Leading a Culture Shift in Your Organization

Part 3: Influence the Change

Leading Culture Change

One of the keys to making a permanent culture shift in your organization is, simply put, INFLUENCE!

As the leader of your organization, you have the most direct impact in making a change in the culture of your organization.  Author, speaker, and leadership guru, John Maxwell states, “Leadership is influence.  Nothing more, nothing less.”  The success of the culture shift in your organization is directly related to the influence that you bring to that culture shift.

In my two previous posts on culture shift, you were asked to make a list of what your current culture is like, and what the new culture would be like that you will create in your organization.  Now, it is time to influence the change.

In the book Influencer:  The New Science of Leading Change, the authors suggest that influencing change can be brought about by the following three things:

  • A clear understanding of the result you are looking for AND meticulous measuring of what leads to that result.  Leaders who influence change know exactly what they are looking for and they constantly and consistently measure the factors that lead to those results.
  • A focus on high leverage behaviors that will provide those results.  In a world that is so full of information and distraction, it is easy to get lost in a long list of behaviors that will produce results.  However, it is important to focus on just the 2-3 vital behaviors that will produce the results you desire from the new culture.
  • Engagement of all six sources of influence.  While most leaders and speakers resort to one or two types of influence, successful culture shift leaders engage their organization with all six sources of influence.

What, then, are the six sources of influence that are described in the book Influencer?  The six sources are found within the 2 by 3 grid diagram that the authors suggest.  They include both a motivation aspect and an ability aspect within three areas of life:  personal, social, and structural.  The authors diagram found throughout their book gives the following statements about the six sources of influence.

  • “Make the Undesirable Desirable.”  Successful change influencers motivate at the personal level by helping the individual members of the organization to “love what they hate.”  Culture shift happens at the personal level when individuals begin to love a new behavior.
  • “Surpass Your Limits.”  Successful change influencers help to develop new skill sets at the personal level by helping the individual members of the organization to “do what they can’t.”  In other words, provide training that develops the new desired skill set.  This builds confidence in the individual so that they realize they CAN do what is required of them in the culture shift.
  • “Harness Peer Pressure.”  Successful change influencers motivate at the group, or social, level by providing encouragement and utilizing peer pressure to help further motivate the culture shift.  There is nothing more motivating that hearing from your peers that you are doing a great job in this new endeavor.  As people are encouraged, they also become encouragers – and peer pressure helps to drive the culture shift.
  • “Find Strength in Numbers.”  Successful change influencers provide assistance to the individual members of the organization.  They begin to find strength in the team and realize that they are not alone in this culture shift.
  • “Design Rewards and Demand Accountability.”  Successful change influencers motivate at the structural level by developing a new set of rewards and accountability based upon the new behaviors that will provide the new desirable result.  A new structure that is designed to provide the new desired results is implemented and a new accountability structure is set in place.  These organizational structures provide a motivation to the individuals in the organization to live out the new behaviors that lead to the desired results.
  • “Change the Environment.”  Finally, successful change influencers recognize that the physical environment of the organization needs to model the new behaviors needed to get the new results.  Signs need changed, bulletin board announcements need changed, and perhaps a new logo, slogan, or even physical facility changes need to happen to support the new culture.  Creativity is used in visually reminding the members of the organization what the new result is you are creating.

To quote another famous phrase from John Maxwell, “everything rises and falls on leadership.”  You are the leader.  It is up to you to influence the necessary changes within your organization.  Get started right now and lead your organization to a new and better future by changing its culture through a culture shift!

ACTION POINT:  Influence Exercise

  • Using the two worksheets from my previous posts in this series (part one, part two), write out another list of ways to influence the needed change.  On a new sheet of paper, list the result that you are looking to achieve with your culture shift, how you are going to measure the factors (actions) that lead to that result, and the 2-3 key behaviors that will bring about that result.
  • Write out actions steps for each of the six sources of influence within your organization.  Then, take action at ALL six levels.  You will find you have a tenfold result as opposed to utilizing just one source of influence.
  • Finally, consider hiring a coach to help guide you through the process.  A coach can help you to become more focused by providing an outside look into your organization and the changes that you want to create through your culture shift.  I would love to be a resource to help you in creating a culture shift within your organization.  Contact me and we can discuss a customized approach for your organization while working within your budget.

