If You Don’t Make a Difference, Then Who Will?
I first met Will Willimon when he arrived at the North Alabama Conference of the United Methodist Church. He was the new bishop in 2004. I called him up, representing the church musicians in the Conference, and advised him that church musicians should be involved in planning the 5 worship services normally held during this multi-day event.
In years past, the services were planned by clergy. There was no representation from church musicians in the planning process. The clergy chose the music and then called on the old faithful to participate, typically at the last minute.
With staff help, I pulled together a skilled team of professionals who were passionate about the project, and began the planning process. I was a subject matter expert, since I had done this at a very high level for almost 40 years, however, the history and traditions of this project were beyond the scope of my knowledge and experience, so I needed a highly skilled team.
The end of the story is that I became the facilitator of the planning process. I served in that role for two years, until I moved to Virginia to get married and begin the current chapter of my life.
This story is not about me or my facilitation skills. This story is about one person being an influence on change – positive change.
Here’s how stepping up as a leader is important:
- Define the Gap: I saw a problem and had enough passion about facilitating a change, so I connected with the person responsible for the outcome. I didn’t complain. I offered a solution to the gap. The person was able to hear me because I addressed the facts and offered a logical alternative to what had been done previously. I was not combative. I was not critical. I remained calm, and engaged in meaningful conversation about the facts and the process. First and foremost, leadership is about meaningful relationships.
- Define the Solution: As stated above, I had given thought to the situation, defined the gaps (problems, obstacles, etc.), and then created potential solutions for each. My not showing up as a critic, but as a problem solver, allowed the person in charge to listen differently. No matter where the person is in the organizational chart, it’s still important to engage that person in meaningful conversation. Most of us don’t want to change – we are stuck in the status quo. Even if you are ultimately in charge, it’s important to engage and influence team members for embracing change.
- Define the Process: Nothing will happen automatically. Define the end result and then plan backwards. Plan the steps to get to the end result. Leaders understand how things happen. If you don’t know, then figure it out.
- Define the Team: If you want the best results, then get the best team. Define the skills and experience needed and then find people to fill those positions. Don’t settle for “average” in people if you want better than average results. You influence the team that creates the outcomes. Rehearse for excellence with the best people.
- Define the Deliverables: Be clear. Be very clear on what the end result looks like. You have envisioned the process to arrive at these deliverables, however, the team will convene and create the action plan to implement the process. Be clear about the end result. Then let the team work. Get out of the way.
Most people think about the gaps, however, very few step up and do anything about it.
Where will you step up and why?
The Transformational Leadership Strategist
(c) 2012 Hugh Ballou. All rights reserved.