8 Ways Some People Have a Hard Time Fitting on a Team

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Have you ever heard the phrase “odd person out”?

I’ve been odd man out numerous times. Some people assume because I’m a pastor I can’t also be fun. So, there are many social events I don’t get invited to attend.

We’ve all been excluded at some point in life for some reason. 

It’s a bad thing to be “odd person out” by no choice of your own, but some people actually place themselves in the position by decisions they make and how they respond to others on the team.

In fairness, it may or may not be a conscious decision they’ve made, but they simply don’t fit well with the rest of the team.

If unaddressed it can be dangerous for organizational health. Trying to build consensus or form team spirit becomes more difficult. Morale is infected by the intentional “odd person out”. Spotting this as the problem can avoid further issues.

8 ways people don’t fit well on a team:

Resistant to every change – Whenever a new idea is presented, these team members are always the first to say it won’t work.

Negative – about everything – These people see the glass half-empty. Always. They have a hard time seeing anything good about the organization, the leader, an idea – and sometimes life.

Always have an excuse – It’s not their fault. It’s always someone else’s.

Never have the solution – These team members see their job to point out problems, not to help solve them.

Hold opinions until after something isn’t working well – When something doesn’t turn out as hoped, they make sure everyone knows they were opposed to the idea from the start.

Talk behind people’s back – Rather than going to the source, they stir drama by talking about someone rather than to someone.

Refuse to participate in any team social activities – Who needs them, right? Why would they want to hang out with people they work with? They might get to know them – and let others get to know them. 

Don’t buy into the vision – And this often translates into working against the vision.

These people distance themselves from others on the team by the way they respond on the team. Have you ever worked with anyone like this?

It should be noted, this doesn’t mean these are bad people.

Many times, I’ve learned, these people were injured in some way previously. It could have been on the job or in their personal life. They may have social disorders, which need to be addressed. Sometimes they are negative about their own life and bring this attitude into their professional life.

Understanding why they feel as they do can help address their performance on the team. 

I should also note, I’m not advocating always agreeing with a team. It’s okay to have different opinions, challenge the system – and even the leader. Differing viewpoints help make us all better. The key is to do so in a spirit of cooperation, not a spirit of disruption. You don’t have to be the odd person out – even if you’re different from everyone else.

What characteristics would you add to my list?

5 Unique Coaching and Consulting Offerings from Ron Edmondson

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One way my coaching and consulting is unique in that I don’t come to you with a script. I can create a script, but have never found that as helpful when someone does that for me. Therefore, I coach like I lead, which means I let you write the script. 

But I have a few unique offerings.

I’m especially interested in helping you with:

Pastor/Minister Search Teams 

I love the work several friends of mine do at search firms. Still, I know a number of churches prefer to do their own search. This is where I might be able to help. I have worked with several churches now through this process and saved them money as well as time. I know the questions to ask and the right way to conduct a search. (Plus, with my network, I can likely improve the quality and quantity of your candidates.) 

Revitalization Coach 

I have had the honor of leading two successful church revitalization initiatives. Additionally, through my consulting and coaching I have worked with dozens of other churches through the process. Along the way I’ve learned a few things.  

Transitions Coach 

I’ve begun a lot of new positions and hired a lot of people. The way a person begins often determines their success long-term. 

First Impressions 

I have experience looking for churches. And it is hard! If you mess up a first impression you will have a hard time getting people to connect with the church.

Second-Wind Coaching 

People my age (56) – and even younger and older – are trying to figure out how to finish well in ministry. You’re not looking for a succession plan. Instead, you are wondering how best to “ramp up” in your last years. I can help you figure out how to leave your best legacy. 

I’m told often that the best way I help people is to cause them to ask bigger and better questions. Let me know if I can help you. 

Of course, I offer general coaching and consulting in church planting and church revitalization. Again, I don’t come with a script. I base my work around you. If my 35 plus years of leadership experience can help you, your church or organization, I would be honored. 

Send me an email to Ron.Edmondson@gmail.com to start the conversation. 

The Language of Leadership: When I Say WE and I Say I

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I was talking with someone about the early days of church planting. We had not yet officially formed a core group and the initial staff members had not committed. As I told my story, I kept using words such as “our” and “we”. Towards the middle of the conversation the person stopped me and asked, “Who’s ‘we’?”

