The Ineffectiveness of A Team When There Is No Leader

By | Business, Church, Church Planting, Church Revitalization, Leadership | No Comments

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. But their ineffectiveness comes when there is no leader.

Granted, 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 have lots 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.

I have worked with a number of churches that have well-defined structures with lots of committees. The problem is they are too structured for effectiveness. And, many times, you have to be in the church at least a year before you could serve in leadership. In practice, this often means you have to be there for many years before you are ever “known” enough to be placed on a committee.

This process might work well for certain committees – such as finance committee, but it doesn’t seem to work as well for others, such as the garden committee or the usher committee. Churches need lots of people in those areas and need to be able to plug new people in quickly and let them get to work. Often in these circumstances, churches need more of a team concept than a committee structure.

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

At some point in time, a leader will need to stand up – and lead.

Any group of people without a leader is like an athletic team without a coach.

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.

Personally, 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 appoint 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.

I love teams. I just make sure every team has a leader.

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Ways I Lead as a Leader of Leaders

By | Business, Church, Leadership, Organizational Leadership, Team Leadership | No Comments

I have been asked the difference in being a leader of leaders and leading followers. It’s one of my favorite questions. The question ultimately points to a paradigm of leading people by which I try to lead.

I know I want to attract and retain leaders on our team. I don’t want a bunch of people waiting for me to make a decision or who fail to take initiative. Ultimately, I want people who will lead me.

Even though I have a leadership blog, podcast and book, it shouldn’t surprise anyone that I am not a perfect leader. I have so much room to grow as a leader. I have discovered, however, is the difference in how I lead if I want to lead leaders. And the difference is huge.

I could choose to be a boss and simply require people to perform for pay. To lead leaders requires a different skill set. It challenges the way I lead.

As a leader of leaders…

I say, “I don’t know” a lot. If I have all the answers, the team will have fewer of their own. I need to be leading people – encouraging them to lead – more than I’m instructing people.

I often have to admit “I didn’t know about that”. Whatever “that” is – until after a decision has been made, I simply didn’t know it was happening until it was. Granted, I don’t like surprises that may cause controversy in our church, but our team needs the freedom to “lead out” on things without my involvement if they are truly leaders. And if I’m leading well you won’t hear me say anything negative about what I don’t know, because I support my team’s ability to make decisions.

I encourage learning from someone besides me. After all, I don’t have all the answers. Some days, without my team, I don’t have any. They need to be learning from others so they can bring new ideas back to the team.

I allow people make mistakes. And I’m glad they let me make some too. It’s one of the best ways we learn from life and each other. This is created by culture. People know whether or not they can try new things by the way a leader responds when things don’t work as well as they team hoped they would.

I try to steer discussion more than have solutions. And I find meetings become more productive. Work becomes more efficient.

I believe in dreams other than my own. People have opinions and ideas. The best ones aren’t always mine.

I say “we” more than I say “me”. (Except in this post) A team is more powerful than an individual effort. A leader of leaders has a leadership vocabulary that’s inclusive of others. It’s not “my” team it’s “our” team.

I strive to empower more than I control. Leadership stalls when we try to determine the outcome. It thrives when we learn and practice good delegation.

I’m not afraid of being challenged by people on our team. I’m not saying it “feels good” to be critiqued, but I know it’s a part of making us better.

I seldom script the way to achieve the vision. In fact, I never script it alone. I try to always include those who have to implement the plan into the creation of the plan. And, by experience, it seems to be a more effective way to do things.

If you try to lead leaders, what would you add?

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4 Ways to Process The Emotions of Betrayal

By | Business, Church, Encouragement, Leadership, Life Plan | No Comments

There is a Bible passage that often causes a weird emotional response as I read it. Scripture should impact not just our minds, but our emotions. When I read this text there is often a stirring in my stomach. The Scripture reminds me of a few very painful experience in my own leadership and life. It forces me to reconcile again the emotions of betrayal.

All of us know what it feels like to be betrayed. It’s more common in leadership than you might imagine.

To understand the passage, it helps to be able to count to twelve. (Or at least eleven.)

Here’s the passage:

And when they had entered, they went up to the upper room, where they were staying, Peter and John and James and Andrew, Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew, James the son of Alphaeus and Simon the Zealot and Judas the son of James. Acts 1:13

Do you see what jumped out at me?

Count them. There are eleven names. Eleven. Not twelve.

One name is missing. One person was no longer in the group. I know enough Scripture to know why.

For three years there were twelve. They had been Jesus’ disciples. His closest companions. His trusted friends. Jesus had invested time, energy and life into them. Now there were eleven. One was missing.

The betrayer.

