Leading Teams with Care - Lesson 8

Team Dimensions (Part 2)

Understand the roles of creators, advancers, refiners, executors, and flexers in a team. Creators generate ideas; advancers interpret and promote them; refiners assess and improve them; executors implement them; and flexers ensure smooth processes. Each role has specific strengths and weaknesses, highlighting the need for balanced collaboration to achieve successful outcomes. 

Rick Sessoms
Leading Teams with Care
Lesson 8
Watching Now
Team Dimensions (Part 2)

Lesson on Christ-Centered Leadership: Leading Teams with Care

I. Session 8

A. Building an Effective Team

1. Importance of team building

2. The five dysfunctions of a team

3. Building a cohesive team

B. Leading with Care

1. The importance of care in leadership

2. Demonstrating care through active listening and support

3. Creating a culture of care in the team

C. Balancing Results and Care

1. Challenges of balancing results and care

2. Strategies for achieving balance

  • Learn to lead Christ-centered teams by understanding unity and diversity in team roles, drawing from the Trinity, and fostering growth and love, with insights from Genesis and Ephesians, while reflecting on and assessing team effectiveness.
  • Learn about the importance of caring for your team, trusting God with your team's vision, people, and resources, and cultivating Christ-Centered teams.
  • Explore the complexities of team dynamics, discussing the combination of diverse skills to achieve common goals, the challenges of being assigned to teams, the distinction between leadership and leaders, the concept of shared leadership, and the importance of relationships within teams.
  • Learn that a team is a small, skill-diverse group committed to common goals and mutual accountability. Teams require clear roles and contributions, aren't always the best solution, and are intentionally planned and maintained, unlike naturally forming groups.
  • This lesson emphasizes the need for a clear, common, and compelling purpose in a team, ensuring that every member understands, owns, and is motivated by this purpose to achieve effective teamwork.
  • Learn how to care for team members and create a culture of caring as a Christ-centered leader, and discover the benefits of doing so, including increased team member engagement and productivity, higher job satisfaction, and improved communication and collaboration.
  • Learn about team roles using the Team Dimensions Profile tool, focusing on the Creator, Advancer, Refiner, Executor, and Flexor roles, their characteristics, strengths, and weaknesses, and the importance of balancing these roles for effective teamwork.
  • By completing this lesson on Christ-Centered Leadership, you will gain insight into team building, leading with care, creating a culture of care, and balancing results and care.
  • Learn how to lead your team with care by understanding the importance of caring for your team members, effective communication, and setting clear expectations.
  • In this lesson, you will learn how to lead with care by understanding the importance of caring for your team, the qualities of a caring leader, and practical strategies for creating a safe environment, building relationships, providing support, and offering encouragement and recognition.
  • In this lesson on Christ-Centered Leadership, you will learn the importance of leading teams with care, how to practice it practically, the role of emotions in leadership, and effective communication methods.
  • Learn how to lead and develop a caring team, overcome obstacles to team sustainability, and gain insights into the characteristics of a leader who cares and a caring team.
  • This lesson on Christ-Centered Leadership will teach you how to lead teams with care, lead through change, and lead with humility.
  • Learn how to be a Christ-centered leader who cares for your team by understanding the biblical foundations, creating a culture of care, leading through change, and sustaining care for yourself and your team.
  • This lesson on Christ-Centered Leadership provides knowledge and insight into creating a safe and secure environment, promoting individual growth and development, building a cohesive team, developing a culture of care, and practical tips for leading teams with care.

Teamwork is the will of God for the people of God.

You will need access to the C.A.R.E. for this class. You can contact Freedom to Lead by clicking here to send them your first and last name and email address. A representative from Freedom To Lead will contact you about inviting you to the study group page and providing you with the C.A.R.E. profile.