The fact is I was talking about me most of the time. But I confused him with my verbiage by using inclusive words. I wasn’t trying to be confusing. It’s simply a habit I’ve formed. Team vocabulary is a large part of encouraging healthy teams. 

I love team-building so much I’ve disciplined myself to talk in a collective sense whenever possible.

It always sounds so controlling, prideful, and even arrogant when I hear leaders use the words “I”, “me, and “my” when referring to their team, church or organization.

As an example, take a worship pastor. I have worked with some of the most talented people. When I refer to them, I don’t say “He/she is my worship leader”. They are “our worship leaders”. I don’t want to portray to them or others that they work for me. We work together as a team.

Semantics?

This may seem to just be semantics, but to me it’s an important issue for leaders to think through. If we truly want to create a team environment we must develop team vocabularies.

There are a few times when I use words referring to me, such as:

  • When making a specific request – “I am asking you to do this for the team.”
  • When offering a personal opinion, which may or may not be shared by others – “I think we should…”
  • When asking a question or stirring discussion – “I wonder if we could…”
  • When giving a specific, personal compliment – “I want to thank you for the incredible work you did.”

When I am speaking on behalf of the team or referring to team members, however, I try to use a collective term.

  • There are so many opportunities. Let me check with our team.
  • We have been stretched as a staff recently. We need to pace ourselves.
  • I am so proud of our team.
  • What do you think we should do? I really want to hear your opinion.
  • Our family ministries have had an exceptional summer.

Those are inclusive phrases. My advice is to default to words like “we” and “our” whenever possible – even if people have to ask you who the “we” is to whom you are referring.

The more we talk like a team the more our culture will feel like a team.

Have you had a leader who abused team vocabulary?  

(You may want to read my post on a leader’s vocabulary.)

3 Things That Are Often Unclear On a Healthy Team

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Clarity is often king in organizational dynamics. Words do matter and clear communication is vital for healthy teams. As hard as it is for me to zero in on one idea, I know a huge part of my job as a leader is to help people understand our vision and where we are going next to try to realize it (as well as I know at the time).

While this is true, there is a paradox when it comes to clarity and organizational health.

In fact, in my experience, some things are even “fuzzy” on a healthy team. Indistinct. Muddled. Unclear.

As strange as that seems, in an age of instant and constant information, it’s even healthy.

Let me give some examples.

Here are 3 areas of fuzziness on a healthy team:

The lines of authority are often blurred

In some of the healthiest organizations I know, the organizational chart doesn’t matter as much in accomplishing the vision. It’s often unclear who is in charge at any given time. One person doesn’t have all the ideas or all the answers. The one “in charge” is determined by what is being attempted at the time.

Everything isn’t clearly defined by a written policy

Obviously an organization needs structure. Rules have to be in place. But on healthy teams, rules are designed to enhance, not limit growth. Rules help keep people empowered not controlled – and likely there are fewer of them. Bureaucracy diminishes progress and frustrates the team.

Granted, when everything isn’t clearly spelled out it can produce a lot of gray areas, which can even be messy at times – even frustrating. But removing all the hard lines around people promotes their individual creativity and encourages innovation for the team.

Things are subject to change quickly

Things like vision and values are concrete. They aren’t changeable. In a healthy environment, however, methods of accomplishing the vision are held loosely. There is no sense of ownership or entitlement to a way of doing things. As needs change, the team can quickly adapt without a ton of push back and resistance.

I am not promoting fuzziness. I still aim for clarity – whenever possible. Even in times of uncertainty some things, such as the values which drive the team should be clear. But, just as life is often full of unknowns – even messy – so is life on a healthy team.

Figuring out how to navigate through these times and keep the team moving forward together is a part of good leadership.

12 Bible Verses to Encourage Christian Leaders

By | Church, Church Planting, Church Revitalization, Leadership | 3 Comments

The Psalmist said, “I have hidden your word in my heart so I might not sin against you.” God’s Word can be a protection for our heart and soul. It can teach us, convict us, and challenge us.

The same is true for Christian leaders. The best leadership book is the Bible.

Here are 12 great Bible verses for Christian leaders:

Luke 6:31 Do to others as you would like them to do to you.

How much more successful would our organizations be if all of us approached each other in this way? Leaders, the culture of teams we lead will be greatly shaped by the example we set for them.

Philippians 2:3 Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves.