If you don’t know the story, another named Judas betrayed Jesus. For a sum of money he handed Jesus to the authorities where He was arrested, beaten and crucified. Of course, it was used for a divine purpose, but one of the disciples betrayed the others and Jesus.

Let that sink in.

Have you ever considered the emotions of betrayal for the remaining disciples? Did they miss their friend? In spite of his betrayal, he was a close companion on a mission. A team member. There must have been some attachment. Would there have been moments of bitterness, anger, or rage? Were they sad? Was there one in particular who got hurt most? He was closest to the betrayer, perhaps.

I don’t know. But I do know people and team dynamics so it prompts me to ask the questions.

As I reflected on their experience, I couldn’t help remembering some of my own times of betrayal. There have been a few significant, very painful times in leadership (and life) where I was severely disappointed by people I trusted most.

Have you ever experienced the emotions of betrayal?

We don’t talk about it much in leadership or ministry, but maybe we should. Those emotions are real. They are heavy. And, they are common.

Have you been hurt by your own betrayer? You trusted him or her. You may have even called them friend. They let you down. Disappointed you. Betrayed you.

Anyone who has served in any leadership position has experienced betrayal at some level. It could have been the gossip started by a supposed friend or a pointed and calculated stab in the back. Either way it hurts.

Learning to deal with, process, and mature through the emotions of betrayal may be one of the more important leadership issues. Yet we seldom deal with the issue.

How do you handle betrayal?

A few suggestions to battle the emotions of betrayal:

Grieve

Give yourself time to process. Be honest about the pain. Confess it to yourself and perhaps a few close friends. (I’m not suggesting you spread the pain farther than you have to. It only creates more drama. Unless there are legal issues involved it is best to keep the circle small.)

Don’t pretend it didn’t matter. It does. You were injured by someone you trusted – maybe someone you love.

Forgive

As much as it hurts, refusing to forgive or holding a grudge will hurt you more than the betrayer. (If you are a believer you have no option. It’s a command of God.) Embrace and extend grace. In the now cliche-ish words, “Let it go!”

If there are realistic consequences you can let those occur – and may need to for the protection of others. But in your heart let it go. Forgiveness is a choice not dependent on the other person’s response. It is the most freeing decision you can make. It may take time to do this, but the longer you delay the more you are still held captive by the betrayal.

Analyze

It is good at a time of betrayal to consider what went wrong. Was it an error in judgement? Do you need stricter guidelines for yourself or those you lead? Would it have happened regardless?

You can’t script morality but you should use this as a chance for a healthy review of the parameters in which the betrayal occurred.

Continue

You can’t allow a betrayal to distract you from the vision you have been called to complete. Equally important, don’t allow this time to build up walls where you never trust again or unnecessary structure which burdens the rest of the team.

There will always be betrayers as long as there are people. Jesus had them. They show up unexpectedly at times. And, if you read on in Acts, they replaced the twelfth person again. They moved forward in spite of betrayal. Eventually you will have to take a risk on people again. It’s the only way to lead in a healthy way.

Betrayers will come. The way we deal with them often determines the future quality of our leadership.

Join Nate and I for the Ron Edmondson Leadership Podcast. And subscribe now, so you won’t miss the next one.

7 Ways to Keep Leaders on Your Team

By | Business, Church Planting, Leadership, Organizational Leadership, Team Leadership | No Comments

One of the biggest challenges for any organization is to attract and retain leaders. Yesterday I posted 7 reasons leaders tend to leave an organization. (Read that post HERE.) The goal then is to find ways to keep a leader energized to stay with the team. I never want to stop someone from pursuing a better opportunity, but I don’t want to send them away because I didn’t help them stay.

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7 Reasons Leaders Tend to Leave Your Team

By | Business, Church, Leadership, Organizational Leadership | 2 Comments

If your organization expects to grow, you’ll need to attract, develop and retain quality leaders. One of the highest costs an organization has is replacing leaders, so ideally once a leader is hired, you’ll want to keep them. I was reflecting recently on why leaders tend to leave an organization, apart from finding a better opportunity. I never mind losing a leader to an opportunity I can’t match, but I don’t want to lose them because of something I did wrong.

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5 Ways Leadership Can’t Be “Normal” Anymore

By | Business, Church Planting, Innovation, Leadership | One Comment

If an organization wishes to be successful today, it must learn to think outside the once considered normal lines of leadership. Research after research has been done and book after book has been written on the subject of leadership being as much these days about the informal aspects of leadership as it is the formal aspects of leadership. In addition to a set of rules, policies and procedures, for a leader to be successful today, he or she must engage a team to help accomplish the vision of the organization. In an informal leadership environment, the way a leader leads is often more important than the knowledge or management abilities of the leader. That may have always been important, but now it is critical.

Here are 5 examples of how a successful leader must lead in today’s environment:

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