Leaders Must Manage Their Teams

For our purpose we will define a team as “a small group of people with complementary skills who have affinity for one another and who are invited, not elected, by an individual to do the following: achieve a common goal and place that goal before their individual interests, integrate their skills, and hold each other accountable to the goal.”

The most important thing to understand about a great team is that it is an entrepreneurial partnership between the leader and the group. If our world were civilized, predictable, and slowly evolving, we would not need to have teams that functioned like entrepreneurial partnerships. We would have a task group, an agency, a staff of professionals, or maybe even a committee. But that’s not the way our world is. If we want to find our way in the cultural wilderness of blur, flux, and speed, we need an entrepreneurial team. These teams are made up of autonomous individuals who choose to form alliances and networks with others. And it is the role of the leader to ensure that these teams promote the vision of the church.

Great teams work best in web-like organizations that function around a clearly defined and agreed-upon DNA: mission, vision, values, and beliefs. They do poorly in highly rigid, top-down hierarchical organizations. Therefore, the leader has to be able to lead without ruling, something that many pastors find hard to do. They either keep their hands off totally or they tend to micromanage. Either style is deadly in today’s world.

Still, at the center of every great team, we find a great leader. A great leader makes a mediocre team great and a mediocre leader makes a great team mediocre. Teams are only effective when there is the presence and influence of a strong leader. Teams do not replace the need for an entrepreneurial individual at the center of the organization.

In their book The Paradox Principles, the Price Waterhouse team reported on their study of several major successful organizations. In this study, they found that every organization with an effective team-based ministry had an extremely strong leader at the center of the organization. My experience is that in the absence of a strong leader, the negative aspects of the organization always take control.

To get started evaluating your main teams, make a list of the most valuable players on your two teams – paid and unpaid leaders. Once you have this list, rate them from one to ten with one being the absolute best person who needs no supervision and ten being a person who needs a lot of supervision. Start reconfiguring your staff so that most of them are 1s to 3s. You do not need to waste your time with non-performers, no matter how much you might like them.

Question: Who are some great leaders of effective teams that you’ve observed? Share your thoughts in the Comments section below.