Whatever organization or team you lead, the work is done through the people you lead. I personally believe you have no equity to lead unless you love your people and invest in the development of your team. When you have the heart of your team, you won’t have to worry about the work. Your team will give more and do more because they have a passion for the work and because they trust and respect your leadership.
How do you build a successful team? Here are a few ideas:
1. Love. Get on your knees and ask God to give you a deep love for the people you lead. The gospel is about God’s love given to us through Christ. Loving God and loving people is foundational in leading a gospel centered organization. Loving your people does not mean you won’t make hard decision but it means you will speak the truth in love.
2. Communicate. Clearly communicate the mission of your organization and repeat it often. The mission is the unifying force that aligns the work of your team. Communicate and reinforce the mission often. It should be central to every communication you give the team whether written or in person. The mission should be expressed through stories, strategy, partnerships – all that you do. If you can’t make the link between your mission and any action you take as a leader you need to pause and reconsider the decision. The mission is everything. It is why you are calling the organization you lead to give so much of their time and energy. People want to give their lives to something that matters.
3. Empower. Give clarity to your strategy so your team knows how to say “no”. One of the great indicators of a healthy team is your people being empowered to say “no” to the multitude of decisions big and small that will happen everyday. A healthy organization can say “no” with confidence even to good opportunities because they know the strategy of the team. Strategy gives a team guardrails, direction, and clear focus.
4. Build confidence in your team that together you can grow in ministry results, that you are confident in them, and you are confident in the future. This isn’t false confidence but build on the confidence we have in Christ. Confidence is built in how you speak about the team and the work of the team. Brag on your team and give individuals and teams credit for the successes of the team. If there is a failure, you need to own that as a leader. When your team can trust that you really do have confidence in them and you will help when there’s a problem, you will earn their respect and commitment to the work.
5. Create a learning environment where personal growth and development is part of the culture. Create forums for people to teach and to learn. It is your responsibility to create the environment for learning and to invest in the resources for learning. People must own their own development but as the leader you reinforce, affirm, and challenge development. One of my greatest joys as a leader is watching the growth and success of people on the team.
6. Creating a healthy team means you need to integrate people strategy with your mission strategy. That means you focus on leadership development, putting people in the right positions that fit their gifts, and that you move people out of the organization when necessary (after much prayer). When it is necessary to move someone off the team, treat them with respect and speak the truth in love.
7. Listen to your team formally and informally. Do surveys, listening sessions, one on one conversations. Walk around and have informal conversations with your team. I am learned so much about my team by spending time in their offices and asking questions about the pictures of their families. Each member of your team has a story. It is good to hear it. Be available to serve your team. If my team wants me engaged in an external event, met an author, do a video – it becomes a priority for me.
8. Pray for your team and be vulnerable and ask them to pray for you specifically when you have a team. There is nothing more powerful than the bond that occurs when you pray for someone.
One of the greatest rewards as a leader is seeing the development of your team. One of the young men on my team calls me “Momma, Selma” because I love my team like a mother loves her children.
I would love to hear your thoughts on having a healthy team.