The Primary Reason People Resist Change

By | Change, Innovation, Leadership | No Comments

After years of leading change, I’ve discovered every change will face resistance. All change. And there is a primary reason people resist change. I believe it is the number one reason.

No one who has ever led change would disagree with my discovery. Regardless of the change someone will not agree with it – at least initially. It’s almost human nature at work. There is something in all of us, which initially resists change we didn’t initiate.

If there is one primary reason people resist change, would it be helpful to know?

Understanding this can help a leader navigate through change. Ignoring it makes the process of change miserable for everyone – and often keeps the change process from being effective.

What’s the most common reason change is resisted?

It’s an emotion people feel. An emotional response is the primary reason people resist change.

They may not even be able to describe what they are feeling, but the emotion is more powerful at the time than the excitement the change may bring.

It may not even be the emotions we naturally think. We may assume people feel anger, confusion, or fear. And while those are often true emotions of change, in my observation those aren’t the most common or at least initial emotions.

There is one emotion which comes first and impacts all the others. 

What is the most common emotion which causes resistance to change?

People resist change because of a sense of loss.

There you have it – and must understand it. People emotionally feel a sense of loss in the process of change.

Have you ever felt like you were losing or had lost something?

How did you react? Didn’t you try to hold on to whatever you were losing? Did your blood pressure rise a bit? Did you “feel” something?

That’s what people feel in the initial days of change. It’s not usually a good feeling emotion.

And translate that sense of loss into the organizational context. 

Here’s a list (not exhaustive) of what people feel they might be losing when you first introduce change:

  • Power
  • Comfort
  • Control
  • Information
  • Familiarity
  • Tradition
  • Stability

Add your own, but people resist change because those emotions are very real to them.

Rational or not, true or not, and it doesn’t even matter if people know the change is needed. As you know, emotions are not dictated by reality.

Things are changing. So, they feel they are losing something in the change and it causes them to resist the change.

Therefore, as a leader, if I understand what people are struggling with I’m better prepared to lead them through it. Some people are never going to get on board with the change, but many times people just need someone to at least acknowledge their sense of loss. It doesn’t eliminate the emotion, but genuine empathy allows me to keep leading.

The great news from my pastor/leader friends is you already know how to assist people deal with a sense of loss.

Consequently, when a leader discounts or ignores a person’s emotions the resistance becomes more intense, because the emotions become more intense. This is actually when some of those other emotions – like anger – are often added. The process of change is then stalled and sometimes even derailed.

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7 Things Which Weaken My Leadership

By | Church, Innovation, Leadership | One Comment

There are times I’m a better leader than other times. Over the years, I’ve observed that many times there are things that simply weaken my leadership. When I allow these things to get in the way I am less effective as a leader.

Sometimes this is my fault. Other times the cause is unavoidable.

If we can identify what interrupts the effectiveness of our leadership, we can become better leaders. One of my goals is to consistently find ways to guard against them.

7 things which weaken my leadership:

Needless Distractions

As leaders, we do our best work when we are pointing people toward worthy visions. Some would say this is precisely what leadership does. It’s easy to get distracted with things which, while they may be good things, don’t help move the organization towards the vision. In fact, they delay progress towards the vision.

I’ve also learned I need to be leading in my strengths. If I ever get weak in my courage to say no to some things, the quality of my yes will be far less valuable.

Personal Lack of Discipline

It matters not if there is a great vision if I don’t discipline myself to help the team reach it. This includes making sure we have good plans and goals. We need good objectives and results, with the proper systems and strategies to accomplish them.

Granted, I don’t have to do all of this – and I can’t but it is part of my role to see that this is happening.

Ceasing to Learn Something New

Leading others to grow requires leaders who are growing. When I stop creatively feeding my mind, I cease to have anything new to offer our team. And life (and our organizations/church) can become stale – quickly. Whether through books, podcasts, conferences or other leaders, I must find ways to continue learning and stretching myself.

Allowing Negative Influences to Rule

It’s hard to be the only positive in a room full of negatives. Sometimes as a leader, I’ve felt like more cheerleader than coach. It’s one reason I like to surround myself with people who have a good outlook on life. I don’t want all “yes” people, but if everything is always an immediate “no” – or “I don’t like it because it’s not how we’ve always done things” – it is draining. Eventually it is only going to bring down the strength of my leadership and ultimately the rest of the team.

Living in Fear

Risk is involved in every leadership decision. And I meant every. Leadership is taking people to an unknown. This always involves risk. Every time. And every risk involves a certain level of fear. This is completely natural.

Fear keeps leaders from moving forward when they allow the fear to dominate the decision more than the opportunity of the risk.