I’m convinced humility might be the most attractive leadership quality there is these days.

Proverbs 4:23 Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life.

Leadership is ultimately a product of the heart we have for others and the vision we’ve been called to lead. The heart impacts passion, motivation and tenacity.

Exodus 18:21 You will need to appoint some competent leaders who respect God and are trustworthy and honest. Then put them over groups of 10, 50, 100, and 1,000.

Don’t try to do it all. Surround yourself with capable people of integrity – empower, delegate – and get out of their way and let them lead.

Psalm 78:72 With upright heart he shepherded them and guided them with his skillful hand.

I love the imagery of a shepherd as leader. My friend, Larry Osborne, wrote a great book about the subject.

Matthew 20:26 But among you it will be different. Whoever wants to be a leader among you must be your servant.

Great leaders see it as their main ambition to help others achieve worthy goals they might not achieve on their own. “When you win, I win, and we all win!”

Philippians 2:4 Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.

It can’t only be “my way”. Leaders must be open to listening to the desires of others and incorporating them into the overall goals and objectives of the organization.

Matthew 5:37 Simply let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No,’ ‘No’; anything beyond this comes from the evil one.

Genuine honesty and transparency in leadership is rare, but so, so valuable – and effective.

John 3:30 He must become greater; I must become less.

Biblical leaders recognize the ultimately glory belongs to God.

Galatians 6:9 So let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up.

I have seen many leaders give up on something just before there would have been a turnaround – whether on a project, a passion or a person. Looking back on my leadership career I’ve done this many times.

Isaiah 41:10 Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand.

On days you are discouraged, overwhelmed, or feel everything is a loss – remember God is with you. He is walking beside you. Nothing is impossible with God.

1 Peter 5:7 Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.

Leadership is hard. Don’t attempt it alone.

Challenge:

Perhaps you should choose one or two of these – write them down somewhere you’ll see them often, and commit them to memory.

What other verses would you recommend to leaders?

7 Misunderstandings of the Leadership Vacuum

By | Church, Church Planting, Church Revitalization, Leadership | 2 Comments

Many times a leader can be clueless about the real health of the organization they lead.

The best leaders avoid what I call the leadership vacuum.

I once watched as a church crumbled apart while the pastor thought everything was wonderful. He always had an excuse for declining numbers and never welcomed input from others. Eventually the church asked him to leave. It was messy and could have been avoided, in my opinion.

Sadly, this could be the stories of hundreds of churches and organizations.

I call that the leadership vacuum. 

I have heard the term leadership vacuum used to describe the need for more leaders, but I believe the biggest void may be within leaders themselves.

The leader in a vacuum believes:

Everyone on the team understands me. It can be equally as dangerous if the leader believes they understand everyone on the team. Healthy team dynamics require a constant discovery of others, asking questions, exploring who people are and where they are currently in their thought processes.

Everyone on the team thinks like I think. The fact is, especially if it is a healthy team, everyone thinks differently. Remembering this and using it to the advantage of the team is a key to good leadership.

Everyone on the team likes me. Being the leader is not a guarantee of popularity. There is a level of respect which a position of leadership brings, but likability is based on the person – not the job title.

My team is completely healthy. We all like to think so, and we like to think we are healthy as leaders. The truth is health is often a relative term. Teams and leaders go through seasons of good and bad and a constant awareness of where we are at any given time is critical to maintain health long-term.

They couldn’t do it without me. Pride goes before the fall. Humility is not only an attractive character trait in leadership – it’s necessary for sustainability.

We don’t need any changes. Change is a part of life and a part of every organization. Where there is no change there will soon be decline – and gradual death. Good leaders are good change agents.

Nothing can stop us now. The very moment we think we’ve “made it” we are set up for failure.

When the leader is clueless to the real problems and needs in the organization, he or she is living in the leadership vacuum. The best leaders are aware of the vacuum trap and guard against it in their leadership.

7 Dangers for the Isolated Leader

By | Church, Church Revitalization, Leadership | 2 Comments

I was coaching a pastor trying to help a church grow again. The previous pastor left town after a series of bad decisions – some decisions the church is still finding out about each new day.

I was happy to help the new pastor, but I also had concern was for the pastor who flamed out too early. He didn’t finish well, left the church in a state of disarray and is now struggling to recover. 

