Creating Healthy Team Dynamics

Whether the team you gather around you, as Lead Pastor, is paid or volunteer, there are some simple principles that help ensure health, harmony and Purpose.

As Lead Pastor you are the Mover, Motivator and Monitor of the Vision. You are not the owner. If you think you own it, and act accordingly, the Vision will not develop beyond your own capacities, nor will it outlast your tenure. The strongest Vision is one that is owned by all the investors.

When WestjetTM began to expand, they adopted a very simple strategy for increasing flight volumes. On every flight, the passengers were reminded that they, in fact, were the owners of the airline. Who wouldn’t want to fly on an airline they own?

Here are a few thoughts about the benefits of embracing a ‘Shared’ Vision and creating Team Health.

1. As leader, you have not successfully cast vision until that vision is caught in concentric ripples outward, starting with your leadership team – your departmental leaders – your Congregational members. Why is a grand slam in baseball celebrated more than a solo home run? Quite simply, there are more team members involved in a grand slam, and more runs are scored. Every run that comes across the plate, resulting from a grand slam, is made possible by that fourth man at bat. But, they all share the win. A leader who communicates, overtly or otherwise, that team members are there to fulfill his personal vision, will have employees, but no actual team. Where there is no shared Vision, there is no shared win.

2. Meet often and democratize ideas. There is no dumb idea, no idea without merit. Obviously, all ideas will not be conducive to propelling the Vision forward. However, let the leadership team decide which ideas they feel may have merit. An idea is only a seed. It takes a multi-gifted team effort to bring an idea to life. It is in the proliferation of ideas that creativity occurs. It is out of the creativity of multiple ideas that successful programs are developed. Many of the best ideas will not originate in the mind of the Lead Pastor. Ego has to be sacrificed in order to accommodate fruitful progress.

When an idea is validated by the team, the one who presented the idea, will not have to be motivated to recruit help and release resources needed to make it happen. The greatest energies are invested in the things people believe in the most. This, in turn, relieves a lot of pressure from the Lead Pastor. He or She is freed to encourage the team member in the execution of the corporately embraced idea, and hopefully bask in its success without a lot of personal stress or unnecessary expenditure of energy. But, if an idea does not work, it should not be viewed as a failure, simply a point of learning and growth.

3. When an idea is presented to the team, a wise leader focuses the subsequent discussion on ways that the idea could work and contribute to the Vision. Many leaders focus continually on the reasons why ideas cannot work. This greatly discourages their team members and stifles creativity. Following a ‘naysayer’ path leads the congregation to stagnation and immobility.
Leaders who dismiss ideas because of their risk do so from fear.
Leaders who engage ideas despite their risk do so in faith.

4. Learn the ‘push points’ of team members. Everyone assembled around you in leadership has a ‘heart throb,’ something that motivates and energizes them. It is important for a Lead Pastor to discover where that push point is. Resourcing the strengths of a team member will bring the greatest enjoyment to that person and a greater contribution to the corporate Vision. Nothing dampens creative vision more than the misappropriation of human resources. Pounding square pegs in round holes results only in unnecessary pain.
Understand the ‘gifts’ God has invested in each individual team member around you, and direct their energies to the exercising of their unique gifts.

5. Intentionally hold your team in the ‘cusp’ of a learning curve. Successful teams are learning teams. There is need for a personal discipline to life-long learning. Provide the opportunities for your team members to learn. Press the issue repeatedly. There is also great help and health in learning together. Find opportunities to subject the team to the same leadership conferences and seminars. Follow-up those corporate learning times with discussion, both pro and con. Be open, as Lead Pastor to learn from the ‘learning life’ of your team members. Iron sharpens iron. Some of the most valuable things I know I have learned from members of my team.

6. Have fun! Overcome obstacles together, eat chicken wings together, play golf together. The commitment and energy invested by each team member, towards executing the Vision, will be directly proportionate to the level of enjoyment they find in doing so.

How are you creating a healthy team dynamic? Share your ideas with me.