Personal Pride

Pride goes before the fall. Pride destroys. I would offer that absolute pride destroys absolutely. Okay, I embellished this popular saying to further a point.

Prideful leaders are always weakened by their pride. No one truly follows a prideful leader. They may obey, may even be infatuated for a season, but they don’t follow.

Complacency and Contentment with Status Quo

Leadership involves a sense of urgency. When we lose this we lose the inner drive to lead well. We become weakened by our own loss of personal momentum.

Resting on Past (or current) Success

All of us love to succeed. I think attempting to is a pretty good goal. We might even plan for it – what a novel idea. Sadly, though, sometimes a little success can usher in complacency. We can begin to think we’ve figured out a system to success.

Before long, we don’t think we have to be intentional anymore – maybe not even have to try as hard as we used to try. We can become weak quickly by our own delusions of grandeur.

Those are a few things which weaken my leadership. I try to guard against them.

Join Nate and I for the Ron Edmondson Leadership Podcast. And subscribe now, so you won’t miss the next one.

5 Ways to Make New Year’s Resolutions You Will Actually Keep

By | Change, Christians, Culture, Encouragement, Innovation, Leadership, Life Plan | No Comments

Sometimes I call them challenges, because people resist the phrase resolutions, but I believe you can make resolutions and actually keep them.

Here’s the thing. I love a fresh start.

Perhaps it’s because grace is the doctrine I’ve needed so much, but there’s something about a clean slate, which motivates me towards achievement.

I’m like this with my desk at the office. I create stacks. Magazines to be read. Notes to be written. Lists to be completed. Bulletins from other churches. (I am always looking for better ideas.) Stacks, stacks, and more stacks. When the stacks are at capacity – I call it organized chaos.

Then one day I’ve had enough of the stacks and I go on a cleaning spree. I sort, file and trash until the top of my desk shows far more wood than paper. And I’m inspired to work again.

I love a fresh start.

I think this may be why I’m one of the people who appreciates New Year’s resolutions. It’s like a line on the calendar, which screams to me: FRESH START!

But, as much as I appreciate the value in them – beginning new things, stretching myself, making my life better – I’m like everyone else. I find it easier to make resolutions than to keep them.

How do we make resolutions we will actually keep?

Because resolutions – even the strongest ones – aren’t going to improve anything if you don’t follow through with them. In fact, they probably just make you more frustrated than before you made them. Who needs more frustration?

So, what can you do? Let me try to help. 

First, write them down. This is huge. I’ve heard people say you are twice as likely to keep a written resolution than one you simply state in your mind.

Second, try not to have too many. You will be overwhelmed and give up before you start.

And, then, here are some ways to make the type of resolutions which you can keep. This help me.

5 ways to make resolutions you can actually keep:

Reasonable

Another word might be attainable. The resolution must make sense for you to actually be able to do this year. Saying you want to read 50 books in a year – because you heard someone else does it – and, yet you didn’t read any this past year is probably going to be a stretch. You might be able to do it, but it likely isn’t a reasonable goal.

Don’t be afraid of small beginnings (Zechariah 4:10). The key is you’re trying to achieve something, which makes your life better. If you’re successful this year you can set a higher goal next year.

Measurable

To be successful in keeping a resolution you need some way to monitor success towards it – certainly a way to know when you’ve achieved it. If your resolution is simply to lose weight you won’t be as motivated as if you say you want to lose a pound a week. You can track that goal and see your progress.

Obviously it will still require discipline, but there is something about a measurable goal which – for most of us – drives us to meet it.

Sustainable

This one doesn’t apply for every resolution, but does in many. Ultimately I have found I’m more motivated to reach goals, which change my life for the better over a longer period of time. It’s great to meet those milestone, once in a lifetime type of achievements – such as running a marathon, or writing a book.

And we should have those type goals in our life – and maybe a milestone resolution is reasonable for you this year. The problem I have seen is if we get off track on reaching them it’s easy to simply give up – maybe even write it off as an unreasonable goal. We feel defeated and so we quit making any resolutions.

In making New Year’s resolutions, I find I’m more successful if it’s something which I possibly adopt as a new lifestyle. Some examples would be changing my eating habits, beginning to exercise more often, Bible-reading, journaling, etc – again reasonable and measurable – but something I will sustain beyond the New Year.

Accountable

This is key. Weight Watchers is a great example here of this principle. There is something about their system, which works, and part of it is the reporting portion – where you have to be accountable to others for your progress.

If you don’t build in a system of accountability – whether it’s with other people or some visible reminder of your resolution and progress – it’s easy to give up when the New Year euphoria begins to fade.

