Building Support for Change
One of the clear measures of leadership is the ability to secure a commitment to the vision strong enough that people are willing to give their time, energy, and resources to see the vision realized. Develop a critical mass of support for the change.
Some helpful actions in building support include the following:
Communicate twice as much as you think is necessary.
Communicate the vision clearly and passionately so that people can understand it and will be excited about seeing it fulfilled. Clear, frequent communication will help alleviate a crucial source of resistance- uncertainty about the future.
Model your own commitment to the changes required to fulfill the vision.
This relates to the issue of trust. When asked to commit themselves, their time, their resources, people will follow only those leaders in whom they have a high degree of trust. One of the most important ways that a leader builds that trust is to demonstrate his or her own commitment to the vision. This was at the heart of Peter’s exhortation to the elders when he called upon them to be examples to those in the church (1Peter 5.1-3). Trust in the leader builds the confidence that diminishes the insecurity associated with change.
Build a team.
Team building for change starts with those who are asked to be a part of the visioning team. These visioning team members, respected as they are in the congregation, need to be the first “sponsors” of the change. Beyond the initial visioning team, recruit other respected and influential people to join together to advance the vision. Ask yourself, “Whose help is critical to have in order for us to realize the vision?”
Concerning the visioning team, develop a group of a size to enable reasonable representation of the congregation while still enabling discussion and decision making. Members of the group must be highly respected by the congregation and in touch with a sizeable segment of the congregation. The goal is not to try to blend every group’s views into the result, but it is critical to be aware of the various groups in the church as the process develops.
As sponsors, team members will sanction change, letting others know that the change is important enough to justify the initial difficulty it will bring. Sponsors legitimatize the change.
Any worthwhile vision will require great, focused effort over a long period of time. Team members will add their unique gifts and strengths to the process and be able to share the load and encourage each other for the long haul.
Celebrate every success that helps fulfill the vision.
Celebrate or recognize with approval every action that helps make progress toward fulfilling the vision. Give public commendation as progress is made; celebrate all “wins,” big and small; have public celebrations when goals are achieved; express personal appreciation to those who work to fulfill the vision.
This post is based on a portion of Andrew Seidel’s work Charting A Bold Course: Training Leaders for 21st Century Ministry. For more information on this title and for many other leadership resources, visit our Resource Center today!
About the Contributors
Andrew B. Seidel
Dr. Andrew B. Seidel served as executive director of the Hendricks Center at Dallas Seminary for fifteen years, which provides leadership training and development for seminary students as well as ministry and business leaders. A graduate of West Point and a colonel in the U.S. Army, Dr. Seidel was senior pastor at Grace Bible Church in College Station, Texas, for fourteen years. He left the pastorate to provide leadership training for pastors on the mission field in Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union. Today he continues to work in Russia, Eastern Europe, and Central Asia with Entrust (formerly BEE International). The author of Charting a Bold Course; Training Leaders for 21st Century Ministry, Dr. Seidel and his wife Gail Norris Seidel have been married for more than fifty years and have two married children and six grandchildren.