Building a cohesive leadership team

Churches who grow and transition successfully depend on healthy leadership!  Central to healthy leadership is a spiritually unified group of key influencers. 

Local congregations seeking to not just survive but thrive in ministry put organizational health ahead of everything.  This is confirmed by Patrick Lencioni’s in his newest book The Advantage. It's not enough to have talented people and great strategies - you must also have high morale, clear communication and people who stick around long term to be truly effective which occurs when you are healthy.

A Transitional Leader or Coach spends a lot of their time working with the leaders of a congregation in transition.  High on the agenda will be time spent strengthening the first and foundational discipline of organizational health:  building a cohesive leadership team (next month we’ll discuss some of the other disciplines of organizational health).

The secret is to work less as individuals and more as a team.  As a coach, I play not my eleven best, but my best eleven [Knute Rockne].

The five qualities of a cohesive leadership team 

1.  Team members trust one another and can be genuinely vulnerable with each other.

The type of trust described here is more than the kind that says, “I trust you to tell me the truth”. It is the willingness to be authentic and real with each one another. 

God wants us to grow up, to know the whole truth and tell it in love—like Christ in everything. We take our lead from Christ, who is the source of everything we do. He keeps us in step with each other. His very breath and blood flow through us, nourishing us so that we will grow up healthy in God, robust in love.  Eph. 4:15-16 TM

Few delights can equal the presence of one whom we trust utterly [George E. MacDonald].

2.  Team members regularly engage in productive conflict around important issues.  

We’ve all seen destructive conflict where the debate gets personal and hurts relationships.  Healthy teams have passionate dialogue where the disagreement and debate is productive and results in the best ideas being generated.

Wounds from a friend can be trusted, but an enemy multiplies kisses.  Prov. 27:6 NIV

Conflict is inevitable, but combat is optional [Max Lucado].

3.  Team members leave meetings with clear agreement on next steps with a plan of action.

When people are vulnerable and able to turn up the heat on the dialogue so the best decisions are made, then clear agreement and a shared commitment to the next steps can be made.   

Put God in charge of your work, then what you've planned will take place  Prov. 16:3.

Great ideas need landing gears as well as wings [C.O. Jackson].
An ounce of action is worth a ton of theory  [Friedrich Engels].

4.  Team members hold one another accountable to the commitments and behaviors they agreed to.

A healthy team who trusts one another, has productive conflict, agrees on action steps will take the next logical step and ask each other how they did in holding up their end of the action.

Listen to advice and accept discipline, and at the end you will be counted among the wise Prov. 19:20.

Everyone needs a bottom line of some sort; everyone needs to be responsible, accountable to whomever it is they are serving [Bob Buford].

5.  Team members are focused on the results of the organization not just their own agenda or individual pet ministry project.

Effective leadership teams push past the tendency to focus only on caring for one another and getting along to engage in the demanding work of partnering with Jesus in His mission work. To accomplish the work Jesus invites us into requires healthy team work fueled and inspired by the Holy Spirit.

Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.  Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you.  Matthew 28:19-20

 Note: These five qualities of team health are presented in story format in Lencioni's book The Five Dysfunctions of a Team and revisited in The Advantage.

  How would you describe the health of a team you are currently working with?  What is the next step to move your team towards greater health?

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Times of transition are windows of opportunity for churches to experience transformational turning points toward health and mission.

The goal of the Transitional Leadership Ministries is to train, resource and support those involved in this important area of Church health and help churches and denominations become better informed about this crucial time in a congregations life.

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