As a young boy, I was not a great athlete. I wasn’t even a good one. I was skinny, had no confidence, nor any gift or skill of athleticism. But I loved sports! What I lacked in skill or gifting, I made up with hustle and effort. Consequently, when it came to choosing up teams, I was one of the last, if not the last, to be chosen. Come to think of it, a lot of my life has been like that.
I don’t know how I developed a love for sports, since my dad wasn’t a sports fan. But I loved baseball! To this day, I’m a true-blue LA Dodgers fan, even though I live in FL. I enjoy team sports, but know that having good athletes is not the secret to having a great team. So, how do you build a solid leadership team?
How do you start building?
Always start with a solid foundation. Just as with building a home, or any building, a good, solid foundation is critical. The classic example? The leaning Tower of Pisa.
[bctt tweet="When building a leadership team, always start with a solid foundation"]
When it comes to a ministry team within a church or other ministry, a solid relationship with Jesus needs to be priority one. This is where I left off in last week's post. This is also true for any business venture involving Christian believers. If relationship with the Lord isn't priority one, the venture will be built on shaky ground. When it comes to ministry work, this should be obvious.
I see at least five components needed for building a leadership team on solid ground—humility, purposeful vision, commitment, respect, and shared responsibility. Sorry, no clever acronym, and all the points don't start with the same letter. I just couldn't make that happen, so I'll try to keep it short.
Since a personal relationship with Jesus is our best foundation, lets consider Him as a leader. Want was Jesus like at His core? His very essence? Here it is in His own words—
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matt 11:28-30 NIV)
First of all, He tells us what His nature is—gentle and humble. Hmmm, doesn't sound much like what we tend to value in a leader, but there you go. As I mentioned last week, Paul (Phil 2:5-8) and Peter (1 Peter 5:1-5) stress the importance of this as a leadership quality. Humility is an important value for a healthy leadership team.
[bctt tweet="Jesus' humble leadership style is much different from most leaders"]
There are some encouraging promises given. Jesus will give us rest when we look to Him as our first priority—a rest for our souls—an internal rest. And, He promises a good working situation with Him as our senior partner—our genuinely humble leader.
Most vision or mission statements I've seen try to be pithy and powerful. However, in some cases it's just a statement without action to back it up. For a vision to propel a leadership team forward, it needs to be purposeful.
A vision that inspires and motivates people needs to have a clear sense of purpose and scope. The vision has a mission built into it. It answers these two questions—
- What is the distinct reason for why we exist as a team? [purpose]
- Who are we leading and serving, and how will we do this? [scope]
[bctt tweet="Vision that inspires and motivates needs to have a clear purpose and scope"]
There's the old fable about a pig and a chicken regarding their different levels of commitment to a breakfast of ham and eggs. Obviously, the pig has to die to contribute to the breakfast, while the chicken continues to live after contributing the eggs.
Real commitment requires risk. It's a matter of trust, even when a certain level of confidence exists. When building a leadership team, commitment is essential, but everyone needs to buy in to what ever the mission is. This is why the vision, which expresses whatever the mission is, must be purposeful and clear.
[bctt tweet="Real commitment requires the willingness to risk and trust"]
Respect is a valuable, but often underrated, even neglected element of a solid leadership team. With team sports, the more respect and trust (commitment) each member has for the others, the more likely the team will function at a high level.
Over and over, teams that play well together, but without superstars, defeat teams laden with talent who lack team unity. Members of a solid team will say they "have one another's back" as an expression of commitment and respect.
[bctt tweet="Respect is a valuable, but underrated and neglected element of leadership"]
Respect also needs to be shown when things don't go as expected or wanted. This is where members of a team realize the intrinsic value of each member. The famous quote by Alexander Dumas, in The Three Musketeers, expresses this idea— "All for one and one for all, united we stand divided we fall."
This is where a team becomes a real team. Each person needs to realize that their area of responsibility is not just theirs alone. The "all for one..." quote applies, once again. A team is a complementary relationship. Each member fills a role, and the strengths of one member flow over and fill the weaknesses of others.
[bctt tweet="A team is a complementary relationship, where strengths and weaknesses fit together"]
The church, the Body of Christ, is to be a model of this, as the apostle Paul points out in his first epistle to the Corinthians (1 Cor 12:14-27), and in other epistles.
For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you. For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. (Rom 12:3-5 NIV)
These traits—humility, purposeful vision, commitment, respect, and shared responsibility—based on a solid foundation, are a good start in building a healthy leadership team.
What are your thoughts on these traits?
What's your experience with leadership teams—good or bad?