Dr. Rick Sessoms
Leading Teams with Care
Team Dimensions (Part_2)
Lesson Transcript 


Well, let's talk about the advancer role then, because, Robin, what you're describing, it seems that an advancer can fulfill some of those needs for the creator for this reason. Like creators, advancers love new ideas. They actually love new ideas, but what they tend to do is they tend to take those ideas and advance them, thus the word advancer, within the team and within the larger framework for which purpose the people are affected by what this team is doing. So, to put it in another way, and this is very important to get, while creators tend to enjoy coming up with the ideas, advancers like to take the ideas and apply them. 

Now, what do I mean by apply? Two things. One is that great advancers are able to take creative ideas and translate them into language and images that other people understand, and so they are interpreters of the creative idea. They are wonderful at taking and using the language of the people, if you will, to communicate a great idea. Does that make sense? Many creators think in frameworks that the rest of us can't grasp, we can't get our arms around it, and oftentimes in churches, we find that there are wonderful creators, but the rank and file of the folks have no idea what they're talking about, and that's the reason why advancers are so critical. So one is interpretation, putting it into the language of the people, and secondly is championing that idea, cheerleading it, promoting it, publicizing it so that people understand it and tend to embrace it. That's the advancing role, and it's a very important role. How many of us are advancers here at the top? Fantastic, we have an advancer among us. 

Advancers are relatively rare; it's a relatively rare dimension, and I'm so glad that we have one. I have worked with many, many groups where there's not an advancer in the room, and that is something that is a great challenge for a lot of work groups. You may work on a workgroup that has no advancer; it's very possible that that's the case. We're going to go back and address what do you do if that's the case; we'll talk about that in just a few moments. 

So what are the strengths of an advancer? Can you think of any? 

STUDENT: They motivate people. They have a personal approach. 

Okay, they often are people with some sort of social capital, if you will, so that they have the kind of relationships that they can interpret for people and begin to promote those ideas so that they're positively received within the team or within the collective.

STUDENT: They just turn ideas into revolutions. 

Yes, that's right, that's exactly right. That's a good statement. Advancers turn ideas into revolutions. 

STUDENT: They can facilitate communication, and they can help other members of the team understand their roles and how it fits into the larger picture. 

Very good. Advancers tend to recognize good ideas in their early stages. They can recognize and say, now, that hits pay dirt, that's good, and they can sort of be that type of person on the team that affirms the creators because, you know, the creators can be off with the fairies sometimes, and I'm a creator, so I'm talking about myself. We can have all these ideas; it’s just none of them are landing, you know, but the advancer helps that plane land, so now that's something that's going to get some traction, okay? 

So, they tend also to be enthusiastic people. They tend to be positive and supportive of the ideas of others. They don't have to be the originator of ideas. Sometimes that becomes an ego issue, you know, for some folks, but the advancer dimension is somebody that can get excited about somebody else's ideas and champion those ideas to others. Now again, let's avoid the stereotypes of advancers. They are not necessarily salespeople. They don't necessarily have to be PR types, but, you know, sometimes we think of the used car salesman as an advancer, but it doesn't necessarily have to be that; an advancer can be a quiet person, and again, doesn't necessarily have to be the out front “Rah! Rah! Rah!” person, even though that’s kind of what that picture shows, but an advancer does have the ability to interpret and champion an idea to the right people. 

Well, let's talk about a couple of the negatives, the weaknesses. Sometimes an advancer can move ahead impatiently, before ideas have been thought through completely, and that's the need for the rest of the group. You know, the creator and the advancer can form a team, and they can be off to the races with an idea that's about half-baked, is the truth of the matter, and so we have to be careful again to understand the powerful importance of all these dimensions in what we do as a team. Does that make sense? Questions? Thoughts? 

