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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.

19 May '13

Ten indicators of unhealthy teams

Posted by T.J. Addington

Unhealthy teams cause a high degree of frustration for team members. The following indicators - if true of the staff or team you serve on would indicate that you serve on an unhealthy team:

There is low trust among members
Low trust is usually generated by an unhealthy leader who does not create a culture of trust and transparency within the team. Mistrust of one another, questioning of motives, or a culture of fear (fear of doing something wrong or crossing one's leader) are symptoms of low trust.

You don't really like to be with team members

This is a logical outcome of a culture of mistrust. Closed doors, secretive meetings, lack of cooperation and are indicative of a culture of mistrust and in this ethos, staff members do not bond.

There is weak missional leadership
There is not a strong missional emphasis by the team leader and therefore the missional glue that holds the team together and motivates its efforts is absent.

Candid and transparent dialogue is discouraged
Unhealthy teams know that certain topics are off limits and that transparency will get them into trouble. Team members keep their real opinions to themselves rather than run the risk of getting into trouble by being truly honest.

There is ambiguity regarding roles
There is not a clear delineation of what individuals are responsible for. Rather, than clarity, supervisors simply tell their reports what to do and that agenda may change on the whim of the supervisor. Staff is never entirely clear about what their responsibility is.

Team member are not empowered to use their ideas, creativity and gifts in accomplishing their jobs
Rather, their supervisor wants them to do their job as he/she would do it. Supervisors regularly step in and change what has been done, are critical work or micromanage their team members.


There is not a mentor/coach paradigm of supervision
Rather than serving as a mentor/coach whose objective is to bring out the very best in their team members, supervisors tell staff what they need to do, do not regularly meet with staff to help them grow and tend to be critical rather than a cheerleader.

Your leader lacks self confidence and self assurance
Threatened leaders make for a workplace of fear and intimidation because their lack of confidence and assurance often causes them to be hard on those around them rather than release those around them.

There is a low degree of collaboration
Team members "keep their heads down" and do their own thing rather than enthusiastically working with one another and guarding one another's back.

There is a culture that discourages innovation
Especially if the innovation is not the idea of the leader, who needs to drive each part of the ministry. Staff members are not released to dream, innovate and try new things.

If your team has five or more of these characteristics, you serve on an unhealthy team.

Team resources include The Five Dysfunctions of a Team, Patrick Lencioni and Leading from the Sandbox: Develop, Empower and Release High Impact Ministry Team, T.J. Addington