There is no doubt we are living in a time in history where there has been sudden and constant change to our lives. Coming into 2020 nobody expected the events that are unfolding and the high propensity to swift changes COVID-19 would bring that has left us all doing our best to adjust and reset to new realities as quickly as possible.
One thing I’ve learnt about leadership is that leaders lead change. Nothing happens without leadership. Leading through change in any scenario can be chaotic and challenging because most people feel uneasy about change. However, change is necessary in any healthy, growing environment of team, family, church or community.
We can sit and watch change happen, or we can be part of the changes that happen and help lead people through them. Times of change typically place the spotlight on two groups of people – Leaders that lead and Lounge chair critics that laze.
Have you ever heard of the term, ‘armchair critic’? The definition of the term is ‘someone who criticizes other people but who does not have any proper experience of the activity the other people are doing’. Being a critic is something we all have done at some point in our lives. Inside of all of us though is the capacity to be something greater and to become a leader that produces positive change. Every great hurdle the world has ever faced has produced great critics but equally great leaders who have risen up to see opportunities and lead positive change. Times of challenge and change are the making of great leaders. Critics make a lot of noise at the time but aren’t remembered.
I just want to share with you the differences I have observed between Leaders that lead and Lounge Chair Critics that laze.
5 Differences between Leaders and Lounge Chair Critics:
1. Leaders lean forward; lounge chair critics lay backwards.
Leaning forward into the new is the position leaders take. Laying back on the comfort of the past is the position lounge chair critics take. If you’re leading change you need to lean forward with your words, actions, and focus to help others see and step into the new. The past is known, but the future is new. A leader sees the way forward and shows the way forward to others. When other leaders grasp that and start to move towards the future, change happens. When people take their place to help change it is like placing an oar in their hand to help the boat of change shift direction and build momentum. Those with an oar in their hand are usually not the ones that rock the boat. Together change happens. There is always the lounge chair critic laying in the back of the boat making the most noise but contributing the least. As the saying goes, “the loudest boo’s usually come from the cheapest seats”. The most invested contribute, the least invested complain.
2. Leaders hold the line; lounge chair critics recline.
To ‘hold the line’ is a military term used to describe soldiers that attack or defend territory in an orchestrated line side by side. The line is held as every soldier plays their part and if the line is broken then a breach can occur, and the other soldiers are at risk of being flanked by the enemy. When change is happening, its important teams hold the line in unity. Critics think only about themselves and take the easy option of reclining, but leaders do the hard work of standing together for the benefit of others and the overall goals.
3. Leaders look for growth zones; lounge chair critics look for comfort zones.
Leaders explore options to grow even if that means doing things that are different and uncomfortable. However, lounge chair critics sit in comfort zones that stunt growth. You will never grow to your potential in comfort zones, trying new things can lead to some of the greatest moments of growth in your life.
4. Leaders speak life; lounge chair critics speak death.
The tongue has the power of life and death. Your words can produce life and speak into change or they can produce death and kill change. With our words we frame the future and help people transition to the new. The language of death articulated at a funeral is different to the language of life spoken at the birth of a baby. Is your language more like a funeral burying the new or the birthing of change and the beginning the new? Words are a GPS for others to follow into the new things your leading them to.
5. Leaders lead change; lounge chair critics leave change
Every healthy thing changes and if it doesn’t then it eventually dies. Change isn’t always easy, and it can make people uncomfortable but not making necessary changes will lead to even more uncomfortable realities. When lounge chair critics leave change, they do it because it’s the easiest thing to do and when leaders lead change, they do it because it’s the right thing to do.
Leading people through change is a privilege because its helping people connect to the future. Like a bridge connects people to new places and new possibilities so does change help people access the new things in store for them. We can be bridges or blockages of change. Will you be a leader that leads or a lounge chair critic that lazes?