Leading Change? Time to Cash In Your Chips

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Do you know how many change chips you’re carrying around in your pocket?

Leaders possess a certain number of ‘change chips’. These chips are made up of credibility, respect, authority, good will and other essential leadership ingredients.

Every leader carries these around in their pocket knowing that at the moment when they must introduce change they will have to cash in some of these chips.

But if these chips are cashed in at the wrong time or for the wrong reasons it can make introducing real, meaningful change that much more difficult.

I learned this lesson in a painful way during my first weeks on the job when I served as executive pastor of a large Canadian church.

I led a staff of about 35 people, and soon after I was hired I saw that the office configuration was not optimal. Almost before I had settled into my chair I was moving staff around the facility from one office to another. Because I was the new sheriff in town, the staff dutifully followed my edict. And within a couple of weeks most staff were in new offices which, to me, was a marginal improvement over the previous set up.

But I had cashed in several credibility chips with only a marginal ‘win’ for the organization. I had introduced irritation, confusion and distraction, and the only upside was a slight increase in the ergonomics of the office.

In hindsight I wish I had saved those chips for later on when I needed to call for significant change that could generate meaningful, positive results.

What might this mean for you?

Take a few minutes to actually make a list of the potential changes you’re contemplating. Perhaps it looks something like this…

  • Changing the day of the weekly staff meeting,

  • Dropping a well-established, but tired, program,

  • Introducing new ways for expense reports to be submitted,

  • Launching a new product or service,

For each item on your own list, carefully consider the change chips required to be cashed in.

Just before you pull the trigger on that change you want to introduce ask yourself this question; “It this worth cashing in my chips?”

Because to make lasting, significant change, you may find that you need to keep a few more chips in your pocket.

the author

Scott Cochrane

Vice President- International, Willow Creek Association. Love Jesus, Nora, Adam & Robin, Amy, Dave & Willow and John, Fiona & Will. Lifelong learner.

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