Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Jesus and Organizational Change Part I: Get Off Your Throne & Serve!

Posted by Todd VanNest on Tue, Jun 19, 2012

In last week’s post “Don’t be Nice..”, I commented on how to truly serve others in Leading Change by doing more than being supportive and a good listener (reactive).  You have to create the cognitive tension and self-assessment that engages both hearts and minds—allowing others to critically evaluate status quo as part of committing to the future (new mindsets and new practices).  By citing Servant Leadership, I prompted the following question in my mind:  What would Jesus do?

You’ve seen books on “Jesus as CEO” and the WWJD acronym stitched or etched into everything from wristbands to stone outcroppings in national parks.  My question here is not about preachin’ a Christian way or meant as blasphemy (by making the teachings of Christ mundane and of-this-world).  I do think that there are some practical lessons in thinking about how Jesus led change (whether to you He is your savior, an interesting person of history, or the product of a great novel).  I am certain that by selectively highlighting the things I’m speaking of in this 2-part post I am doing His leadership a great injustice, but I do regard even these small things as great gifts.

Today, in Part 1, I am highlighting the role of service in change leadership.

  • “You know that the rulers in this world lord it over their people, and officials flaunt their authority over those under them. But among you it will be different. Whoever wants to be a leader among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first among you must be the slave of everyone else. For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many.” – (Mark 10:42-45)

Wow!...Leading change, and being appointed as a leader for guiding an organization through complex change is heady work…just don’t let it go to your head!

Out of this perspective, I offer two reflections for Change Leaders:

  • What tools and processes prescribed in modern approaches to organizational change have become the “trappings of the office” that might potentially distract me from fully, genuinely, and in-the-moment engaging the stakeholders of this change process? And
  • I’m sure that almost every Change Leader has, at some point, felt like a slave.  The question is, are you a slave to others or are you a slave to the process, politics, and promotion that defines “change management?”

At times, we feel like a slave to others—typically because our own approach to driving change is actually fueling or sustaining the resistance that we blame for making us a slave.  In reality, we have often sold-out others, forsaking them and authentic engagement with them in favor of serving a “program” or getting to some almighty “result.” When working with Change Teams to help them recover a stalled or failing change initiative, I often find that they start to recover the change effort when they realize that a bit more engagement early in the process would have actually saved them time and accelerated the realization of results—relative to where they find themselves at the moment (behind schedule and struggling to produce the promised results, having forsaken timely and genuine engagement).

  • WWJD?...Now THAT’s a heady challenge!  Look for more powerful reflections in Part 2 of this post in the coming days.

One way to serve others through change is to help them find meaning in change and make it more simple.

Last Word on Change

More on leading change simply: http://www.lastwordonchange.com/simple-solution

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