When leading a team, many leaders think about what the team does but fail to think enough about the who, the why, and the how. Wise leaders care not only about what people do but whom they serve alongside, why they serve, and how they serve. More than developing job descriptions, wise leaders develop the team in the following three ways.
1. Relationally (whom I am serving alongside)
People care deeply about whom they are serving alongside, not just what they are doing. It is a great joy to be on a team that is filled with mutual respect and trust. When a team is strong relationally, people enjoy serving alongside one another and serving each other. In his book Speed of Trust, Stephen Covey articulates that teams that trust one another are more productive and move faster. When there is trust, covering one’s rear with endless email chains, posturing, and passive-aggressive behavior is unwelcome because the team does not want their community harmed.
Developing a team relationally takes time because trust takes time. It is not as easy as an off-site meeting with trust falls and forced conversations. But leaders can start today by doing the basics:
- Love those on the team (a leader’s concern, or lack of concern, is contagious)
- Give honest feedback (people want to grow and develop and feel safe when the truth is always told)
- Rebuke privately; confront publicly.
2. Convictionally (why I am serving)
For a team to be focused, the team must hold convictions as to why they are doing what they are doing. When a team possesses shared convictions about why they are together and why they are on the planet, the work flows from deeply held beliefs. With a compelling why, a team will care deeply about their work. Without a compelling why, people will knock out tasks without their hearts engaged. More than any other context, a ministry context must be filled with deep conviction. We have a faith that has been delivered once and for all to the saints, the gospel that we have taken our stand on, a community the Lord has given us, and a mission He has given. Wise leaders continually remind the team about the shared convictions that drive all the action.
3. Philosophically (how I am serving)
A team that is aligned on how the mission should be accomplished is a team that spends more time executing and less time arguing about tactics. In a ministry context, leaders often recruit team members based on theological alignment alone. While theological alignment is important, a team can move in a myriad of directions if the team is not aligned philosophically. Ensuring a person can convictionally sign-off on a doctrinal statement is important but insufficient if you want an aligned team. Leaders must continually work on the alignment of the team.
- Lead discussion about how shared convictions work themselves out.
- Continually bring the team back to the mission and the strategy.
- Constantly explain and illustrate the important words and phrases you use to describe your culture and mission.
Perhaps it would be helpful to think about where your team could use your leadership. Where do you most need to invest in the team you are leading: relationally, convictionally, or philosophically?