Then let's talk about this refiner. How many refiners do we have in the room? Two refiners. Okay. I like refiners. I ‘R’ one. Refiners often have the role of devil's advocate, to say it that way. They help the team face the real implications of new ideas, implications that can get overlooked in all of our enthusiasm to get something off the ground. They often can identify those problems in the early stages. They tend to think about ideas thoroughly. They tend to challenge concepts. They tend to point out weak spots in a new idea that others may not see. They tend to create order in the team process. We all may have some refining tendencies. How many of you are second in the area of refining? Okay, there's two that are second in the area of refining. But the pure refiners, those that are highest in the refiner area, they often have the role of kindly and diplomatically saying, hold on, before we go any further, let's look at this thing a bit more closely. Let's even maybe consider some other options that may work. 

Now, what is the value of a refiner on a team? 

STUDENT: Checks and balances. 

Checks and balances. Okay. Keep them focused. 

STUDENT: Analysis. 

Analysis. They're good at quality control. They’re good at asking, is this a good decision? They're detail oriented. They have attention to carefully plan strategies, and they're analytical. They tend to suggest alternative concepts, slightly altered. They can be a practical sounding board. They can actually be talking to a creator and see pretty immediately this will work or this won't work kind of thing, and they're very, very helpful. 

What are the weaknesses of a refiner if a refiner is working alone? 

STUDENT: Paralysis of analysis. 

Paralysis of analysis. I used to work on a college campus with faculty members, and the vast majority of faculty members tend to be refiner types. I mean, they are detail-oriented researchers, you know, data, gotta get it right. They may have taught a course 15 times, but it's going to get right the 16th time through. In fact, I was just with some colleagues on a college campus last week, and I met a guy that has gray hair and has been teaching there for 25 years, and I said, “So what are you doing this summer?” And he says, “I'm refining my courses,” and that's a good thing, but there can be that refining, refining, refining, refining... It's kind of like, ready, aim, aim, aim, aim, aim, aim, aim... Of course, the creators among us are ready, fire, aim. So we need that balance, don't we? 

What are some of the other weaknesses of a refiner? 

STUDENT: Negative Nancies.

Okay, they can be negative Nancies, can't they? And that's good coming out of a creator's mouth, because I certainly understand that. What happens if a refiner dominates a team? Okay, the whole process can get sabotaged, can’t it? Have you been on a team like that ever? It's not fun. 

So, we're saying that each one of these dimensions is powerfully important, but if left alone can become actually a liability and cause the destruction of the team. They can also refine issues to death, as we know. They can polish the apple until it has no skin left; it's just the reality of refiners. 

And then finally, there's this executor-type person. Some of you use the term executor, and that's fine, but please don't use it on me. I'd prefer to live through this, if that's all right. But executors are incredibly valuable team members because they're the ones that take the ideas that have been advanced, that have been refined, and they turn them into reality. They're the ones that take the blueprints, they take the innovative ideas that have been advanced and refined, but if we didn't have the implementers, the executors, we simply wouldn't see things actually take place, and so they are extremely important for us. 

Executors tend to focus on the detail of implementation. In other words, as I think of executors, they love to carry out the team plan. They love to finish the job. I love to think of contractors as a type of executor. Once they have the blueprint that has been clearly interpreted and applied and refined and gone through that whole process over and over, you hand the blueprint to the contractor, and they build the building. Sometimes we think of executors as glorified secretaries, and that isn't the case at all. A good executor, once you hand them the blueprint, get out of their way, because it's a dangerous thing to give a contractor a blueprint and then two months into it, pull it back and say, I didn't want to do that. Let's start over. See what we’ve got? So executors can be very strong leaders in themselves. So what we're trying to do is sort of do away with some of these stereotypes. These executors are types that enjoy rolling up their sleeves and getting it done. So let's avoid the stereotype of the glorified secretary or the obedient, quiet, weak-willed type person. Sometimes that is what we think of as the executors among us. 

What are the strengths of an executor? Let's talk about that. How many executors do we have here? Two. Okay. Anybody with their second area as an executor? Okay, one. We have an interesting balance here. That's good; as a relatively small group, we have all four of those represented, and that's a very good thing. What does an executor bring to the team? What are the particular strengths of an executor on a team? 