To order a copy of the book referenced in this article, click the link below:

Influencer: The New Science of Leading Change, Second Edition

Leading a Culture Shift in Your Organization

Part 2: Define Your New Culture

Leading Culture Change

In the first article in this series, I stated that the culture of your organization is either propelling you forward or holding you back.  As we explore and evaluate the culture of your organization, you will begin to see a pattern emerge which leads to one of those destinations – forward toward your vision, mission, and goals; or, the inability to accomplish those goals no matter how great the vision and mission.  Your organizational culture is what makes the difference in which direction you are heading!

(If you haven’t read my first article, click here.  Then, complete the Culture Exercise listed in the action point section of the article.)

After you have evaluated your current culture, you will need to ask Am I getting the results that I need to get in order to fulfill the vision, mission, and goals of my organization?  As you look at the list that you created in the Culture Exercise, you need to ask that question first.  If the answer to that question is a resounding “yes,” then your focus needs to be on strengthening the culture that currently exists.  If your answer is “no,” then you need to define the new culture that will help your organization reach those results.

Take a moment to right down your thoughts as you answer these questions.  What does that new culture look like?  How do I get from here to there?  Then, begin by working through the following steps:

  • First, define what “there” looks like.  What results does your organization need to accomplish in order to fulfill the vision and mission, and to meet the organization’s goals?  This is where you need to define what a “win” looks like.  Clearly define what results your organization needs to achieve.  If it is a certain number of parts produced on a production line each hour, then define exactly what that number is for your team.  If it is increased customer service, then clearly define what that means for your team (i.e. every customer receives a greeting with a smile).  Whatever your “win” is for your organization, it needs to be clearly defined in this step.
  • Next, what actions do the members of your organization need to take in order to achieve those results?  What actions will each person need to do on a daily basis that will produce the results that your organization needs?  In the case of the customer service example above, you may expect every employee to smile every time they greet a new customer – both in person and on the phone.  You may teach them a certain phrase that you want them to say as they greet the customer.  Whatever the result is that you are looking to achieve in your organization, define the actions that will get you those results.
  • Third, what new beliefs do they need to embrace that will help them act in such a way as to achieve the expected results?  In order to influence the actions that your team needs to do, define what beliefs they would need to hold in order to achieve those actions.  In many ways, this is a difficult part of the culture change process.  Here, you need to define a list of beliefs that will influence the actions that will drive the results.  What beliefs do the members of your organization need to adhere to that will influence them to act in the way that produces the results your organization is looking to accomplish?

Keep in mind that you ALWAYS act out your belief system.  Beliefs always follow actions, but not always words.  You can say that you believe a certain way, but your true beliefs will be shown by what you do.  Many times they are aligned perfectly.  Many times they are not.  In order to understand what a person believes, look at their actions.

  • Finally, what new experiences do you need to bring to your organization that will help define this new belief system?  One of the best ways to develop a new belief system is to take the members of your organization to visit a company that is doing what you want them to do.  Another way is to bring in a coach to train them and expose them to other ways of thinking and doing.  (Check out My Services page to see if I can help you in this area.)  Try to make a list of 3-5 experiences that point them toward what you are attempting to accomplish with your organization.

Culture change is a difficult task.  It takes great thought, preparation, and planning.  Most organizations can benefit from an outside coach, trainer, or speaker to assist in the culture change process.  As a member of the John Maxwell Team, I specialize in leadership development and culture change.  If I can help you in any way, please contact me.


Take the list that you created from the Culture Exercise in my last article.  Lay out a new sheet of paper with the same four headings:  Results, Actions, Beliefs, and Experiences.  Now, underneath each heading fill in your responses for this NEW CULTURE that you want to create.  Take the information in the article above and answer those questions for this new culture.

Next week, we will compare the two lists and begin to learn how to Lead a Culture Shift.

