Studying more than 250 church leadership teams over two years, we discovered several distinctive features of thriving leadership teams. We investigated how the best teams interact, and in our recently released book Teams That Thrive: Five Disciplines of Collaborative Church Leadership, we unpack five disciplines your team can develop to communicate effectively and grow into a thriving unit. To preview the book, here are the five disciplines for effective collaborative leadership:
Discipline 1: Focus on purpose, the invisible leader of your team.
Great teams pursue a shared purpose that prioritizes making decisions together rather than advising one member who then makes key decisions. Mediocre teams spend most of their time advising the lead pastor, sharing information and coordinating operations, but they rarely go beyond that point. Exceptional leadership teams work together to do the most important strategic work in the church— making critical decisions—regularly and continually.
Discipline 2: Leverage differences in team membership.
Great teams pursue diversity in personality, background and perspective rather than democracy or uniformity. Mediocre teams have too many people with the same gifts, styles and backgrounds, or seek to include too many persons. Exceptional leadership teams are small, diverse and consist of members with complementary skills who concentrate their work on the leadership team.
Discipline 3: Rely on inspiration more than control to lead.
Outstanding teams prioritize leadership through relationship-based inspiration rather than role-based giving of directives. Leaders of mediocre teams prioritize control and directive leadership and neglect the development of positive working relationships. Leaders of exceptional teams focus on transformational leadership and the building of trust that together inspire and free the leadership team to perform with excellence while maintaining solid relationships.
Discipline 4: Intentionally structure your decision-making process.
While mediocre leadership teams make decisions in an unstructured, haphazard manner, exceptional leadership teams utilize a careful, step-by-step process while seeking God for his perspective and leading when making decisions.
Discipline 5: Build a culture of continuous collaboration. Exceptional teams meet with intentionality, utilize collaboratively developed agendas and work together continuously to make the most of meetings. In contrast, mediocre teams tend to limit their collaboration to scheduled team meetings, and even when they meet, they fail to recognize the benefits of effective meetings.
For more about how to put these disciplines into practice with your team, as well as a host of other tips to help your team thrive, check out Teams That Thrive: Five Disciplines of Collaborative Church Leadership.
Excerpted with permission from chapter 6 of Teams That Thrive: Five Disciplines of Collaborative Church Leadership by Ryan T. Hartwig and Warren Bird, InterVarsity Press, 2015. Visit www.TeamsThatThriveBook.com for the book itself, exercises, and other tools to help your team.