Leading Through the Dip

During a time of crisis or decline, many leaders think the way to save their organization is to be better and work harder. But, in the opening talk at the 2020 Global Leadership Summit, Pastor Craig Groeschel gave leaders four areas to focus on as they lead strong through the dip:

  1. Change how you think about change.
  2. Have the courage to unmake promises. 
  3. Obsess over the “why.” 
  4. Lead with confident uncertainty.


1. Change how you think about change.

Leaders commonly believe that people hate change, but nothing is further from the truth. People don’t hate change; they hate the way we try to change them.

As leaders, it’s our responsibility to lead toward change. But when we’re struggling, our biggest temptation is to blame others instead of accept responsibility.

We should never say “Our people won’t…” Instead, we should say, “We haven’t led our people to…”

As leaders, we have to embrace change. We simply cannot ignore the changes around us and guard the way we’ve always done things. We must change the way we think about change.

Your desire to hold the fort may lead you to lose the war. 

Pastor Craig Groeschel


2. Have the courage to unmake promises.

Two of the most unifying statements are:

  • We will never
  • We will always

Have you made these statements at your church in your ministry? 

  • We will never do church online.
  • We will never allow food in the sanctuary. 
  • We will always do student ministry.

These bold, definitive, and apparently irreversible declarations are helpful, valuable, and productive—until they’re not!

New challenges and new opportunities demand a new way of thinking, and you may have to unmake some promises. This is important to hear—you’re not breaking promises, you’re unmaking them. 

Because you now know more, situations have changed, or perspectives have shifted, you’re changing your strategy and may need to unmake some promises. When an old mindset is limiting your future, have the courage to unmake a promise.

If you are not careful, your boldest declarations could become your greatest limitations.

To lead though the dip, you might need to unmake some promises: organizational or personal. Have you made any personal promises limiting your leadership potential?

  • I’ll always be in all the meetings.
  • I’ll never let someone help me with that.

If you do need to unmake a promise, be clear about it. Be transparent with the motive that went into the decision and the new future you see.


3. Obsess over the why.

When leading through change, inspire your team to change before they have to. Why?

 There are only two things that make people change:

  • Desperation—When someone has to change
  • Inspiration—When someone wants to change

When it comes to change, you can group people into three categories:

  1. Critics
  2. Bystanders 
  3. Advocates

The critics will be the loudest, but just because they are the loudest, that doesn’t mean they are the most important. If you only listen to the loudest voices, you’ll miss the important ones.

Leading with the “why” for change helps you:

• Disarm the critics

• Educate the bystanders

• Empower the advocates 


4. Lead with confident uncertainty.

You are most vulnerable when you are most confident.

As leaders, we should be self-aware that we don’t always know what’s coming. But, we can also be confident that we’ll adapt and make the necessary changes to thrive. 

Lead with strength through the dip—you may win or you may fail. But, when you fail, fail quickly and work to adapt immediately. 

As a leader, the pathway to your greatest potential is often straight through greatest fear.

Pastor Craig Groeschel

Application Questions

• What is no longer working that needs to be changed?

• What’s one promise you need to un-make?

• What’s one risk you need to take even if you feel afraid?

Our churches and communities need you to lead through the dip. Like never before, our world needs humble, confident, bold, and integrity-infused leaders. Let’s believe together that everyone single one of us can and will grow in our leadership. When the leader gets better, everyone gets better.

To continue to grow in your leadership, listen to the latest episode of the Craig Groeschel Leadership Podcast: Defeating the Four Enemies of Growth.

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