  4. How close are you to the situation? I can imagine that I am much closer to a situation just because I am a stakeholder in it. Let me say that again in a different way, I find that just because I am connected or impacted by a decision or action, that I feel like I am close enough to it to criticize it. The example for me is the one of my kids’ school and the hiring of the principal.  I am impacted by it, but I have absolutely NO idea how the decision was reached, the competency of the other candidates, or even the talents, skills, and gifts of the guy they picked. So, just because you shop at Walmart, that doesn’t mean that you are close enough to the situation to criticize their decision to move your favorite product from aisle 10 to aisle 22.

How do you rank yourself on giving criticism and generally being a critical person?
Do you have work to do?
We all do.

These four questions will help you evaluate yourself and move closer to being a person that people actually seek out for criticism rather than being the one they run from because all you do is criticize them.

 

Reposted with permission. This article originally appeared here.