Leading a Culture Shift in Your Organization

Part 1

Leading Culture Change

The CULTURE of your organization is either propelling you forward or holding you back.  A healthy organizational culture will give your organization the momentum and foundation for achieving the vision, mission, and goals of your organization.  However, a toxic organizational culture is like a cancer that destroys you from within, no matter how great your vision, mission, and goals are and no matter how well you communicate them within your organization.

So, how do you determine whether your organization is healthy or toxic?  And, once you’ve answered that question, how do you create a culture shift in your organization so that your vision, mission, and goals drive your organization to success?  In this series of blog posts, we will address some of the various issues of culture change and give practical advice on how to create a culture shift in your organization.

The concept or idea of making a “shift” involves changing from one idea or concept to another.  In this case, a “shift” takes place as you change from your existing, possibly toxic, culture to a more healthy culture.

So, how do you make this shift in your organizational culture so that you can accomplish the vision, mission, and goals of your organization?

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Roadblocks to Maximum Potential in Your Church or Organization

road blocks

Just last week I was privileged to participate in a webinar by Dr. Sam Chand about the 11 Roadblocks to Maximizing Potential in your Organization.  Dr Chand gave his permission for his listeners to share this information with their friends and networks.  Below, you will find his list (in bold) along with my comments regarding his list.  You can reference his entire video by clicking here.

11 Roadblocks to Maximizing Potential in your Organization:

  • Momentum could be a bad thing – contrary to John Maxwell’s viewpoint that momentum is your best friend, Dr. Chand suggests that it can be a bad thing due to all the chaos that it brings to your church or organization.  However, if your develop new systems to handle the chaos, it is a welcomed friend.
  • Measuring the wrong things – the metrics, or measurements that we use in our churches are putting the emphasis on the wrong things.  For example, attendance and finances do not give us a picture of the health of our church.  They just tell us how much money and how many people we have.  They do not give us an idea of how we are doing with our mission of “making disciples of every nation.”  After all, what you reward gets done.  If we reward attendance, we’ll have more people, but we won’t necessarily produce disciples.
  • People in the organization don’t feel responsible to fulfill the vision – when people feel that it is the responsibility of the pastor or church leaders to do the work, it makes it nearly impossible to achieve the vision for the church.  Instead, pastors and church leaders need to learn how to communicate the vision to the entire congregation in such a way as they begin to “own it” and seek to help it reach fulfillment.
  • Unresolved conflict – conflict creates an environment in which the Holy Spirit is not free to work in the lives of the people.  Conflict must be identified, addressed, and resolved in order for the church to move forward.
  • Too much mercy – we can be so gracious and merciful that we fail to address the changes that need to happen for the church to maximize its potential.  Mercy must always be a part of any change initiative, but it cannot be the deciding factor that makes us back off of the necessary change.
  • Failure to leverage peer pressure – peer pressure doesn’t end with puberty.  It is something that we face all our lives.  Utilize it as a tool to help move the church forward to its new and better future.
  • Lack of personal improvement plans – let’s face it, most pastors and church leaders have NO plan for personal improvement.  The fact that you just read that sentence tells me that you are not most pastors or church leaders.  What is your plan for personal improvement?
  • Lack of resources – this is a reality with the small to mid-size church.  However, we need to use our God-given creativity to learn how to do more ministry with less resources.  Perhaps, we need to reallocate resources to the areas that will help the church maximize its potential.
  • Deadlines are too flexible – every time a decision is made, ask what needs done and who is responsible to see that it gets done and by what time or date.
  • Lack of support from leaders – if the leaders in your church are not behind the new initiative, it won’t happen.  Spend time getting your leaders on board.  The amount of time spent with leaders prior to launching a new initiative is directly related to the success of that new initiative.  Enough time equals success, but too little time equals failure.
  • Packing for where you’re going – always be thinking about where you are headed and what you will need with you get there.  Begin “packing” those things in your organization now.  Then, we you arrive at your new destination, you’ll be ready to enjoy it.

While this is a quick summary of the lessons taught by Dr. Chand, I want to encourage you to listen to the entire video presentation and ask yourself which of the roadblocks are you facing as you lead your church or organization?


Why New Ideas Fail

It's not what you think!