STUDENT: They make it happen. 

Okay. They make it happen. All right. Good. Others? 

STUDENT: Keep people focused. 

Yeah, they can keep people focused. Once we’ve got this thing out of the blocks here, let's stay on task. Let's get it done. Good. 

STUDENT: I think they often remove roadblocks before other people even see them. 

Okay, good. They're assertive; they can be very assertive in the way that they go about their work, particularly once they have the plan in hand. They can be independent; once they have been given the task to do, they like to get it done, and they don't want it to get messed with, somebody to keep messing with it and micromanaging it. They can be people that hold up to a very tough standard, very high standards. So we tend to think of them differently at times. 

But let me talk about a weakness of executors. If executors don't have a specific team plan, if they don't have a carefully laid out plan, they can lose sight, and they can pursue irrelevant details. They can just be spinning over here in orbit by themselves, become almost passive-aggressive in a team context, and just kind of sit there with their hands folded and not very engaged at all and doodle on something that may or may not have much to do with the team task. Does that make sense? 

So executors are strong. They can be assertive. They can be leaders themselves . But left alone, they can spin off into areas that don't have much to do with the task at hand. Questions? 

STUDENT: I'm married to an executor, and sometimes she can spin off on her own, even with being pulled back and just continuing to go and go and – 

-- work on tangential stuff. 

STUDENT: Right. 

Tangential details. 

There's a fifth profile, and that's what we call the flexer. The flexer utilizes all four dimensions. Is there anybody here that is a flexer? Flexer is also a rare dimension. I don't find that popping up very often, and it's true in this group as well. A flexer is a person who builds team consensus because they understand and have a personal investment, if you will, in all four of the dimensions; they sort of score evenly across the dimensions. A flexer is a person who moderates conflicts, who ensures that the process, the team process, which we'll talk about in a bit, carries forward. They're good at adapting to other people. They're good at looking at the big picture and seeing what needs to happen. They have the ability to negotiate to make sure everything's happening. They have a tolerance and understanding of different team members and their dimensions when those dimensions can get stressed one toward the other. They're willing to offer suggestions to improve the team process. Any group that has a flexer, I strongly encourage them to pay attention to the flexers among us because those flexers can really bring a great deal of oil to the machine, if you want to use that language, but they bring a lot of ways for the team to function smoothly and without so much friction. Questions about that? 

STUDENT: Is there a downside to the flexer, or is it pretty much a positive? 

Well, that's a good question. I've thought about that, and I'm sure that when you get to individuals that are flexers, there's things to watch out for. But the only thing with flexers, I suppose, is sometimes they can feel underappreciated, and so they can get a bit down in the mouth and a bit morbid and rather melancholic on a team because they don't have a specific dimension that they feel like they’re contributing. That would be the only thing that comes to my mind. But they tend to be extremely valuable and need to be highly prized on any team, and let me just throw this in, and we'll come back to this: If you don't have a flexer on your team, then the leadership needs to provide the function of the flexer because at the end of the day -- we're going to emphasize this more later – at the end of day, it's not important, so important, that the leader understands his or her dimension, remember? But it's critical that we understand one another's dimensions, and more importantly, it's important that we understand that it requires all of these dimensions for an excellent team process to emerge, and so the role of the leader is not to capitalize and to emphasize one's own team dimension, but it's to pull out all the team dimensions that are necessary in the process as the team carries forth its work. That's critical, and we'll come back to that, and I'm glad that you've had the opportunity to look at your own team dimension, but now as we transition into the question of leadership, really, it's about having the big picture and understanding how these work together and ensure that these work together in order to get the best out of the team going forward. 

So it's about understanding our own dimensions and understanding the dimensions of all the other members of our team, and then there's a leadership to ensure that these team dimensions are used effectively, and we'll talk about how we do that in just a few moments.

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