The Ineffectiveness of A Team Without a Leader

I’ve seen many leaders make a common mistake. They believe in teams, so they create a bunch of them. They charge the teams with carrying out a specific mission or an assigned task. The team is part of a accomplishing the greater vision.

And, it’s a great concept. I believe in teams.

I even love the word – TEAM! It sounds cooperative. Energy-building. Inclusive.

I think we should always strive to create great teams.

But, here’s what often happens. The team doesn’t work. Nothing gets accomplished. There may be a lot of meetings, but there is no real forward movement.

The team flounders.

Why? They had a great team. The team was full of great people. They were part of a great vision and everyone may have known exactly what they hoped to accomplish.

But, this is where the common mistake exists among many teams.

They never had a leader.

When I arrived at our current church we had a committee structure in place. Committees were well-defined in their tasks. They had rotating terms and an appointed chairman. The problem was they were too structured for effectiveness. Plus, you had to be in the church at least a year before you could serve on them – which, in practice often means you have to be there for many years before you were ever “known” enough to be placed on a committee.

This process worked well for certain committees – such as finance committee, which we still have, but it didn’t seem to work at well for others, such as the garden committee or the usher committee. We needed lots of people in those areas and needed to be able to plug new people in quickly and let them get to work. We needed more of a team concept than a committee structure.

But, even with teams – the mistake comes when no one is ever appointed a leader.

Teams are great, but at some point in time, a leader will need to stand up – and lead.

An organizational team without a leader is like an athletic team without a coach. Would you recommend that for your favorite sports team?

I love leading through teams, but in addition to making sure people know what’s expected of them, we have to make sure every team has a leader.

I try to never appoint or release a team to do work until we make sure a leader is chosen. They can choose their own leader, we can apppoint one for them, or they may even have co-leadership, but there needs to be someone who has the assigned task of steering, motivating and leading the team to accomplish it’s mission.

Love teams – but, make sure every team has a leader.

Have you seen a leaderless team flounder?

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Ron Edmondson

Author Ron Edmondson

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Join the discussion 11 Comments

  • I think we all have seen teams flounder in leaderless situations. As John Maxwell says, everything rises and falls on leadership. Thanks for sharing your observations. I hope many will take your advice to heart.

  • Brent Dumler says:

    True! Five years ago I was on staff with an amazing staff team. We just 'clicked' well. We all shared eachother's work load and passion for each ministry. The Lead Pastor, however, wasn't in a good place to lead well and the result was a 100% overhaul of the staff. I still wonder sometimes, "What could have been?"
    I share all that to say, when you experience a great staff and a great leader…YOU HAVE FOUND GOLD! Treat it as such 🙂

  • […] Danger: A Team Without A Leader . . .  This comes from Ron Edmondson. It is brief and to the point. Let’s not have leaderless teams. […]

  • kmac4him

    Yes I have, I am watching it right now as people I love are moving forward on a staff after their senior pastor fell into sin and they have decided they don’t need a senior pastor, that they can run the church with the pastor staff they have and not have one person lead and you can see the confusion and chaos that has ensued… sad… and this is some great wisdom today! Thank you! I really do believe that putting this into practical practice in staff meetings of every department where the staff people bring up the names of people who are already operating in gifts and serving, but don’t have a leadership position title, but are already being a leader. Because I believe a servant leader is not given the title of leader because they have gifts, but are given the title because they are using those gifts, serving and being the leader and we on staff give them the leadership title that they are already performing unto God. Recognize the people in your area who are serving and leading, because these are the servant leaders who will be your future titled leaders.

  • Joe Lalonde says:

    You got all Yoda-ish there with the Create great teams, I believe you should. Loved it.

    How would you recommend finding a leader for the teams you build?

    • ronedmondson says:

      Depends on the group. If there's a definite leader you want driving the vision, appoint them when you appoint the team. If there's not, then let the leader rise out of the first meeting, but make that their first assignment.

  • […] every team need a leader —Many leaders create teams. They charge them with carrying out a mission…an assigned task…part of a great vision. But the team doesn’t work. Why? They had a great team. But, they didn’t have a leader. Never appoint a team until a leader is chosen. — ronedmondson […]

  • bryankr

    I was on a committee, at Church, that had several good members. Not one of us were excited about being on the committee because the staff member in charge of them, never took an active part! He came, saw how many were in attendance, said thanks for the good work(?), then left. We never knew what we were supposed to do!
    Then we hired a new staff member to take his place, and he was all about being active! We suddenly had a plan, a vision, a reason to be there and achievements! It was wonderful!!

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