Sadly, I see it all the time. From the stories I heard, I suspect this former pastor suffered from the same temptation any pastor faces. His number one problem, in my opinion wasn’t a lack of leadership ability. He was leading in isolation.

He had no one on the inside of his life who knew him well enough to know when something was wrong and could confront him when necessary.

There are so many clear dangers in leading in isolation.

7 dangers of leading in isolation:

Moral failure

Without accountability in place, many of us will make bad decisions, because no one appears to be looking. We are more susceptible to temptation when we are alone.

Burnout

We are made for community. There is an energy we gain from sharing life with other people. When the leader feels he or she is alone the likelihood of burning out, emotional stress and even depression increases. (If this is you, read THIS POST.)

Leadership Vacuum

The leader is clueless to the real problems in the organization and is fooled into believing everything (including the leader) is wonderful.

Control Freak

The leader panics when others question him or her. He or she tries to control every decision. They don’t want to be found out for not knowing all the answers.

Limits other people 

The leader in isolation fails to communicate, invest, and release, which keeps other leaders from developing on the team. And, therefore, the organization isn’t prepared when the leader does exit. 

Limits leader

The isolated leader never reaches his or her full potential as a leader, because they shut out influences, which would actually help them grow.

Limits the organization

In the end, the leader who leads in isolation keeps the organization from being all it can be. The leader sets the bar of how far an organization can go. If the leader is in isolation the organization will stifle.

Leader, are you living in isolation? Be honest.

Do you need to get out of the protective shell you’ve made for yourself?

The health and future success of your organization depends on it.

(I realize many pastors of smaller or rural churches feel they have no option, but to lead in isolation. But as hard as it may seem, and as great as the risk may appear, you must find a few people to share your struggles. I also have a reasonably-priced coaching offer. Let me know if you want more details.)

7 Indicators You’re Not Really on a Team

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In my world, the word team is used almost on a daily basis. Most of us want to be in a team environment. However, in my experience working with churches – and it was true when I was in business also – more people claim to have a team than actually do.

There are a few signs I look for when someone tells me they have a team environment.

7 indicators it’s really not a team:

One person makes all the decisions.

Most who think they have a true team culture will skip this one, because many times they don’t see it happening. But if everyone has to wait for one person or a committee to make a decision – it is probably less of a team than proposed. On a team everyone sits in a seat of authority. There is a mutual trust and empowerment of others.

Everyone doesn’t have a key role.

On a real team – all players are needed. They may not all play the same amount of time and they fill different positions, because everyone is valued.

There are multiple agendas.

One thing which makes it a team is everyone is playing for the same objective. Without this there is more competition than cooperation.

Communication is controlled.

Teams share information. They continually update one another on what they are individually contributing to the team and weigh in on decisions. Team dynamics are damaged when only a few people know everything or most decisions are made for the team – outside the team.

Conflict is seen as a threat.

Healthy teams work through conflict and remain cooperative and supportive of one another. Everyone is allowed to challenge ideas and offer opposition.

Every person is for themselves.

The greatest value of a team is in the collective wisdom and shared workload. When teams function more as individuals than as a team, members can become overwhelmed, frustrated and eventually burnout.

Celebration is always received individually not collectively.

There will always be moments where one member is getting more recognition than another. But, on healthy teams, wins are celebrated together. No one claims personal credit for the victories.

Those are a few clues which tell me it’s really not a team. You can call it what you want – could be a group, or an association, or even an organization.

But it’s not a team.

It should be noted. There are times when we don’t need a team. We need a leader who will stand even if alone and lead people to places they can’t yet see but where they need to go. I have found those times to be rare when I have a healthy team.

(If I can help your “group” better become a team, please let me know.)

My “System” For Handling Difficult People in the Church

By | Church, Church Revitalization, Leadership | 2 Comments

I was talking with a pastor that I coach recently. He asked me how I handle difficult people in the church. I assured him I didn’t know what he was talking about. I’ve never encountered any difficult people in the church. 

After a good laugh, I explained my “system” for dealing with difficult people, which has developed over years of leading. I never put words around them, but those words came to me as we talked. 

Here is my three part “system” for dealing with difficult people:

Love them

I think we have to start here as people of faith. We are called to love everyone. Yes, it is hard sometimes to love extremely difficult people. Frankly, I’ve encountered people in the church I would even label “mean”. There have been a few I’ve sincerely questioned their salvation at times. I don’t know how a Christian could talk to people or about people as I’ve heard some do. 

