Changing Culture in Your Church, Part 1: 5 Principles for Interdependent Leadership

What does it take for an organization to set and execute strategy in a complex and interdependent world? Collaborative work across boundaries is increasingly seen as a requirement — but collaboration in most organizations is not a natural act. A shift in thinking, alongside a change in behaviors, is usually needed for genuinely collaborative work. But history and experience suggest that accepted change management techniques are not up to the task of transforming the way we work.What’s needed is a culture change process that combines leadership strategy with the organization’s strategy. Here’s an approach based on five principles.

Principle #1: Culture change is a guided, public-learning process. People cannot simply be “managed” into change. Culture change requires guides who become trusted partners, help steer change and engage in a learning process.Public learning includes truth-telling, revealing mistakes, admission of not having all the answers, and of sharing confusion and even uncomfortable emotions. This is an inside-out experience of our imagination, emotions and human spirit. Executive team members must confront the risks they take and the vulnerability they feel in change that triggers fear, uncertainty and anxiety. But with proper guidance, they can discover that change also holds innovation, creativity and joy.

Principle #2: Executives leaders do the change work first. Executives must lead by engagement and example in the transformation process. Senior leaders must own and model the new behaviors before immersing larger numbers of key leaders in the change process. Developing senior leadership’s capability to deal with increasing complexity is core work — not a sideline activity.

Principle #3: Develop vertical capability. Dealing with the increased complexity across organizational boundaries requires more mature minds, developing from dependent to independent to interdependent leadership cultures. We call this the vertical framework for changing leadership culture. This allows people to grow increasingly capable of sophistication in the face of complexity.

Principle #4: Leadership culture changes by advancing beliefs and practices simultaneously. Best beliefs drive best practices drive best beliefs — like an infinity loop, beliefs and practices are mutual and interdependent. Advancing to a next stage in leadership culture requires developing a self-reinforcing web of beliefs and practices — and our work develops both beliefs and practices in parallel.

Principle #5: Sustainable culture change is a learn-as-you-go process embedded in the work of the organization. Leaders need to learn new beliefs by inventing and testing new practices — new ways of working together. Learning is a core practice and culture work is equally important as the work in technical systems and processes. Culture development is the work and not a separate “training exercise.”

Based on these five principles, we’ve seen executives, leadership teams and entire organizations “grow bigger minds” — and create an organizational culture capable of learning, changing and succeeding in uncertain, complex times.

Coming: Part 2 – 4-Phase Culture-Change Process.

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Center for Creative Leadership

The Center for Creative Leadership (CCL®) offers what no one else can: an exclusive focus on leadership education and research and unparalleled expertise in solving the leadership challenges of individuals and organizations everywhere. We equip clients around the world with the skills and insight to achieve more than they thought possible through creative leadership.

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comment_post_ID); ?> I like it Mac and do agree with your opinions on the matter. Thanks much
— winston
comment_post_ID); ?> In this era, we have the opportunity of professional church staff today who utilize their gifting to shape the image and atmosphere of the church organization. But the 100% real impact on the church visitors is genuine evidence of changed lives by the gospel and the active growing discipleship (just as it was in the first century church). One demonstration is financially rich believers ministering equally together with poor believers (how odd, and incredibly miraculous; all humble and bow at the foot of the cross.). It is the awesome contrast of church members vocations, race, gender, age, maturity, gifting, humility that demonstrates to visitors "there is a Spirit in the place". That first-time guest list of 10 are "physical excuses", not spiritual excuses. Those don't tell the story. The condition of facilities and publicly greeting people have zero to do with it. The power of God in and through believers lives dedicated to impact other people with their relationship bridge-building of acceptance of the lost around them. Empowered believers are infectious, loving, helpful, giving, self-less, dynamic, compelling, bold, Christ-filled. As I have been in many church settings domestically and internationally, the facilities can be poor, and yet the fellowship can still be rich. We need to operate with first church humility. People come to Christ on His terms, not on our human abilities of hospitality. A huge catastrophe in a community, disaster relief brings lots of people into churches – many come to the church in those terrible conditions no matter the physical condition of the local church. Off the condition of facility, and onto the condition of God's people (living stones).... and everything else will grow.... and the other physical issues will be corrected by the staff.
— Russ Wright
comment_post_ID); ?> "While I understand the intent behind this phrase" Expound please. What do you understand to be the intent behind that phrase?
— Ken

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