Lecture 6: Managing Great Teams
The next five rules of good teams are to pay attention to follower readiness, treat people with dignity and respect, steward resources with wisdom, keep everyone focused on the mission and communicate with your team.
A. The third rule:
you need to be convinced that you can’t do it by yourself, you need a team and you have to build that team with the best people. You need to pay attention to follower readiness. Everyone will be at different levels. Paul Hersey wrote a book entitled Situational Leadership in which he talks about the readiness of followers. There is a readiness level that requires a matching leadership level. If the readiness level of someone on your team says that ‘I don’t want to’ and ‘I can’t’. That will require a different kind of leader than with someone who says that they can and want to. The point that Hersey makes is, as people move and shift in their readiness, your leadership has to shift. The mistake is keeping the leadership level the same. To use an illustration: as your kids mature from I don’t want to but come to a point of saying I want to and I know how. Sometimes the leadership levels of the parents stay the same which means that they are still controlling and dominant. It is just like when a leader is very passive and saying that you figure it out. So you have to pay attention to where people are on your team and you have to be a different kind of leader with each team member. Some team members can do what is required and some can’t; some are willing and some are not willing. You have to adapt and shift.
B. The fourth rule:
You need to treat people with dignity and respect. You need to honor someone’s very basic words. In our context as a church, leaders know that we are all made in the image of God. So, we come with great value because of that. We know that one needs to be encouraged. In treating people with dignity and respect you need to encourage people; we live for encouragement. Sometimes, a person can give a word of encouragement to us which gets us through a whole week. Extraordinary achievements don’t come easily and they seldom bloom in barren and unappreciative settings. Some people are very hard to please and they find it difficult to encourage. In treating people with dignity, they need to know that they are needed. There is a need by people for boundaries; skillful leaders respect boundaries and they respect roles and responsibility and they respect lines of authority. They are very careful about sexual misjudgment, for example; saying things that are very inappropriate or people being given the same task over and over again. Some of these boundaries include intrusion or confusion in not knowing what they are supposed to do. Leadership has to be careful in building comradery and chemistry where you open up and share emotionally realizing that you have gone over a line. You have shared something that people really didn’t need to hear. A leader has to be really skillful in terms of what you respect in terms of boundaries.
There is also a need for meaning and fulfilment. A friend of mine in Shell says that it is fulfilment and not money that drives teams. This includes satisfaction, feeling like you are part of something really big. There is that famous quote by Steve Jobs, either give yourself to sugared water or come with us, we are going to change the world. Interestingly, the person he said this to became the CEO and then fired Steve Jobs. As you know, Steve Jobs was a jerk in the way he treated people. He would have his engineers work for weeks and months on a project and Steve Jobs would say that the work was crap. This is how he treated people and a lot of people didn’t put up with it. A lot of people got burned out and left Apple Computers. Those who stayed felt that they were seriously changing culture and Apple did in fact change the culture. Some were passionate about working with Steve Jobs after he came back, because they felt that they were part of a cause. I have said that the key to leadership is building teams. Attracting and finding the right people requires you to be sold on the fact that you are doing something significant. For us, the great thing is that we are changing the world. Most of the people in the church I pastored in the Netherlands were high level cooperate people who were sent abroad to work in Europe. I really loved meeting with them on Tuesday mornings. I ask one person who was in charge of producing American dog food how his work was going. He replied, ‘John, its only dog food.’ I realize that with Christians what matters is the mission of Jesus. So, some great businessmen and leaders have taken something simple and gave it potential and thus have changed the world with it. They take the simply and make it profound. For those of us who are passionate about leadership and building teams; is there anything more profound than changing the human heart of people and changing their eternal destination? Do you know of anything greater? I like to tell people that the hope of the world is the church and the hope of the church is its future leaders. Can there be anything more exciting? Sometimes we lose sight of these things.
C. The Fifth Rule:
Leadership and teamwork is based on good stewardship. A leaders’ job is to leverage people’s ability and capability in order to become something really great. Another quote from Maxwell, ‘wrong people in wrong places creates regression, and wrong people in the right place creates frustration; right people in the wrong place is confusion but right people in the right place is progression and a right person in the right place is multiplication.’ This is part of managing, getting to this place. I like the word convergent which is where things converge. Convergence is where you find your sweet spot, your best ability, with your best talent and your giftedness which matches up with the best opportunity. Bobby Clinton in his book on leadership years ago defined convergence in this way. As leaders we want to help people find convergence, where the sweet spot matches up with the opportunity. Years ago when I was working in Europe, I was invited to take a job in Austria to lead a particular ministry. It was this castle in the middle of the Alps. I got into Munich and then drove down to the castle and got my room. The next morning I stepped out on the terrace and Alps was all around me. I told Heather that this was God’s will! But she eventually realized that it wasn’t my sweet spot. I know, but I can make it my sweet spot! No, it just didn’t match up. Bobby Clinton does say that not many people get to convergence in their life; those who do get to their sweet spot move to an afterglow. This means that you can mentor and shape the next set of leaders; you have that to share with them. So, as leaders, we can help people get to that place of convergence. Don’t force people to do things that are not them, just because you need a spot filled. That is not the way to treat people. Organizations often make a huge mistake in assigning their best people to put out fires; to deal with problems. This is the deadly business end. Within the church, when I find out there is a problem with a person, our tendency is to take our very best leaders to deal with that. In doing this, the organization simply stops and then starts and stops and then starts again in dealing with this.
D. The Sixth Rule:
Keep everyone focused on the mission and on the vision. We want people to see beyond the job; it is a mission. We are all on a mission and we are out to change the world. We need to communicate with the team. We need to have a high regard to basic communication skills. You need to know how to communicate. Sometimes an email works but sometimes it is inappropriate to use an email. Sometimes people share things with me through email that really should be shared through personal contact. These mistakes are increasing due to the communications age we live in. For example on face book; there are a lot of things said that should never be said. We are going to have to negotiate more and more which media we need to use to communicate certain information. I have actually heard of people being fired through an email. We need to practice the ‘7-11’ principle with our team which says that the average message needs to be repeated between seven to eleven times before it sinks in. I sometimes find with my staff that I don’t repeat myself enough. This is also the great challenge of preaching every weekend. Sometimes I think that it is so clear but it isn’t. There is also visibility; what is required in communicating with the team is to get out of your office; leadership is not an arm’s length proposition. The last thing is to be clear and not ambiguous. If you have an agenda, then tell people about it.