Team or Celebrity?

Currently, the football (soccer) world was taken by storm by an unheralded Leicester team that won through an emphatic season. Their was no stand out stars although certain names began to emerge. Similar to Greece in 2004 when they won the Euros with a group of players that were unknown to a wider audience. This is unusual, most teams will have a player who is considered a star and if the team is fortunate, they will have a number of stars (cf Real Madrid and their Galacticos).

However, it should be remembered that in team sports, a star player cannot win on their own. Think Pele with Brazil, Michael Jordan with the Chicago Bulls, Kobe Bryant with the Lakers. None of these celebrity players could have won on their own – they needed a team around them, most of whom remain forgotten in the mists of time but were essential to the success of the team.

So it is with Church. There are many who would choose to be the Apostle Paul (yet shy away from the persecution and suffering), yet even Paul needed his support people. Many would like to be the author of a great book, new course, on the platform at the global conferences etc. etc. but we cannot ever lose sight of the community of faith. We are all called to play our part and to engage with the mission. Not all of us will receive the credit, praise or be given a platform but all of us are called to love one another, seek each others best interest and to honour the name of God.

Let’s serve the team and be humble enough to accept our place within it. Lets be satisfied to be the Horace Grant, Steve Kerr, Brian Shaw, or Wilson Piazza on our team.

Let’s play!

Value the dissenting voices

So often, Christian leaders are looking for the team to have total agreement. Whilst we need unity in decision making, we must place greater value in those that challenge the status quo. Dissenting voices may not be right but they help to sharpen us. There are times they are right and we need to change. Whichever, we need to take them seriously as an ally and not as a threat. 

Do not despise the dissenting voice, heed the words, reflect and then decide. You will be stronger for it. 


As a follow up to my recent post on flexibility, there is a need to talk about adaptability too. Adaptability is different but also exceedingly important.
Adaptability is a gift that allows some individuals to respond with their changing environment. Plans may take a different shape and alter at a moments notice, this is when the team leader requires the skill of adapting. It is not every leader who has this ability but every good team has an individual with this ability. It prevents the project from grinding to a halt, it stops hurdles remaining as a permanent stumbling block and it is the ability to ‘find a way’.
If you are on a route for which there are no roadmaps, you need someone on your team who is adaptable….if you do not have that individual, then it may be wise to find them, before it is too late.

Hybels, up willow creek with a paddle

One of the sessions at the conference was led by Bill Hybels. He shared some good stuff that was good to hear again and refreshing in its clarity and directness.

Part of his talk was dealing with the need to attract, develop and retain a good team and he used his “5Cs” to good effect. They are:
1) Character
2) Competence
3) Chemistry
4) Culture
5) Calling

He suggested that, if even one of these is compromised there will be issues on your team and that it is imperative that the leader takes time to ensure these 5 things align.

Some of the sound bytes are below:
“It is not illegal to like the people on your team”
“A high capacity person under challenged will leave”
“The best thing you bring is a Holy Spirit filled you”
‘A contrarian point of view is ok, a contrarian spirit is not’ (paraphrase)

Teamwork Sucks?

One of the reasons that encouraged me to attend the HTB Leadership Conference was the attendance of Patrick Lencioni. I enjoy his writings and appreciate his communication style. In truth, I received far more all round than anticipated, the Conference was superb.
Lencioni did not let me down. On the 2nd day he spoke about team and used material from his book, the The Five Dysfunctions of a Team: A Leadership Fable (J-B Lencioni Series)
If you have read the book, you may well know his headings and the leaders role;
1) Absence of Trust – the leader needs to be vulnerable to the team
2) Fear of conflict – the leader needs to embrace difference of opinion
3) Lack of commitment – the leader needs to bring clarity and decision
4) Avoidance of accountability – peer accountability to be encouraged and difficulties confronted
5) Inattention to results – focus on what you are trying to achieve

His talk was excellent, inspiring and full of content. There were plenty of nuggets to steal away and if you missed it, buy the book, you will not regret it.

Book Review – dont step on the rope – leadership

Another leadership book you cry! Yes, another, yet somehow this one seemed worthy of a review, I enjoyed the read and found it useful.

In truth, this book is about leadership within teams and uses the analogy of Walter Wrights own rope teams to make his point  You do not have to be a mountaineer to follow the examples and the stories and most of the points that are underlined are filled with anecdotes from Wrights time walking the mountain trail.

The usual leadership points are made; relationships, responsibility, accountability etc. but there are some fresh ones too such as shared memories and humour, forgotten traits in many leadership tool boxes.

The book is easy to read, challenges in a gentle manner and is a good starter for a young leader who is exploring what it means to ‘step up to the plate’ and take responsibility.  By the end, you may even want to try some mountain trails yourself.

It is not the mountain top

We often equate success with reaching the top of he mountain – we set goals and once reached we can bask in glory. The truth is that this is only a part of the story. This last few weeks, climbers are using a window in the weather to scale Everest – so many that there are queues of people in places. As people climb, they can see the bodies of the fallen – some who never conquered the summit, some who did.
Success is not found by conquering the mountain alone – success is found in returning safely, the mountain top is just a junction on the journey. It can be too easy to be seduced by a ‘false success’ – returning home is the important thing. Success is the journey, not the junction on the way.

Meeting Overload

We are so used to meetings that we may sometimes find ourselves in situations where we diary meetings because we can think of no other way in which to operate. If you are in this place, you may find yourself in meeting overload.
It is not always necessary to have a meeting in order to get the job done or to communicate with the team. Time is not a limitless resource – unnecessary meetings destroy motivation, necessary meetings engage with people.
Choose wisely

absence of trust

Is it possible for a team to function when there is an absence of trust?

The truth is……unlikely!  There may be opportunities for basic functionality but for any team to progress to its full potential, team members need to be able to trust one another.  When things are running well and smoothly, the cracks can be hidden but as soon as difficulties or problems surface the inability of team members to trust one another will hold back the team.

Trust can be learned, mastered and developed….work on it – if not you will suffer in the mire known as the absence of trust.

developing the creative environment

As a leader, it is important to create an environment where the team can grow and develop their creativity.  How is this achieved?  Simple steps such as…..

  • listen to your team carefully – without prejudging them
  • honour their ideas
  • credit their ideas without claiming credit for yourself
  • continually seek opinions from team members
  • help the team turn their ideas into reality
  • thank the team for ideas and then thank them again
  • show them that you care – have a pastor’s heart
  • demonstrate with action as well as words
  • accept challenges to your own ideas
  • reward people for ideas – even if they are not actioned

none of these ideas will be new to you – implementing them does, however, take time and effort – that time and effort will be well rewarded