7 Ways Leaders Make Adjustments In Any Organization

A plane takes off from New York heading to Dallas.  Just after takeoff, the strong winds cause the plane to veer slightly off course.   Does the pilot turn around and take off again?  Of course not!  The pilot just adjusts his course to compensate for the wind and gets the plane safely to Dallas.

This analogy, once given by Zig Ziglar, is perfect for any of us who lead organizations – small or large.  There have been times when I have wished that I could just stop everything for three months while we build some new systems, new cultures and in effect, start over from the ground up.  But, that is impossible.

You have to become comfortable making adjustments along the way.  Here are 7 ways leaders do this:

1) Don’t Short Change The Process – New cultures and new systems need buy-in. They take time.  If the whole team answers the burning question, with everyone’s input, the system, and culture that comes as a result is more effective and healthy.  The process is an integral part of the culture and the systems.  And it will take some time.

2) Listen – To make adjustments along the way, you need to listen to those who are closer to the ground than you are.  What is happening in departments and areas in which you have little direct input or influence?  Listen to your team, to others in your organization, your staff, and the volunteers who are serving.  Fight the temptation to talk too much; defending, explaining, or overanalyzing.  Just listen.

3) Nimble Decision Making –  Don’t get bogged won’t with simple decisions. Move quickly and easily, adjusting your course as needed without much commotion.  Decisions usually cause a bottleneck – and though time is needed for bigger decisions, most organizations have too many people involved in small insignificant issues.  Give your trusted team authority to make decisions.  Make the simple ones quickly and decisively.  Act swiftly when action needs to be taken.

4) Model Change – Do you want the culture to be different in your organization?  It’s going to require you to change.  You’ll have to begin living in the mode you want others to live in.  You’ll have to have the attitudes that you want others to have.  Memos and documents don’t change an organization’s culture, your actions do.

Memos and documents don’t change an organization’s culture, your actions do.


5) Adapt – If there is one skill that leaders of all ages need in this era, it’s the ability to adapt.  Without this ability, you are lost in a heartbeat.  Technology, generational attitudes, worldviews, and styles change every day.  As a church leadership team, adapting is key.  We have to be able to, while everything is still happening, break down the systems around us and rebuild them to best reach people.  Reaching people with the Gospel of Jesus is our goal.  Everything else should bee adapted to support that goal.


6) Rehearse – Rehearsal, orchestration and planning for success are all part of everyday living in an organization.  When a change needs to be made,  planning and orchestration are highlighted even more!  Know what you are shooting for.  I recently heard that you save one hour of execution for every minute you plan!  To change midcourse, you must plan and rehearse.

7) Evaluate –  The single best thing you can do to help re-chart the course for your organization is to evaluate.  Ask these simple questions:  1. Why are we doing what we are doing?  2. What is our primary mission?  3. Do these things we are doing help our primary mission?  4. How is it going?  5. What needs to change? 6. What steps needs to be taken to get there?

Which one of these seven do you need to work on today? 



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