For any organization's senior leader, building and sustaining a healthy team culture is paramount, if not the first priority. Many lead pastors over-invest their time in 30 minutes of Sunday morning communication and under-develop the hours of team dynamics during the week.
From meetings to memos, much of the communication in the administration of the church (we could even see this as ad-ministry) is taken for granted as self-correcting or someone else’s problem.
All great leaders know that they are the first source of any problem within the organization, asking themselves: “What do I know about this situation, challenge, or goal that I have not shared with my team?”
It is, therefore, immediately helpful for the senior pastor to recognize what builds and sustains a healthy culture among their leadership – staff and volunteers alike. While that list is many, and so are the books written about it, here are three things that will tank your team culture if not kept in check:
- Mistrust. When your team members do not trust each other and the unique gifts or abilities that each person brings to the organization, they will question their motives or capabilities. Each person needs to recognize their place and understand the uniqueness of our creation and placement in Christ for accomplishing His Great Commission calling. As Paul wrote to the Ephesians: From him the whole body, fitted and knit together by every supporting ligament, promotes the growth of the body for building itself up in love by the proper working of each individual part. (Ephesians 4:16 CSB)
- Disconnection. People need people, and any endeavor that requires each of us to play a small part in a bigger strategy necessitates seeing and hearing from each other regularly. In the rush to work remotely for many teams, office camaraderie and the small touches that happen as people walk to meetings, restrooms, and coffee breaks fell by the wayside. In the church, so much of our work is soft and immeasurable (at least, we should see that what is measurable is not necessarily accomplishing our calling) that the challenging moments of face-to-face interaction, celebration, and presence in each other's lives are vital. As Paul reminded the Thessalonians in light of the weight of eternity in the work we are called: Therefore encourage one another and build each other up as you are already doing. (1 Thessalonians 5:11 CSB)
- Unaccountability. Many leadership authors have said that your standards as an organization are less what you talk about (or profess as a value or “team code”) and more what you tolerate. The day-to-day bar of accepted behavior and work product drive your team's week-to-week culture and the year-over-year effectiveness of your mission (the Great Commission). Being accountable to each other to be excellent at reaching and discipling people is the highest and best expression of our calling as gospel ministers. Too often, the bar of acceptable behavior slips (allowing gossip, infighting, and passive-aggressive non-confrontation) or the level of acceptable work slides (allowing volunteers to feel confused, misused, or even abused). A high standard of excellence can be a healthy element of your organization when your team is accountable to each other. Once again, Paul reminds us of this in his hope-filled warning to the church in Corinth: Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, be steadfast, immovable, always excelling in the Lord’s work, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain. (1 Corinthians 15:58 CSB)
The senior pastor reading this would do well to work on Trust, Connection, and Accountability over this next year. Otherwise, the team's culture will become a manifest source of sideways energy from the actual disciple-making call we’ve been given.
In every Auxano Clarity First process we facilitate, team building through trust, connection, and accountability is front and center. We use several tools for this, from personality tests to flip-chart constructs. One of our favorites is a tool we designed in-house and use in every process to build healthy, collaborative conversations.
It’s called the Collaboration Cube. You can learn more about this tool and even take a quick quiz to discover your collaborative style here.
To learn more about the Cube or how Auxano can build your team and team culture through our suite of vision clarity processes, fill out this simple form and one of our Navigator team will be in touch.
Healthy team culture is not a given, but it’s worth giving of yourself to achieve.