The Life of an Idea on a Healthy Team

Healthy teams allow every idea a chance to live…

The healthiest teams don’t contain an idea killer…

Healthy teams:

  • Brainstorm
  • Analyze
  • Test drive
  • Push back
  • Critique
  • Debate
  • Challenge

Every idea…

But healthy teams remain open-minded about an idea until it’s proven to be a bad idea…

It could be a short process or a long process…

But healthy teams give every idea a chance to live…

Knowing that…

There is value in the collection of ideas on a healthy team…

And…

Some of the best ideas are killed before they have a chance to shine…

Have you ever worked with an idea killer?

Are you one?

(This post contains a main idea…feel free to Brainstorm, Analyze, Test drive, Push back, Critique, Debate, or Challenge.)

10 Ways a Team Performs as a Team

I think we use the word team too casually these days. A team…at least a healthy team…is not just a group of people who perform a common task. That may be a group, but it shouldn’t be called a team. I’ve written on healthy teams before:

10 Characteristics of a Healthy Team

Signs of an Emotionally Healthy Team

You can tell a healthy team by how it responds to each other and how it performs as a team.

A healthy team:

  • Encourages other team members regularly…
  • Cares for the team member personal life outside the team…
  • Assists other team members during crunch periods…
  • Cross trains one another for different roles on the team…
  • Challenges each other when needed, working towards the best solution for the team…
  • Ensures everyone on the team gets credit for a win…
  • Applauds other team member’s success…
  • Values input from everyone on the team…
  • Defends one another from outside attacks…
  • Protects the integrity and vision of the team, even over personal interests…

The word “team” comes with a certain expectation that is more than people simply performing a function together. If you want people to feel and play as a team, then they must perform as a team.

What would you add to my list?

Have you served on a healthy team?

Have you served with a group who thought they were a team, but were really just a group of people?

Do you recognize the difference?

To Change or Not to Change…That is A Good Question

Determining when to make change and when to leave things the same is one of the most delicate decisions of leadership, but I know one thing for sure:

“It’s working” should never be the primary reason to avoid change.

It could be a reason. Not everything needs changing. Some things are timeless. Change for change sake sounds good but isn’t always the best idea. (I wrote about it HERE.)

But organizations and teams need change…

Change keeps momentum going. It builds a culture of change. It keeps leaders on the team motivated. And, sometimes, you discover something wonderful you would have never discovered without change. (I wrote more about that concept HERE.)

So while change isn’t always necessary, “it’s working” shouldn’t keep you from considering change either.

Which makes the decision of when to change that much more difficult…doesn’t it?

One rule of thumb for me…

If there hasn’t been any change recently…

Chances are it’s time…

I am always reminded that leaders want to be in environments of change. Leaders are most comfortable when they can explore, take risks, and keep things stirring. There’s a reason marketers are always changing things…it’s not just leaders who want change…people tend to like change too.

Sometimes leaders need to create change before change is needed…even though things are working.

Are you a fan of change, or do you resist it?

What change do you need to make just because you can?

Silence Can Be Deadly

You’ve heard silence is golden…and that’s true…

…but sometimes silence can also be deadly…

Especially in a team environment…organizational structure…relationship setting…

When working on a project, implementing change, planning for the future…

Keep people updated with what you know…

Even if you don’t have all the answers…

When people don’t have information, they tend to invent their own scenarios…

Silence can fuel rumors…

Fear, tension, and frustrations rise…

Those invested often become discouraged…

Morale is injured and enthusiasm wanes…

All emotionally driven reactions fueled by the unknown…

People will be more patient if they receive adequate communication while they wait for the final details…

If you want to keep progress moving forward…

Break the silence and share information, as you know it…

Have you experienced the pain of silence in a team, organizational, or relationship setting?

Share your story to improve this post.

Help Me Address Organizational Fear


 

We have a healthy team. It’s full of grace, which works well, since that word is in our name. We consistently laugh together. We encourage each other to accomplish our goals. As a leader, I solicit feedback consistently. (I even allow the staff to anonymously evaluate me each year. Read about that process HERE.) We are generally flexible and laid back as an organization, yet we accomplish much towards our mission. I’ve worked in lots of environments and this is a good one…a healthy place to work. I’ve written articles about healthy teams, many of them based on the team on which I serve. (Read some of them HERE, HERE, or HERE.) I think our team would agree we are a healthy environment.

With that being said, I’m not sure we have eliminated what I call organizational fear. I’m not sure there is 100% freedom to share what’s on a person’s heart. I consistently address this concern. I’ve even said that sometimes we are too “nice” as an organization. We need to challenge more, even enter into healthy conflict, but sometimes it seems we are timid towards sharing our true feelings; especially some on the team. Problems exist…people see them…they continue for months…everyone recognizes something is wrong….yet no ones brings them to the surface. This is not a huge problem, or we wouldn’t be as healthy or successful as we are, but for whatever reason, some I may not understand, team members at times shy away from sharing what’s really on their mind. I know this is not something unique to our organization.

Why is that? Have you ever been afraid to share what you were thinking in an organizational setting? What caused that fear in your mind? Help me figure out why organizational fear exists, especially why it exists in a church or ministry setting.

Is it because of:

  • A team member’s fear of making a mistake?
  • Controlling leadership?
  • Fear of taking a risk?
  • Apathy?
  • A false notion that conflict shouldn’t exist in a Christian organization?
  • Other?

Also, help me understand how to address this issue.

What does it take to remove this fear from an team or organization?

Let’s discuss organizational fear today.

