6 Ways the Team Reflects the Leader

One of the most challenging and convicting insights Brad Waggoner has shared with me is that “a leader can complain about the culture of the team for only a few years because after that, the culture reflects the leader.” In a church or an organization, there are multiple teams or groups. Obviously there should be an overarching culture and mission, but it is common for those teams/groups to take on different identities. And those identities, over time, are reflections of the leadership the group receives. Based on my observation of teams with different leaders, here are six ways the team reflects the leader:

1. Speed

The phrase “speed of the leader, speed of the team” typically proves to be true. A lethargic and indecisive leader will lead a slow-moving team. And a team bent toward rigorous execution is led by a leader who is as well.

2. Enthusiasm

A team’s passion or passivity is typically reflective of their leader. If a leader is passionate for the mission, the team will be passionate for the mission. If the leader passively approaches the work, the team will passively approach the work as well.

3. Demeanor

An optimistic and passionate leader will infuse the team with optimism and passion. A defeated and miserable leader will form a defeated team. Rarely will you find a happy group of people that are led by a miserable leader.

4. Responsiveness

A leader’s level and speed of responsiveness is contagious. If a leader is responsive to people on the team, people on the team will be responsive to one another and to the people the team is designed to serve. And the speed of the leader’s responsiveness sets the standard for the others’ speed of responsiveness.

5. Expectations

The expectations of the team will not rise above the expectations the leader places on himself or herself. If the leader tolerates mediocrity and lack of discipline, the team will as well.

6. Learning

Learning leaders lead learning teams. If a leader is not learning and adjusting, the team will likely not be learning and adjusting either. If the leader is learning and growing, people on the team will either ramp up their learning or eventually tap out.

The “speed of the leader, speed of the team” terminology is helpful but incomplete, as the leader impacts the team in more than just speed. Enthusiasm of the leader, enthusiasm of the team. Demeanor of the leader, demeanor of the team. Responsiveness of the leader, responsiveness of the team. Expectations of the leader, expectations of the team. Learning of the leader, learning of the team. These are just as important and just as true.