How Great Leaders Build Great Teams

By Matt Steen

The Secret of TeamsI am a fan of Chick-fil-A.

Not only do they make a fantastic chicken sandwich, I love the culture that the company has created.  In an industry whose typical employee turnover is 107%, Chic-fil-A’s turnover is a whopping 60%.  The employees that I have experienced have always been pleasant… responding with “my pleasure” after I thank them, and genuinely seeming to enjoy their jobs.  Whether you eat chicken or not, you have to admit that this is not the typical fast food joint.

With that in mind, I was excited to read Chic-fil-A’s Vice President of Training and Development Mark Miller’s new book The Secret of Teams: What Great Teams Know and Do.  This short book (125 pages) is a great primer for starting a team based culture in any organization, but especially in the church.  Miller stresses the importance of leaders focusing on talent, skills, and community in order to develop a team culture that will provide excellent results.  Without giving away too much of the book, here were my three key takeaways for church leaders:

  • Selection.  Being intentional about who is, and who is not, a part of your team is hugely important to your ability to succeed as a team.  many times in the church world we offer an open invitation for anyone to be a part of any team.  This approach, while it may seem wise at the time, can be an invitation for disaster.  In the teams that I have led, I have always been highly selective of who has been a part.  If someone lacked the core competencies required for what we were doing, lacked the time needed to fully engage, or was not able to fully buy into why we were doing what we were doing I encouraged them to find another area in which to serve.
  • Empower.  If your team is unable to make decisions without your input, or lacks the permission needed to proceed on an initiative with out running details by you, your team will not reach its full potential.  Once you have selected the right people, and have trained them in their roles, you need to give them the freedom to do their job.  Micromanaging or demanding that approval is received before making necessary adjustments demotivates a team, and forces them to depend on you more than is healthy.  While I am not saying that you shouldn’t be involved in the process, and overseeing what is going on, you need to develop a culture of trust that frees your team to do what they were hired to do without constantly needing to gain approval.
  • The Goal.  So often in the church world we make strategies the goal.  Kicking worship services, small groups, and teams are NOT the goal of a church: making disciples is.  Developing teams and effective leaders are a needed strategy for creating a church that impacts the world around it… but it is not the goal.  If building teams becomes the goal, your church’s focus will turn inward, and its Kingdom impact will dwindle.

How do YOU develop great teams in YOUR church?

Matt Steen

Matt Steen loves seeing the church thrive.  Currently serving as a Church Concierge with Church Simple, Matt has served as an executive pastor, youth pastor, and planted a church in Baltimore.  Matt lives on Long Island with his wife Theresa where he secretly leads a resistance movement against the New York Yankees (this might be the Orioles year... or not).  You can follow Matt on twitter (@matt_steen) or at ChurchThought.