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Books for those in ministry organizations who desire to take their leadership, teams, governance, and ministry effectiveness to the next level.

28 Jun '13

Healthy teams

Posted by T.J. Addington in healthy teams, team


Consider this definition of a healthy team: A high impact ministry team is a group of missionally aligned and healthy individuals working strategically together under good leadership toward common objectives, with accountability for results. All of these same criteria apply to healthy church boards as well.

A team is not simply a random group of people thrown together because there are slots to fill - at least healthy teams are not built that way. Think of the team you are on or the team you lead and consider these key elements of healthy teams.

Healthy teams are missionally aligned.
They are made up of people who are all committed to the same mission and understand with great clarity what that mission is (see the last blog on alignment). Mission is the true glue that holds the team together more than any other factor. Non aligned teams are not teams because by definition they cannot be moving together in the same direction (the arrows don't all point in one direction).

They are made up of healthy individuals.
Too often we ignore the issue of Emotional Intelligence (EQ) when building team. Healthy individuals are open to the opinions of others, lack defensiveness, are aware of who they are and how others perceive them, are able to release people rather than control them, can engage in constructive and robust dialogue and have the ability to abide by common decisions.

When you consider the definition of a healthy person above, you realize how critical that is for a team to function well because in the absence of that kind of health teams will be dysfunctional and dysfunctional teams are never high impact.

They work strategically together toward common objectives.
Good teams are those where the members are committed to working syneristically together rather than simply doing their own thing and showing up for meetings and pretending it is "team." This means that team members embrace the objectives of the whole team and take the whole team into consideration in decisions that they make. It is about "we" not "me." Teams that are about "me" rather than "we" are not true teams and do not see the same results.

They have good leadership.
Teams are not led by committee. Someone must lead and provide the necessary clarity and direction and accountability but in an open, collegial atmosphere where robust dialogue is practiced and the team has ownership of their objectives. But there must be leaders. In fact, good leaders are those who can do just that.

Passive leaders cannot lead healthy teams and in the absence of leadership someone else will step in or the team will exist as a "gathering" but will not be team.

This requires team leaders to put a lot of time into team meetings for the sake of missional alignment, increasing the health quotient of team members (development), white boarding strategy together, determining common objectives and ensuring that there are real results. Team leaders cannot treat team meetings lightly if they want to lead a healthy team.

They hold members accountable for results.
This is not very popular or common in ministry circles. We focus more on relationships than we do on ministry results and do not exercised the discipline which teams in the marketplace must exercise in order to stay viable. It is sad, however, because the mission of the church and other ministries has eternal implications not just quarterly returns. Thus results matter, quality matters, discipline matters and measurement of how well we are doing matters.

Where there is no accountability for results, there cannot be healthy team. Nor will you attract or keep high quality ministry personnel who want their lives to count.

How healthy is the team you lead or the one you serve on? What could you be doing differently to raise the level of its healthy and effectiveness?