But I l have learned, especially in church revitalization work, that if I can’t love people I can’t lead them. Jesus even told us to love our enemies, didn’t He? Years ago, the Lord gently nudged me that if I’m loving Him as I should be I will love everyone in our church. So, in every church where I’ve served, I’ve almost had a standard-bearer for this principle. I know if I’m not able to love them I need to check my heart.

And I should mention that part of loving people is listening to them – with the intent to understand. Many times difficult people just want to be heard.  

Level with them

I have learned not to sugarcoat or gloss over difficult people’s actions. I’m not loving people if I allow them to act in unbiblical ways. Instead, I need to be honest with them. I view it as a part of discipleship. I have had to say to people, “Did you know the tone of your emails are harsh?” I’ve had to challenge some people who verbally attack a staff member. 

One New Testament theme appears to me to be unity in the Body. I am not afraid, therefore to challenge gossipers, harsh attitudes or power mongering if it is going to be disruptive to the church and its mission.  

Lead them

Obviously, Jesus is the leader of the church, but He has empowered some of us to serve in leadership positions. I know part of my role is to move people in a direction towards our mission. As pastor, I can’t allow a few difficult people to hijack the church or it’s progress. I’m not at all claiming that is easy, and it takes years of learning to do this well, but the work of the church is too important not to lead the church forward in advancing the Gospel. 

That’s an overview of how I deal with difficult people. Hope it helps you. 

(By the way, I’m opening some new opportunities in my calendar to coach and consult. If you want to talk about how I might help you or your church/organization, please email me at Ron.edmondson@gmail.com)  

3 Things to Know About The Future of Church Staffing

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(This is a guest post written by my friend Matt Lombardi. Matt has launched a new company called Shaar that I believe has great potential to help churches and ministers, by providing freelancers for every area of ministry. Check them out HERE.)

If you’re a pastor, I’m positive you’ve been bombarded with more articles and resources about reopening than you can read in the next 5 years. Your services are infinitely more complicated, but you’re still being pressured to maintain an online presence. And there are also millions of articles on that, if you’re interested.

If you feel like you are working double time, you are. You are effectively running two Churches.

We are all still in ministry for the same reasons: Spread the Good News. Make disciples. While the “Why” of the Church has not changed, the “How” certainly has. 

So how is the Church going to function in the future?

Here are 3 things to consider to help you put that into perspective. 

1. The future is online.

If you haven’t given much thought to how you stream your services, use social media or create content to be viewed online, you should probably start. These things are likely going to expand. This is an opportunity for the Church. 

People can engage with our Church from all over the world. They can interact with the Church on a daily basis. People can connect with the message of Christ in a variety of ways. 

You might find your employees online or find freelance work online. There may even be interviews online via video before people ever come into your Church. You might look up your candidate’s LinkedIn profile instead of their resume. 

2. The future is distributed. 

Distributed means that your team may not all work from the same place. Some or all of your team might be remote.

Distributed means that the Church receptionist may take calls for the Church while she’s home with her kids. Remote meetings might happen on a video conference instead of in person. Much of the work that people did sitting at a desk in the Church, they will do from their home office or the kitchen table or the park. 

Distributed means that the Church can fully function and fulfill its mission without meeting in person. That’s not to say the Church won’t meet in person. It means that someone who would not be able to attend your physical meetings could find your Church online and be fed without needing to step into the building. 

3. The future is project-based.

This may sound like a weird one.

Things like websites, graphics, social media posts, videos, podcasts and written content are being used to accomplish the mission of the Church. Preparation for a video is different than when you just show up to preach a sermon. There is an extra workflow that needs to happen to complete that project. 

While Churches will always need pastors and support leadership, they may not be able to afford someone on staff to deal with the project needs of the Church. That’s where the gig economy comes to the Church’s rescue with freelance solutions. When you have a project, you outsource it to get exactly what you need done by a professional in that field.

Recently our team at Shaar launched a huge study into the Future of Church Staffing. We’re looking at trends in how the church will “go to work” in the days ahead. Shaar is diving deeper into topics like remote work, how churches look to staff up in the digital space, and how churches prioritize tech-driven skill sets. By the way, we are randomly giving away Amazon gift cards to participants.

To participate in the study, follow THIS LINK.