7 Pillars of Great Leaders

Have you ever considered what the common traits are of great leaders? I call the traits the pillars of leadership.  I think about the question a lot, because I love observing leaders and I strive to be a better leader. I like simple, easy-to-understand answers, so I have asked this type question frequently through Twitter, to see what common agreement exists about what makes a leader great.

Here are 7 pillars of leadership I’ve landed on in my search. You’ll find these among all great leaders.

Vision – In something bigger than the leader…

Commitment – To a cause and/or people…

Decisiveness – To make the hard call others will follow…

Courage – To weather the storms of leadership…

People – Realizing that others matter and there is no leadership without some…

Passion – It’s what gets a leader up in the morning ready to face another day…

Character – It’s what sustains a leader and why others continue to follow…

How did I do?  What would you add to my list?

Make this post better by adding your own thoughts.

Doodling Leadership Tip – Addressing the Real Problem

I love the White board application on my iPad. I find myself using it to teach, when sitting with someone, think in pictures, and recently, just to scribble out a quick thought. I decided to periodically share some of them with you here:

Let me ask you to consider this question:

Could you be addressing issues, symptoms, reactions…attempting to correct a problem…but the real problem continues to be unaddressed?

3 Values of Teamwork

Recently I was asked a question regarding how we handle set-up on Sunday mornings. Grace Community Church meets in a school and so every Sunday morning staff and volunteers start arriving about 5:30 AM to prepare for the day.  The specific question was whether we have one person who oversees all the set-up.  The answer is no. We actually have a team of people responsible; with different people in each area of ministry.

Answering the question reminded me of the value of teamwork.  I personally believe that the way we are doing this is best.   I’m not opposed to one central leader, and in some situations that may be better, but with this task, I think the team approach is more efficient than one individual being in charge.

Here are 3 reasons I personally prefer a team approach for this function of our church:

Decentralized control – With one person in charge, if that person gets sick, moves, or decides he or she gets tired and quits, the whole church would suffer.  As it stands now, it’s easier to cross train, we can be covered for absences better, and we aren’t putting all our eggs in one basket so-to-speak with such a vital function as an organization.

Makes each task easier – Think about it: It takes about 200 volunteers for us to make a Sunday work and about 50 of those are heavily involved in set-up. Would your prefer to recruit 10 volunteers for a specific area per Sunday or the entire 200 number?  (I thought so!) Especially when working with volunteers, the easier you can make the task to accomplish the greater success you will have for the long-term. People genuinely want to do a task well, but have limited time (and sometimes experience) to do them.

Brings more people to the table – We like to plug people into leadership roles quickly.  In my experience, when someone has responsibility they are more likely to mature as a person.  When a person has a heart to serve others, they need something of value to complete.  Using a team provides more opportunities to assign leadership tasks.

If you have an especially challenging or overwhelming task to complete you may benefit from a team approach.  Breaking the function into smaller, more manageable parts will help you accomplish more and get more people involved, which is always good for the organization.

Just curious, do you work better as a team or as an individual? Does it depend upon the task?

Have You Ever Been Placed in Leadership Time-Out?

Recently in Costa Rica I saw a tradition that’s common in my country too.  A child was placed in time-out…  For a certain amount of time, a child is not allowed to play with the other children, has to sit in a corner and is basically ignored. I’m certainly not critical of the form of discipline. It works well for some children. We had one for which it would work and one for which it wouldn’t.

I definitely, however, believe there is a time when a “child” outgrows the effectiveness of the practice.  I don’t know that “time out”, for example, works for adults, yet I see it frequently.

Have you ever been placed in leadership time-out?

Leadership time-out occurs:

  • When a leader ignores you because of a mistake you’ve made…
  • When a leader avoids you after a difference of opinion…
  • When a leader is threatened by you so he or she keeps you at a distance…
  • When you have no relationship with the leader other than professional…
  • When a leader acknowledges you only when it’s beneficial to the leader…
  • When a leader has a set of “favorites” on the team…and you’re not included…

After my examples, let me ask again, have you ever been placed in leadership time-out?

In my opinion and experience, leadership time-out is often due to poor leadership skills on the part of the leader.  The leader operates more out fear or control than out of respect and empowerment.  The leader plays games more than he or she leads strategically.  The leader doesn’t have the maturity to lead effectively.

Great leaders learn to push through the emotional aspects of leadership so they can treat people as adults in every situation.

What other examples would you add to my list?

The Way a Leader is Expected to Respond…

Have you learned a valuable principle about your leadership?

The way others expect you to respond often determines the way they respond to you.

  • If they expect you to respond in anger…they’ll dance around an issue, afraid to confront…
  • If they expect you to respond defensively…they’ll only bring you the proven answers…refusing to take risks…
  • If they expect you to respond with condemnation…they’ll be tempted to only share part of the story…maybe none at all…
  • If they expect you to respond negatively…they’ll hold back some of their best ideas…afraid you’ll crush them…

However…

  • If they expect you to respond with understanding…they’ll be more likely to offer their opinions…
  • If they expect you to respond with in a supportive way…they’ll be more likely to share their dreams…
  • If they expect you to respond with an open mind…they’ll be more likely to brainstorm with you rather than without you…
  • If they expect you to respond with grace…they’ll be more likely to share the good, the bad and the ugly…

Leaders, how do others expect you to respond?

Fair or not…as a leader, the response others expect from you may help determine the way others respond to you. More importantly, however, is that ultimately that response helps determine the health of the team or organization.

Help this post out…share your experiences.  Do you tend to alter your response based on how you expect others to respond? Is this true in family and friend relationships also?