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fullsizeoutput_602One of my loves is rafting and part of what I like about it is that everyone needs to work as a team, everyone plays an important role and everyone is in tune with what their team mates are doing. If someone isn’t doing their job, others speak up. After you’ve shot a series of rapids, there’s a sense of shared accomplishment.

How might we make team dynamics more like a rafting experience? Perhaps when we gather for meetings, we’d be clear about what we’re trying to accomplish and what each person’s role will be. Perhaps we’d be more fully engaged in the conversation and aware of the support others might need. Are we willing to get out of comfort zones and be vulnerable with each other? We definitely wouldn’t be reading and replying to emails!

A church leader recently said to me, “I just try to get my work done in spite of our lousy meetings and lack of teamwork.” When I asked him why he puts up with the current situation he said, “I don’t want to step on anyone’s toes.”

Our willingness to accept counterproductive behavior and our unwillingness to “step on toes” are examples of what I call “enemies of excellence” that often permeate our teams. I think it’s time to raise the bar on we how we team together in the future.

What are some “enemies of excellence” that you experience within your team settings? What are you willing to do in the future to build better teams?

Some Toughts (5)

  1. Reply

    […] Building Better Teams (leadingonpurpose.org) […]

  2. Pam
    added on 3 Jul, 2011

    We can be our own worst enemy when it comes to excellence. So we need to step outside of our safe comfort zone and challenge ourselves to achieve excellence. This is a great way to lead by example for our teams.

    I love the rafting story. When I hear that example it can help us realize how important everyone’s role is in the team. Everyone needs to follow through with their roles in order to complete the the trip. One or two people not completing there role could have a very different outcome.

    So how do you strive for excellence and encourage others to do the same without offending someone? Might be a very thin line.

  3. Nicole
    added on 7 Jul, 2011

    I agree with Pam that rafting is a wonderful metaphor for working with a team. I think the reality is that if we are truly striving toward excellence, we need to be a little less concerned with stepping on toes. There are many ways we can tell “the truth in love” to our fellow teammembers that will help make them less defensive. But, the reality is that they still may be offended or hurt. In my reading of the gospel, Jesus often told his disciples and others how they needed to improve, and he didn’t always say it in the most tactful way. Why should we strive for an ideal that Jesus didn’t even manage to live up to? Or even try to live up to?

  4. Heidi
    added on 10 Oct, 2011

    Speaking the truth in love is what Jesus did. I think we live in a society that has become so afraid to offend someone, that we just don’t say anything at all. In a team setting, this becomes counter-productive. If something is wrong, and we are too afraid to say anything about it, whatever we are working toward will never have the chance to fully become what God intends it to. If we are working toward scheduling programming for the year, and people won’t discuss issues openly, whether one on one, or as a group, then the issues have the tendency to become “the elephant in the room.” Once it’s there, there is no taking it out. I personally struggle with those types of conversations, because I don’t want to hurt anyone, but have learned recently that most people actually want the honesty. We cannot grow in our faith, or otherwise, if we aren’t forced to look at the truth.

  5. added on 21 Oct, 2011

    I get exhausted being one of the few calling out for accountability. I think the enemy of excellence is misunderstanding the use of gentle but firm accountability, and the WAY overuse of the term “Christian” as an adjective! “Well, that’s not very Christian,” we say – dudes, the thing is, Christian is a noun, as C.S. Lewis says – he makes the parallel of the word “Gentleman.” A gentleman is a man who owns land. That’s it. His behavior, says Lewis, is human behavior, and whether or not he owns land is really irrelevant! In many respects, this is true for Christian – I AM a Christian, but that isn’t a way to describe my behavior – if I read the bible stories carefully (e.g., Jesus and the Syrophoenician woman), I see a Jesus who was fully human, whose behavior sometimes was just bratty (see the burnt fig tree) – and how can I expect any less from myself?
    BUT. The important BUT. We have to follow through with how Jesus continued to act – to change his mind about the woman, to calm down his impatience, etc. – and to acknowledge that we do these things and to try to make repairs. Further, we have to use his model on how to deal with other Christians – Jesus never shied from calling for accountability from his followers or his disciples – he called his best friend Satan, for cryin out loud – and we can’t either!! If the leadership can’t hold itself accountable, how can the congregation trust us to lead?

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