New Idea image

Consider this. A pastor goes to a conference to learn about the new ministry that launched a church forward in growth. He immediately implements that new ministry in his church, only to discover that it does nothing to spur on the growth of his church. The pastor is discouraged and the people become less willing to accept a new idea in the future.

Or, a manager learns of a new strategy for his organization. He roles out the new strategy in his department and it meets with so much opposition that he eventually moves things back to the way things were before.  The manager wonders why it didn’t work and the employees see yet another failed attempt to change the organization.

Both of these scenarios play out every day in our churches and businesses.

In both cases, they have learned the one reason many new ideas fail:  we fail to take into account the culture within which we are attempting that change effort.  In his book Cracking Your Church’s Culture Code: Seven Keys to Unleashing Vision and Inspiration, Dr. Samuel R. Chand identifies 5 types of cultures that can be found in your church, or your organization.  They are (the titles are Dr. Chand’s and the descriptions are mine):

  • Inspiring – a culture in which new ideas and ministries are enabled to flourish
  • Accepting – a culture in which new ideas and ministries are easily accepted and have opportunity for success
  • Stagnant – a culture in which new ideas and ministries are not easily accepted and have little chance for success
  • Discouraging – a culture in which new ideas are resisted and attempting new ministries is discouraged
  • Toxic – a culture in which new ideas have no chance of success due to the dysfunction in the organization

When attempting new ideas in your church or organization, you must take into account the culture of the organization.  Asking the following questions will help you determine the potential success or failure of your new idea.

  • Is the culture of my church/organization ready to accept this new change initiative?
  • How can I best implement the new idea within the current culture? 
  • Is there a better change initiative that I can implement within my current culture?
  • Do I need to change my current culture before implement my new idea?

When looking at your current culture and your new change initiative or idea, take the time necessary to investigate the potential success of that idea within your current culture.  Not sure how to do that?  Then, I want to encourage you to participate in my new FREE Webinar on culture change.  I want to share with you some of the things that I’ve been learning about changing the culture within our churches.  I’ll be announcing the details in a few weeks.  For now, be certain that you have subscribed to my website by filling out the form at the top right of this page.  You will be notified as soon as registration opens for this FREE Webinar.  You’ll also receive a free e-book as my way of saying thanks.

Change or Die

Why most churches choose the latter!

dying church

Change is happening at an ever increasing rate in America.  On June 26, 2015, a Bloomberg Business Report issued an article entitled “This is How Fast America Changes It’s Mind.”  The report shows many facts and charts regarding the speed of social change in America.  One chart, in particular, shows the number of years from an issue’s trigger point until federal action is taken on the issue.  The chart reveals that while the issue of interracial marriage spanned 180 years (1787-1967) , it took only 19 years from its trigger point until federal action was taken in the courts.  In contrast, the issue of same-sex marriage spanned less than 15 years and took only just over 2 years from its trigger point until federal action was taken in the courts.  (For more information on this topic see the article here.)

My point is simply this:  America is changing at an ever-increasing pace, and the church in America is stagnant.  The speed of change in those churches that actually do attempt to connect with their communities is, many times, much slower than the speed of change in our culture.  The result is that the church is losing ground and becoming more and more irrelevant to those we are trying to reach.  Because of this, while many in America are still seeking God, they have given up on the church as the means to discover a relationship with God.

While “Change or Die” may seem like an overreaction to the problem with most churches in America today, it is fast becoming the harsh reality that many churches are facing.  The judicatory leadership of my previous church location has been closing churches at an alarming rate.  In the 11 years I was the pastor of that church, our district judicatory closed over 13 churches.  This is a story that repeats itself over and over every day.  Approximately 3,500 churches close there doors every year in America.  According to a recent article in the Christian Post, there are approximately 4,000 new churches starting every year in America (click here for that article).  While that may look encouraging on the surface, we are, at best, just replacing recently deceased churches with new churches.  The result is that we are not keeping up with the growing changes in America, we are having less and less influence for God in our communities, and, in the case where a church “dies” and closes its doors forever, we have no presence in the community any longer.

