Most of what I know about ministry, I learned on a football or baseball field as a player or a coach. Here are some helpful hints I’ve picked up along the way.
1. Make every team member matter.
Make it a point to personally engage even the most remote part of the team. You won’t spend the same amount of time with each member, nor should you. But make sure each member feels connected to you and knows you value their role.
2. Value people over process or presentation.
It can be easy to be so focused on the end result that you abuse your people along the way with outbursts or unrealistic schedule demands. Nurture your people in and through your process (especially in seasons of high-pressure deadlines), and you will have a better end result and a team more willing to execute in the future.
3. Use what you have to get what you need.
If you have talent around you that you are not using, you will soon lose it. And, if you utilize the team members you have, you will be entrusted with more talent to steward. High performers on the outside will see the ways you use resources and will be attracted to your team.
4. Model the service and commitment you expect.
Nothing motivates a team faster than a leader who will roll up their sleeves and get in the trenches. You can’t live there, nor should you, but you can personally attribute worth by jumping into the front lines.
5. Connect the team to the larger vision.
Be deliberate about connecting the mundane and routine work to the larger goals of the ministry. Make sure the person (most on the edges of the work) hears you articulate the connection between their work and the team’s success.
6. Step back and let others lead…don’t be afraid.
When the leader is willing to hand over the baton and take a seat in the band, everyone gets better. It gives you a great training ground for future leaders and demonstrates that you understand you are part of the team.
7. Have a vision big enough to require buy-in from everyone in order to succeed.
If the goals of your team are so small that it requires minimal effort and commitment to accomplish them, that’s exactly what you will get from your team. And very soon, you will have team members that are bored and will look for bigger challenges elsewhere. Big goals + Big challenges = Big effort.
8. Be an active communicator.
Be a “noses and eyeballs” leader. Get out of your space and into theirs. The more important the message, the more direct the communication should be. Avoid memos, emails, and policy revisions as a method to reward accomplishment or correct behavior.
9. Don’t permit controlling personalities to dominate the team.
An uncontrolled and unaccountable member of the team can shut down the rest of the team. As the leader, it is your responsibility to lead everyone – even the person who doesn’t play well with others. Never allow one individual to destroy the culture of the team. And never sacrifice the team trying to placate a single team member. It won’t work.
10. Value service over talent.
If the team leader only compliments talent, those less talented will be frustrated and misunderstand their vital contribution. Make sure the values you celebrate with the team are ones that everyone in the group can aspire to achieve.
Mike Harland is the Director of Lifeway Worship. When he’s not directing 30+ employees, you’ll find him leading worship at various churches around the country, writing/arranging worship songs and/or, writing his next book. In his spare time, he loves playing basketball and spending time with his family. Mike can be found on Twitter @MikeHarlandLW and on facebook.com/Mike.Harland.37.