The 4 Stages of Change and How You Can Lead Strongly Through Them

Change is hard, isn’t it? I mean have you ever tried to bend a dime? Ha! But seriously, change is really hard to deal with and sometimes even harder to manage and lead through. Just ask my wife – I don’t like change very much and I’m guessing you don’t either. 

But, much like death and taxes, change is inevitable. As Godly Leaders, we have a choice to make when change is in our midst – embrace it or fight it. I choose to embrace it realizing that I serve a Sovereign God who is in the middle of that change and leading to a better future. 

I have found that change has 4 definitive stages. The sooner we recognize those stages and lead through them, much like the stages of grief, the greater and stronger Godly Leadership we can provide in our homes, businesses, churches and organizations. 

The First Stage is FORMING. This stage is when the new person, event, situation, etc is coming into form. A new baby could enter a family, a new employee could enter the work environment, a new situation could be present in a relationship and the list goes on. It is Essential in this stage to Lead in anticipation, hope, expectancy and joy. Isaiah 43:19 says, “Behold I am doing a new thing, do you not perceive it. I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.” Leader, cast the vision of the preferred future so that those you lead are comforted and excited about what is to come. 

The Second Stage is STORMING. Again, change is hard. People can even want change and yet when it comes, it’s hard. Change brings uncertainty. It takes away comfort. It causes there to be friction internally and, at times, externally in relationships or situations. It is Essential for the Godly Leader to continue to cast the vision of the preferred future, acknowledge what is taking place and challenge those you lead to look at where they are through a lens that is bigger than themselves. It’s so easy in this stage to question the change, question the vision and to speak out loud the 7 last words of any dieing organization, business or church. Go ahead, say them with me – “We’ve never done it that way before.” Ok – now that you’ve said those words, never say them again.

The Third Stage is NORMING. Think of life with a new baby. Before you know it, you’re used to changing diapers and getting up at 3am. Well maybe not! But the new employee is known and understood in this stage, the new situation is becoming a new norm, you can see the progress that is being made and more. A new normal, and very often a better normal, begins to emerge. It may have taken longer than you would have liked, but the new normal arrives before you know it. 

The Fourth Stage is PERFORMING. When a new sports team is put together they don’t just start winning. The teams need to understand the new coach, the new system and the new teammates. When they arrive at stage four they start winning – it all starts to click. In this stage new parents begin to get into a rhythm that works well for them. In this stage, a new leader will see his or her vision start to create better widgets or systems or results. This stage is what makes the first three stages worth it. This is what Isaiah 43 was pointing to – streams in the wasteland. The streams have arrived. The water is flowing. 

Godly Leader don’t be fearful or desperate or quiet during change. Boldly and strongly point people to the Sovereign God of the universe and let those you Lead understand the stages of the process and the end result of improvement that is coming. You may not be able to bend a dime, but you can change a mind and God can change a heart. Godly Leader, it is possible and Essential that you Lead strongly to that end. I believe in you!

We could talk a lot more on this topic, but we’ll leave it there for now. What are your thoughts or questions? Leave them in the comments. If you found this blog helpful or thought-provoking, please subscribe below, please share it on social media, or tell a few friends about it! 

Love being on this Essential Godly Leadership journey with you!


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