By Verdeen Bueckert

Dan wrote of an intense experience with leading change in the last blog – here’s another perspective!

Abbie Lundberg

Abbie Lundberg

Three years ago, I was handed a frightening assignment. An extensive change initiative in my unit at Foothills hospital had stalled, and it was my mission to move it forward.

  1. Change takes Courage – Our staff had bravely given up the familiar, now they were stuck in no-man’s land. We could admit defeat or plod ahead.
  2. Change is Messy – Adjust one thing in an organization and everything else shifts. Chaos is exposed. Disruption and confusion result. Unintended consequences ensue. In this way, change is a catalyst. Like concrete, once culture sets you need a jackhammer to move it again – a good reason to keep change moving when you can still use a trowel. And that’s just one reason…
  3. Change is Exhausting – But so is beating your head against a brick wall.
  4. Change is Uncertain – We had a clear vision but were headed into uncharted territory. We had to experiment and explore, despite limited time and resources.

So why bother? Why not just prop up the status quo? Because it wasn’t working. “Every system is perfectly aligned to achieve the results it gets” (Heifetz and Linsky in Leadership on the Line). Different results don’t come from urging and reminding, policies and paperwork. Realignment is required.

Heifetz and Linsky also observe, “Leadership would be a safe undertaking if your organizations and communities only faced problems for which they already knew the solutions. Every day, people have problems for which they do, in fact have the necessary know-how and procedures. We call these technical problems. But there is a whole host of problems that are not amenable to authoritative expertise or standard operating procedures. They cannot be solved by someone who provides answers from on high. We call these adaptive challenges because they require experiments, new discoveries, and adjustments from numerous places in the organization or community.”

Organizations organize to produce consistent, reliable results. But things change within and outside organizations, necessitating realignment.

  1. Change is Inevitable. We can adapt to it, or be mowed over by it.
  2. Change is Exciting. It opens up new opportunities, develops leaders and inspires hope.
  3. Change Can Conquer Chaos. God works through us to bring order in the world he loves!
  4. Change is an Amazing Spiritual Adventure. God gives a little piece of clarity to someone on the team, a crazy idea leads to a brilliant idea, and we’re moving forward again. What a ride!

Three years later, my vantage point has shifted. The intensity of change has given way to a new culture, and a thriving new community. The vision is coalescing into reality:

  • An effective leadership network is developing.
  • New leaders are empowered to tackle problems.
  • There’s more energy and engagement, less chaos.

Best of all, I’m on an extended vacation, completely at ease with a reliable team to spell me off, curious to discover what they’ll change while I’m gone.

Love change? Or would you rather stick a needle in your eye? Leadership and change can be the adventure of a lifetime with the right preparation. For me, that was CREST:

CREST Year 1: Personal Clarity – Leadership Influence comes from this foundation

CREST Year 2 Certificate: Leadership Clarity – There are better ways to lead.

CREST Masters in Christian Leadership – Learn to navigate complexity, lead change and more.

Speaking of Change…
The local church is a perfect example of an organization immersed change. My parents served in and attended at least nine different programs – sometimes all within one week. Then small groups were added to the mix. Leadership and volunteerism are now being impacted by:

Changes in Time: In the 60’s and 70’s, it cost the average family 3 times its annual income to buy a home. Within the past ten years, home prices jumped to 6-7 times the average annual income. It has always been tough to live on one income. For young families starting out, it’s nigh impossible. Time and energy are consumed by work and household chores.

Changes in Health: The Public Health Agency of Canada tells us 3 out of 5 people over the age of 20 live with chronic issues such as heart disease, stroke, cancer, chronic respiratory diseases and cancer, which impacts their ability to work and participate in community life.

Changes in Resources: In the 70’s, there were 8 adults of working age for every senior (over 65). That number is now 1 in 5, and could be 1 in 2.2 by 2056. The impact on economics, health care and taxation is staggering. Will this become a crisis or an opportunity?

Changes in Leadership: Fewer young people are entering Bible schools, and fewer still are preparing for general pastoral ministry to replace retiring (or tiring) pastors, the majority of which are over 40.

CREST’s initiative for church leadership in light of all this change …

All of this has a huge impact on church leaders. The pressures evidence in pastors as stress. Ministry is much more complicated and challenging today, and pastors need help. Our CREST Leadership program is an effective way for leaders to be guided through an ordered reflection about life and ministry and ways to move forward.

Beyond that, we are in the initial stages of creating a Resilient Leader profile – an online assessment tool that measures a person’s capacities and offers resources to strengthen the leader. Several denominations have expressed interest in pursuing this first-ever tool to measure healthy leadership.