How are you functioning as a change agent in your organization? Are you stuck and working straight by the book in the old culture? Are you radically making the shift and functioning straight down the middle of your picture of the ideal, new culture? Or have you found some way to do the dance of transformational leadership that discerns the most helpful work in each situation - able to be bi-cultural and function well enough in the existing system to succeed and build trust while also creating enough new and adaptive changes to move into a new way of working together?
I often meet with church leaders, pastors and laity, who have started to understand the role of being a missional leader in a new way that centers around being part of what God is up to. In coaching these leaders I often hear the same thing said again and again: "They are going to have to understand that I am going to be a missional leader now. I'm not going to be in the hospital or at their homes holding their hands like I used to." Half of me wants you cheer, "Hurray!" when I hear that. The other half cringes in fear that the baby may be getting tossed out with the bath water.
Adaptive leaders know what actions lie on the surface of a culture and are technical and these leaders may even be a part of sustaining them in the short-term. They also know the kind of deep changes that are adaptive and make for real and lasting change and help the system move toward owning those. Ron Heifetz has done great work helping leaders understand the differences and then sort out strategies for lasting change. As I watch the most skillful leaders, they are bi-cultural, aware and able to act intentionally in some technical aspects of the old while also working adaptively and moving the core toward the new. Eventually the new culture will generate technical aspects of its own - hopefully helpful ones in sustaining the new core against the tide of regression that impacts many newly changed systems.
Effective leaders are able to funciton bi-culturally. Yes, these leaders carve new ideas, pictures, actions and instigate all sorts of things to help the system tip into a new and more vital place. But the best leaders know that while it isn't just the pastor's job to visit the sick and shut-in, it also isn't NOT the pastor's job either. Missional leaders don't do work that matters by somehow saying that caring for sick and lonely people is beneath them. They reframe their work, change conversations, share visiting by equipping others to care and visit as well and move from the magical visitor "par excellence" to a leader of a community of people who share and care as a part of who they are.
Here are a few questions to ask yourself:
- What core functions are in your current job description that people assume are yours, and only yours?
- How can you envision (alone and with others ) these being done differently?
- Who needs to be brought on board and be part of such a decision?
- What training or skills need to be present for others to join in successfully?
- What would your appropriate role be when the system has changed?
- How will you function effectively in the old system while tipping it toward a new one?
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