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3 Tips for Managing Change— from Wespath’s Senior Leadership Team

About 25 years ago, Wespath was in the midst of massive change. There was new staff, new processes, and a new system, recalls Eileen Kane, who was Wespath’s controller at the time.

Wespath had hired an outside vendor to launch a new system, but the project ran into issues. Kane, who is now Wespath’s chief financial and strategy officer, was part of a small team of employees who worked together for six months to engineer a solution.

It was a seminal moment in Kane’s career. She recalls it as the start of her leadership journey at Wespath.

After The United Methodist Church’s General Conference (April 23 – May 3, 2024), many of Wespath’s participants will also experience some form of change. With that in mind, we compiled tips from three of Wespath’s senior leaders to help you lead amid change.

As we all know, change isn’t limited to the Church. It is a near constant in many facets of life. Whether you are the leader of a congregation or a household—or both—we hope you find these tips helpful.

1. Teamwork is critical.

Kane jokes that she and the other members of the team locked themselves in a room for six months to address the issues with the new system. By working closely with her colleagues, Kane said she learned to rely on others.

“Sometimes I have to be the team leader,” Kane said. “Sometimes I am the team member. And sometimes I need to exit the team.”

Working together as a team can help you arrive at the solution—and much more. Kane formed close bonds with her teammates, and she said that led to some of her most rewarding career experiences.

“I built some super-phenomenal relationships,” Kane said. “That made it so much more rewarding later when we all brought the ball over the finish line in the end, or won the championship, or whatever the right sports analogy is.”

2. Establish your priorities.

When Sheila Henretta, Wespath’s chief legal officer, talks about work-life balance, she’s realistic.

“This idea of being able to do it all—you’re just crushing it at work and you’re crushing it at home, you’re doing all these different things—I think it’s a bit of a myth,” said Henretta, adding, “There are only so many hours in the day, and there are only so many things you can put your attention to.”

Instead of trying to do it all, Henretta recommended taking time to figure out what to do—or not do—and determining what to prioritize. Henretta acknowledged this may be a big adjustment for some people, especially those who strive for excellence in everything they do.

“You have all these things you have to get done. Ask yourself: Which things do you need to get an ‘A’ on?” Henretta said. “Which can you get a ‘B’ on? And which can you get a ‘C’ on? And approach your tasks and your responsibilities in that way.”

3. Set the right tone.

Johara Farhadieh is set to succeed Dave Zellner as Wespath’s chief investment officer on August 1. As she prepares for her new role, she is thinking through not only the principles—but also the culture—she wants to instill within Wespath’s investment team.

Since she joined Wespath in October 2023 as the deputy chief investment officer, Farhadieh has talked about empowering members of her team.

“I want to foster an environment where each team member feels empowered to take initiative and contribute innovative ideas,” Farhadieh said.

One way to do that is to emphasize collaboration and value team members for their unique talents and perspectives. It’s important to not only give everyone a seat at the table, but to make sure everyone has a chance to speak and be heard.

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