Reward-able

This may be the most important and the least practiced. One secret to actually achieving your resolution may be to find the “carrot”, which will continually motivate you to stretch for the finish line.

If losing weight is a goal it could be a new suit or dress when you reach a pre-determined number. Running a marathon is your goal? If this is a reasonable resolution for you this year it could be you run the marathon in some destination city you can’t wait to visit. If it’s reading your Bible through in a year – promise yourself a new Bible at the end of the year.

The reward should fit the degree of stretching and effort it took to accomplish the resolution. This often serves as a good incentive to helping you reach your goals – especially during the times you are tempting to quit trying.

I hope this will help. It does for me.

I have some daily disciplines in my life now, which started as New Year’s resolutions. It doesn’t work for everyone, but I’ve found resolutions can help me start the year with fresh goals, and the discipline towards achieving them helps me have more discipline in other areas of my life.

Here’s to a great New Year! God bless!

5 Ways Leadership Can’t Be “Normal” Anymore

By | Business, Church Planting, Innovation, Leadership | One Comment

If an organization wishes to be successful today, it must learn to think outside the once considered normal lines of leadership. Research after research has been done and book after book has been written on the subject of leadership being as much these days about the informal aspects of leadership as it is the formal aspects of leadership. In addition to a set of rules, policies and procedures, for a leader to be successful today, he or she must engage a team to help accomplish the vision of the organization. In an informal leadership environment, the way a leader leads is often more important than the knowledge or management abilities of the leader. That may have always been important, but now it is critical.

Here are 5 examples of how a successful leader must lead in today’s environment:

Read More

7 Things 2020 Has NOT Changed About Leadership

By | Change, Church, Innovation, Leadership | One Comment

This has been a frustrating year in leadership. 2020 has been challenging for all of us. It has been especially challenging for leaders trying to navigate their organizations through it. That includes pastors and the church. Yet, as I reflect on some of the decisions I have personally had to make this year, I realize some things 2020 didn’t change about leadership.

Some things have always been a part of leadership.

7 things 2020 didn’t change about leadership:

Uncertainty. This isn’t the first time leaders have faced uncertain times. Sure, this year has caused us to make decisions we’ve never made before, but that is not a new leadership phenomenon. In fact, leadership by definition is leading into uncertain futures.

Necessity of risk. Honestly, I feel like some of us may have gotten too comfortable prior to COVID-19. It became easy to work our systems and programs, and even if growth had plateaued, budgets were being met and people were satisfied. But status quo will never realize new growth. Risk is always a part of the getting to the next level of progress.

Need for innovation. One of the funniest quotes I ever read is something Andy Andrews has written. “Think about this: we put men on the moon before we thought to put wheels on luggage.” Leadership by definition has always required that we be innovating as we discover what’s around the corner for our teams.

Diverse reactions to decisions made. Every decision ever made by a leader has made some people really happy and some people not. Again, that’s Leadership 101.

New opportunities for growth. Growth seldom comes without an intentional effort. It requires strategy planning, goal-setting, and diligent efforts on behalf of a team working together. 2020 has given us plenty of chances for that.

Greater success comes from collaboration. “With many advisors plans succeed.” (Proverbs 15:22) The pandemic forced many of us leaders to reach out for help, form teams, and work together – things great leaders have always done.

Need for healthier rhythms. Whew. Are you as tired as I am at the end of 2020? If anything resonates with leaders today it is that they are challenged more than any other year in leadership. I am not sure this will ever completely disappear – or that it’s ever not been the case. One thing is certain, however, even when things return to whatever normal looks like in the future we will need healthy rhythms to keep leading well.

What else has NOT changed about leadership in 2020?

I am not pretending this hasn’t been an unusual year. It is (at least one of) the most difficult I’ve experienced in leadership. But one thing it has done is expose to us what we’ve always known. We need good leaders – and good leadership.

Nate and I have finished our fall semester at the Ron Edmondson Leadership Podcast. New episodes will begin in early 2021. Subscribe now so you don’t miss the next one.

7 Traits Needed to Effectively Lead Change

By | Change, Church, Church Revitalization, Innovation, Leadership | No Comments

If you want to be in leadership get comfortable with change. The best leaders have the traits to effectively lead change.

Every leader deals with change, but in my experience, some handle it better than others. There are change agent leaders who seem to have an innate gifting at leading through change.

I’ve observed some common traits needed to effectively lead change.

7 traits for effectively lead change:

Flexibility

It doesn’t have to be your design. You simply want progress towards the overall vision. You are never stubborn on matters that seem to have no vision-altering value. Instead, you navigate towards a solution, letting others have “their” way. Everyone walks away feeling as though they have won.

