Many leaders recognize that growing and developing, as well as plateauing and declining, are part of the natural growth cycles that occur with any living thing—both organic and organizational.
These growth cycles may refer to intimacy within a couple’s marriage experience, sales numbers in a product’s life cycles, or the effectiveness of a church ministry over time. The dynamics are universal in application.
Phases of the Life Cycle of Living Things:
No one I know wants to experience plateau or decline!
In fact, leaders are always looking for the indicators of approaching decline in order to initiate a new growth cycle. Ideally, through implementing strategic change to reinvigorate growth, an organization need not plateau or decline at all! This, however, is more easily said than done! Plateauing (like every phase) is temporary—it is always followed by decline unless change is instituted. So, when a leader sees plateauing, action is required!
In the diagram below, there is an area bounded (with crosshatching) between the declining part of Cycle 1 and the growth part of Cycle 2 defining the transition area.
Initiating New Growth Cycles:
Transitions in any organization are difficult as everyone involved leaves the comfort zone of Cycle 1 in an attempt to start the new growth possible with Cycle 2. It is especially in transition that a leader needs to be clear in her communication and courageous in her resolve!
Here are a few essentials when you observe yourself entering the dreaded plateau phase:
- Revisit Your Vision!
Explain in detail WHY you have to keep moving! Then describe where you intend to go—and that staying where you are now is a terrible idea—and a bad option!
- Gather the Team!
The leader can’t move everyone forward by herself: she needs the entire team. This is the time to lead the discussion as to what are the problems ahead, and why facing them and walking through them will benefit everyone.
- Bring Clarity!
Transitions are filled with questions and uncertainty that you can’t remove. Don’t worry about answering every question; worry about being clear in everything you say!
- Focus on the Gain, Describe the Win!
Every change brings both a gain and a loss: focus on the gain.
Bring your vision for God’s preferred future into clear view, and take one step at a time, forward.