Leadership on the Line – Part II

Still in Part I – The Challenge, Heifetz and Linsky provide four ways that organizations or people resist change. The major reason they resist change is because they fear loss. Because the fear loss they will go to some extremes to keep what is dear to them.

1. Marginalization – this is the process of pushing someone who is calling out a problem or a place where change needs to happen out into the fringe of the organization. This is a process by which the person voicing the change/problem becomes the change/problem. Since the person=the problem permission is given within the organization to ignore the person and isolate them and their agenda.

This will happen in churches where someone is pushing their idea and their idea is all they see anymore. A young mother voices the need for childcare during meetings and choir practice. Yet older members push her to the side because they were able to do it all when they had children and so should she. They ignore her because it is ‘her’ issue not a church issue. The young mother is marginalized and the problem neutralized.

2. Diversion – this is the process of diverting someone’s attention and/or resources from the issue/change. If the inbox is busy than there isn’t enough time to attend to the agenda they were pushing. If you keep a person busy enough they will be distracted from the real issues.

You can see this in ministry when your Pastor Parish Relations Committee wants you to visit all the shut-ins twice a week instead of growing the building campaign. (just an example) If the minister is busy running here and there living up to the expectations of the PPRC then they cannot push the congregation into the place God is calling them to be.

3. Attack – this is one of the oldest plays in the playbook. When all else fails, attack them personally. You see this in politics all the time. People look up a ton of personal junk and focus on that instead of the issues at hand. Then when the person takes those attacks personally it is only fuel for the fire. Personal attacks make people look bad and keeps the focus on them not the issue that needs the attention.

A man in an Administrative Council meeting jumps down the Associate pastor’s throat for being too young and not knowing anything about ministry after a presentation of how to build up the youth program. Instead of dealing with the needs of the youth, the focus all of a sudden is turned onto the associate’s inexperienced. This can get real dirty, REAL QUICK.

4. Seduction – promotion to a better position or better duties and remove the person who understands the need for change by feeding their ego. A higher position, better pay, more flashy title, can feed the egos of even the humblest person. When given a higher position all of a sudden work piles up and the core supports may fall away stating that the person ‘sold out.’

A clergy person is a provoker of change and a loud mouth in the conference. He is given a high pulpit with an historically hard congregation. The pastor is so busy dealing with inner congregational troubles that he loses focus on the conference issue he was fighting for. Plus his clergy friends see him as selling out to the ‘good old boy network’ and he loses respect among his core.

These are four ways the authors state that organizations (and all though they don’t say churches, we all know this happens there too) when people become scared of what they will lose if an issue or change continues to progress.

Ring true for anyone besides me?

One thought on “Leadership on the Line – Part II

  1. the mom who needs childcare at worship services and choir practice? wow, I’m pretty sure someone from my church called you to b*tch about me (aka the squeaky wheel)… they want young families to be involved, but there’s no childcare. ooooh, I know. let’s marginalize that ONE young family who is involved, by making them feel like they’re the only ones with this issue!(I love my church, honestly. this is just a sore spot with me. I can’t believe you hit the nail so close to the head with the choir practice and all!!)


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