Courage

Effectively leading change means you are willing to receive criticism and still move forward. You know how to filter through what is valid criticism – worth hearing – and what’s simply a venting of personal interest. Because of this you unwaveringly push through the junk which clouds progress.

Relational

You value the opinions of other people and work hard to gain their trust. Knowing that ultimate change can’t happen without human capital, you are constantly investing in relationships. Networking is one of a change agents greatest tools.

Strategic

You realize there are steps to take and carefully choose the timing of when to take them. It is like you have a keen sense of discernment when it comes to knowing when to pull the trigger, when to wait, and when to pull the plug completely.

Creative

You are able to see paths to success others can’t yet see. Change often happens because someone chose to be creative – even when it might not mesh with current structures. Effective change is one of the best forms of art in the field of leadership. This takes creativity.

Intentional

You make change for a specific purpose and never waste a change. Since you know that every change has the potential to make or break a team, you work diligently to bring the best results.

Thorough

You follow through on commitments made and sees the change to fruition. You don’t give up until the post evaluation is complete and the lessons of change have been learned.

Think about your experience. Who are some of the best leaders who could effectively lead change?

Check out our new podcast where we unpack many of these issues – and add real stories to illustrate them.

7 Ways to Encourage a Team to Be More Innovative

By | Church, Church Planting, Church Revitalization, Innovation, Leadership | No Comments

Most leaders want to lead an innovative organization.

If you are like me, you don’t necessarily have to be the first to do something new, but you don’t want to be years behind either. We want to be “cutting edge” to some degree. Certainly, we don’t want to be stuck in the last decade.

But as leaders, we can’t force innovation.

We can’t mandate our people to be innovative. And the longer people haven’t been innovative, the the more difficult it is to get them innovating again.

Innovation, in its purest form means change. Change can be forced upon people, but the best changes come from the heart of a person.

Great innovation comes from the gut.

There are things leaders can do to encourage team members to be more innovative.

Here are a 7 easy ways to encourage innovation:

Get away from the office as a team.

There is something about a change in surroundings which encourages changes in thought. Creative thoughts are often fueled better outside your normal environment.

We have held brainstorming retreats at other churches in our area and local businesses. Again, the change of place often fuels a change of thought.

Have a brainstorming session with open-ended questions.

Questions can be gold for fueling ideas and creativity. Ask questions such as, “What are we doing well?” “Where could we improve?” “What should we stop doing?”

Be sure to welcome diversity of thought. Create an environment where innovation and outside-the-box thinking is acceptable.

Reward new ideas.

Recognize new thoughts and celebrate the success of innovation and people will want more of it. Make it a part of the DNA to elevate the value of innovation.

Make sure to build time to dream into your schedule as a leader. Teams I lead learn soon that when I travel I return with some fresh perspective – even some wild ideas.

Have times together as a team that are simply fun.

Something magical happens when you get people who work together out of the work zone and into a fun zone. They often still talk work – it’s what they share in common – but they share work in a more innovative and productive way.

Remove obstacles to innovative thought.

There are always communication barriers between team members and senior leadership. Discovering and eliminating them could be an innovation waterfall.

One way is to get in the room and have a real problem which needs to be solved and not already have the answers. Let the answers emerge. People love to solve a problem.

Invite new (different) people to the table.

It could be different people on the team or people from the community, but new people equals new ideas. And make sure they are people who may not look like the rest of the team. We’ve often brought staff spouses to the table to fuel our thoughts. The idea here is to glean from other voices.

Set innovation timeline goals.

If you want to eventually build a new website, for example, put a date on the calendar for when it MUST be completed. It’s amazing how creative we often become under a deadline.

What are some ideas you have to encourage innovation?

How Ideas Are Received On A Healthy Team

By | Church, Church Revitalization, Innovation, Leadership | One Comment

Healthy teams allow every idea a chance to live. Initially, there are no bad ideas.

The healthiest teams don’t contain a built in idea killer or a system that shuts them down before their time.

That’s because good leaders know ideas need a chance to breathe. They need to be stretched and prodded and examined. The best ideas sometimes often come from what started as a seemingly bad idea.

Genius ideas may often be killed before they have a chance to develop into their greatness.

I once had a serial entrepreneur (with over 200 successful startups he was a part of at some level) tell me he never met a bad idea. He just keeps tweaking the idea until it works.

That’s why healthy teams have freedom and regularly:

  • Brainstorm
  • Analyze
  • Test drive
  • Push back
  • Critique
  • Debate
  • Challenge
  • Collaborate 
  • Dialogue 
  • Listen
  • Discuss 

Every. Single. Idea. 

