Change is where leaders live. A large part of our responsibility as leaders is to identify when things need to change before they have to change. The ability to anticipate and to lead through healthy change, before painful change is thrust upon us, is the mark of a good leader.
But change is challenging. It’s uncomfortable.
As I’m coaching leaders through change in their teams or organizations, there are two refrains that I consistently echo to them.
The 2 Refrains that Lead to Change
1. Awareness is growth.
While awareness itself is not enough, awareness IS growth. What we were once blind to, we are now conscious of and positioned to do something about.
2. Be patient and persistent.
True growth requires time. Lasting change comes with persistence.
Cultures are not changed overnight. When we’re working with organizations, we prepare them for the reality that organizational culture change can take 3-5 years of patient and persistent progress.
Here’s what we need to remember about culture. Every person influences culture. Culture is made up of the collective influence of everyone who is a part of an organization.
The work that we want to do is going to be patient and persistent work. It’s not (although I wish it were) overnight change.
Culture can be catalyzed in big moments but real, systemic culture change comes on the other side of behavior change. And behavior change is personal. It requires a safe environment to learn, grow, and apply. Behavior change requires new habits. Behavior change requires new rhythms. Behavior change requires commitment and coaching.
It’s not episodic events. An extra day off won’t do it. A staff fun day alone won’t do it. A free lunch alone won’t do it.
What is the change you want to see?
What are the habits and behaviors that you can employ to make the culture shift you want to see?
I wish it was simpler than this. We all want simple answers. We all want to believe that there is one magical thing we could do to create the change we hope for.
There is not.
There is not one thing.
There is not one person.
Culture change happens as person by person begins to embrace the habits and behaviors that reflect the values we collectively choose to uphold.
Start with you. Start with your circle of influence. Change what you DO have influence over and the collective influence of each individual will eventually change the whole.
So as you seek to lead change, don’t get discouraged when you become aware of issues you previously were unaware of. That awareness is growth because you’re now positioned to influence the change. Secondly, be patient and persistent. Change takes time.
Keep leading well!
Jenni Catron and The 4Sight Group
Curious where you may need to grow in awareness in your team culture? Take our free culture blindspot assessment to help you identify one of four areas of culture that may need attention in your organization. Take the assessment here.
Jenni Catron is a writer, speaker, and leadership coach who consults churches and non-profits to help them lead from their extraordinary best. She speaks at conferences and churches nationwide, seeking to help others develop their leadership gifts and lead confidently. As Founder and CEO of The 4Sight Group, she consults with individuals and teams on leadership and organizational health.
Jenni is the author of several books, including Clout: Discover and Unleash Your God-Given Influence and The 4 Dimensions of Extraordinary Leadership.