Leadership Letters
Leadership Letters

Writings on Christian leadership and leader development by Malcolm Webber

January 2000
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A Model of Planned Change – Part 2

Malcolm WebberMalcolm Webber

Leading significant change is one of the most demanding of leadership tasks. In “Leading Change,” John Kotter presents an eight-stage model of planned change. The last Letter dealt with the first stage: establish a sense of urgency. This Letter examines the second stage of the model.

2. Create a Guiding Coalition.

It is dangerous to think that a single leader can pull off major organizational change single-handed. The task of persuading people to support major change is never easy, and it is too big a job for a single leader to accomplish alone. Successful change in an organization requires cooperative effort by people who have the power to facilitate or block change.

The leaders must build a team of “change supporters” both inside and outside the organization. These should come not only from the top leadership, but also from among middle and lower levels of management. This team must share the commitment to the need and possibilities for organizational transformation, and they will guide the change process.

Eight key characteristics are essential to effective guiding coalitions:

1. Prayer. The team that prays together will not only have a clearer understanding of the nature and process of the change, but will also carry a stronger spiritual anointing to facilitate it.

2. Submission to the will of God. The leaders must humbly and genuinely submit themselves to God’s will for the organization. It is not enough merely to ask God to bless our proposed changes; we must be sure they are His proposals first.

3. Key leaders. The key players in the organization need to be on board. Sometimes people will work to block change simply because they were not a part of the original guiding coalition.

4. Expertise. No one individual has sufficient information to make all the major decisions. Represented in the team should be all the various points of view relevant to the situation – in terms of discipline, experience, age, nationality, gender, etc.

5. Credibility. Again, no single individual has sufficient credibility to convince all the constituents to implement the decisions. Team members must possess good reputations and be trusted and taken seriously.

6. Leadership. The team must include enough proven leaders to be able to drive the change process. Of course, management skills are also needed on the team.

7. Integrity. Personal problems that can be ignored during easy times can cause serious trouble in harder, faster-moving times. People with large egos who do not realize their own weaknesses and limitations or appreciate the strengths of others, and also people who create mistrust by playing people against each other should not be considered for such a team.

8. Trust. When people trust each other, creating a common goal and strategy becomes possible. Frequent and open communication helps build this necessary trust; and to maintain it, rumors that might erode goodwill between team members must be confronted immediately and candidly.

The next Leadership Letter will describe the third stage of implementing change: develop a compelling vision and strategy.

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