Healthy teams remain open-minded about an idea until it’s proven to be a bad idea or there’s no way to make it a good idea. And never before.

It doesn’t have to be a long process. It could be a short process. Some ideas don’t take long to discern.

AN EXAMPLE

One time we were trying to find ways to get new people to our new church plant. In a brainstorming session, an extremely creative, often off the wall idea guy blurted out, “Let’s give free monkeys to the first 100 people on a Sunday!” He was serious. And he meant live monkeys; the kind you find at the zoo.

It didn’t take long to get through that idea, but the point is he felt free sharing his most random idea. And we landed that while monkeys may not be the gift, perhaps there was some gift we could give our visitors. I think we landed on coffee mugs. (Even now I wish we had at least painted a monkey on the side of them.)

The point is healthy teams give every idea a chance to live.

That is because healthy teams know there is value in the collection of ideas on a team. And they are willing to flesh them out to the best ideas.

Leader, next time your team gets together open the floor of discussion to ideas, let everyone put ALL their ideas on the table. Make sure there is no fear of embarrassment or retribution. Watch for collective brilliance to develop .

5 Personal Reflection Questions to End a Year and Start Another

By | Innovation, Leadership, Life Plan | No Comments

I’m a reflective person. This time of year, when we start to see all the “best of” reflections online and in the news, I like to do my own personal reflection. How was the year? What can we learn from it? How can I do better next year?

I think its a great exercise. 

Perhaps you need a little help getting started. Take a couple hours over the next week or so – get alone – and reflect.

Here are five questions to get you started:

What was great?

List some of the highlights of your year. What gave you the most pleasure in life? Make sure they merit repeating – sin can have an immediate pleasure – but plan ways to rekindle those emotions in the new year. Most likely they involve relationships. The new year is a great time to plan some intentional efforts to strengthen relationships – spend more time with family and friends.

Maybe you enjoyed the times you spent writing. Take some intentional steps to discipline yourself to do that more. Remember how good it felt that day you served people less fortunate than yourself? Well, now you know something you need to do more of in the new year.

What wasn’t great?

Think of some things that are draining to you personally. Again, it may be some relationship in your life. It could be a job or a physical ailment. It could also be that whatever it is that isn’t great has been around for more than a single year. But chances are you’ve never taken the hard steps to do something about it. Sometimes recognizing those things is the first step to doing something about them. (Your answer may be that a relationship has ended – and there’s nothing you can do about it. Maybe this is your year to move forward again – even in spite of the pain.) Could this be the year?

What can be improved?

Sometimes it isn’t about quitting, but working to make something better that makes all the difference. Intentionality can sometimes take something you dread and make it something you enjoy. I’ve seen couples who appeared destined for divorce court turn into a thriving marriage when two willing spouses commit to working harder (and getting outside help if needed).

I was out of shape in my mid-thirties. I’m healthier today in my 50’s than I was then. The change began in one year – one decision – one intentional effort. Conventional wisdom says a new habit begins in 21 days, but some now believe it may take as long as 66 days to really get a habit to stick. But would it be worth it if you really began a daily Bible reading habit? Or the gym really was a part of your life more than just the first couple weeks in January? Maybe this is your year to get serious about improving some area of your life.

What do I need to stop?

Maybe you need to stop caring so much what other people think. Maybe you need to stop overeating. Perhaps you need to stop worrying far more than you pray. It could be you need to stop believing the lies the enemy tries to place in your mind. Maybe you need to stop living someone else’s life – and start living the life God has called you to.

Perhaps you need to stop delaying the risk – and go for it! Most of us need to stop procrastinating. Do you get the idea? Sometimes one good stop can make all the difference. What do you need to stop doing this year, so you can reflect on this year as your best year ever? Start stopping today!

What do I need to start? 

Think of something you know you need to do, but so far you’ve only thought about it. Maybe you started before but never committed long enough to see it become reality. Often, in my experience, we quit just before the turn comes that would have seen us to victory. Is this the year you write the book? Is this the year you pursue the dream?

Could this be the year you mend the broken relationship? What would the year be like if you finish the degree? Is this the year you get serious about your financial well-being – planning for the future? Maybe this is the year you surrender your will to God’s will – and follow through on what you know He’s been asking you to do? Perhaps getting active in church is your needed start this year. Start starting today!

Five questions. 

When I’m answering questions like this, I like to apply them to each area of my life – spiritual, physical, relational, personal, financial, etc. Reflect on your life with God, with others, and with yourself. This can be a powerful exercise. 

Try answering some of these questions and see how they help you start your best year ever!