Why, then, would churches choose to die rather than change?  In reality, very few churches actually “choose” to die rather than change.  Their death is simply a byproduct of not taking action to bring about change.  While the reasons for the failure of churches to bring about effective change are numerous, here are three basic reasons:

  • They don’t see the need for change.  The reason that people attend their church is because they like it the way that it is now.  If it is good enough for them, then the people in the community should like it, too.  If they don’t, then they just aren’t that interested in a relationship with Jesus.  Therefore, “change” is not the churches problem.  Rather, the problem is the spiritual condition of the people in the community.  Unfortunately, people don’t see that the culture of their church is keeping people from finding a relationship with Christ.
  • The church, as it is now, is the one constant in life.  In a world that is constantly changing, it is nice to have one area in our lives that doesn’t change.  Unfortunately, the desire to keep the church as the “anchor” of life also keeps new people from coming into the church.  After all, an old “anchor” in a changing culture is really nothing more than antiquated piece of metal collecting rust.  It’s intriguing to look at, but you wouldn’t consider actually using it.  Perhaps, the solution is that we need to begin to see Jesus as the anchor for our lives instead of expecting the church to fill that role.
  • The current culture of the church doesn’t allow for change.  Change does not happen by accident.  It takes intentional, consistent effort to bring about change in any organization.  Effective, long-term change doesn’t occur by adding a new program or ministry.  It occurs by strategically changing the culture of the church.

Most pastors and church leaders are not equipped to lead the change process in the local church.  It requires changing the very culture of the church at the level of its experiences, beliefs, and actions.  Very soon, I will be announcing a FREE Culture Change Webinar focused on giving you a basic understanding of what is involved in changing the culture of your church.  It is a first step for pastors and church leaders to take in learning how to change the culture of their churches.

Make sure you’ve signed up for my free e-book at the top right of this page.  Once you’ve done that, you will be on the email list for my blog.  I will be announcing how to register for my new webinar by contacting those on my email list first.  So, before you leave my site, make sure to sign up for your free e-book.  I look forward to sharing with you what I’ve learned about culture change in the church.

Until then, ask yourself this question:  What is it about my church that needs to change if we are going to fulfill the vision that God has given us?


The Day I Changed the Way I Looked at the Church

The One Thing More Powerful Than Vision

Some time ago, I heard about an author Samuel R. Chand, and his book Cracking Your Church’s Culture Code: Seven Keys to Unleashing Vision and Inspiration.  In his book, he discusses the concept that CULTURE is more powerful than VISION in leading a church.  He writes that a toxic culture in a church can keep it from fulfilling the vision that God has given to the church.  If that is true, and I believe that it is, then we, as church leaders, must deal with the problematic cultures in our churches BEFORE we can lead them forward in fulfilling the vision that God has given us for our churches.

While reading Dr. Chand’s book, I began looking at the church where I was currently the pastor.  We had been given a great vision for the church.  As we began pursuing that vision, we began to see the toxic culture of the church make itself evident.  What had been lurking just below the surface largely unnoticed, now was a full on attack against the vision that God had given to us.

Over time we navigated the change to the culture of our church.  People began to immediately notice the change.  Within 3 months our church had grown by 25% – during the summer months when church grow experts tell us that we cannot grow.

The bottom line – I was convinced that CULTURE really does trump VISION!  

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The Strategic Church Leadership Process, Part 1

Strategic Church Leadership

In my previous post What is Strategic Church Leadership?, I discussed the need for an overall strategy for looking at the local church.  As pastors and church leaders, we need to set aside time in our schedules for Big Picture Thinking – looking at the church from an overall perspective.  Now, I want to begin to unpack the Strategic Church Leadership Process.  In this post, I will share the first two steps in the process and subsequent posts will share the remaining steps.  Here is the diagram that I use to explain all the steps in the process.

Strategic Church Leadership Process

Strategic Church Leadership Process


The process begins in the bottom right corner and progresses as you move up the right side of the mountain.  After reaching the peak, you journey back down the left side of the mountain.  Then, you move across the bottom of the mountain and begin climbing again at a deeper strategic level.  Thus, the process is an ongoing and deepening look at the strategy for the local church.


This step takes a look at our current reality.  

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