8 Principles for Leading a Team


I read this post today from Perry Noble and thought it was worth repeating-some good thoughts on team leading. Pay attention!

I recently sat down with all of our worship leaders here at NewSpring Church for two hours…it was seriously an amazing series of conversations.

At one point, Lee McDerment, our worship leader at the Anderson campus asked me, “What are some things all of us need to keep in mind as we lead teams.” I gave a decent answer … but after I got back to my office I began to write my thoughts down … and here are eight things I believe that every leader needs to keep in mind when leading a team.

#1 – You will never effectively motivate someone with feelings of guilt
I’ve made that mistake as a leader before, thinking if I could just get someone to feel bad they would do a better job … WRONG! No one has ever brought about significant change in the world because guilt propelled them to do so. AND … if a leader finds himself always motivating by guilt … he will also soon find himself without anyone to lead. NO ONE likes going on a guilt trip.

#2 – People don’t respond to need – they respond to vision
When a leader talks about a need, some people will respond. BUT, when a leader can cast a compelling vision about what SHOULD BE and with God’s grace and our participation, WOULD BE CHANGE HAPPENS! Many times a team leader will drift off course NOT because they are lazy and/or pathetic, but because maybe they have forgotten why they do what they do and a shot of vision will cure that every time.

#3 – A person cannot be held accountable for unspoken expectations
Another mistake I’ve made in the past as a leader is assuming people could read my mind and so when they didn’t do what I thought should have been done I would get angry with them. After some very confusing looks and some really tough conversations I began to realize that I was expecting things out of people that I hadn’t clearly explained! Our job as leaders is to give clear, realistic expectations and then resource the people to make those things happen.

#4 – Keep short accounts
The Bible says in Ephesians 4:26-27 that we are to not let the sun go down on us while we are angry. In other words, we should act with URGENCY when it comes to conflict among the teams we lead. Unresolved conflict is like cancer that begins to eat away at the body. It must be dealt with OR its destruction will bring about death. Many leaders RUN FROM conflict because it is uncomfortable, but I’ve learned the hard way that we must embrace a little discomfort now or A LOT of it in the future!

#5 – Don’t be afraid to set high standards
One of the problems I’ve discovered when it comes to leadership in the Church is that some people are perfectly fine with setting the bar of excellence really low … and then allowing the people they lead to crawl under it. I know leaders who literally fear that if they set high standards that people will get offended. However, the thing I’ve learned around here at NewSpring is if we DON’T set high standards people do not feel challenged … which leads to boredom! (BTW … I said “high standards,” not “unrealistic ones!”)

#6 – Beware of the all-star
One of the things that cripples any team is when it has an all star who believes ministry simply cannot take place without them. And when a leader begins to believe that about an individual on the team then they will often fear what might happen if the all-star left rather than what would happen if the presence of God left!!! Every “star player” who truly has an intimate walk with God understands that it’s the TEAMWORK that makes the DREAMWORK – period.

#7 – Each team member is a human being
The leader who views the team he leads as people who are assembled to do what he wants them to do and that’s it sucks as a leader! A leader MUST care about the people he leads and NOT just the tasks they perform. If a team member sees themselves as merely a tool in the leaders hand rather than a valued team member … they will soon be looking to join another team.

#8 – Ask questions
One of the biggest mistakes a leader can make is assuming that they have to have the answer to every question that comes their way. (BTW … NO leader is that good!) One of the things I am realizing more and more is how incredibly gifted and talented the people around me are … and over the past several years I’ve asked this question in so many meetings when someone presents an issue to me, “So, what do you think we should do?” Often times the person already has the solution planned out … which saves me (and everyone else on the team) all kinds of time and energy! The reason God blesses a leader with a team is so that leader can harness the collective wisdom of everyone involved and make the best decision.

Besides … people ARE going to share their opinion somewhere … a leader might as well be the first to hear it … because it can save a lot of problems in the future.

One more thing … the only reasons a leader might not ask questions is because he is insecure (thinks doing so will show weakness), full of pride (thinks he is better than everyone else) or fear (because he knows the answer he is going to hear from the team is the right one – but not the one he prefers!)

Perry Noble is the Senior Pastor of NewSpring Church in Anderson, Greenville and Florence, South Carolina. At just nine years old the church averages over 10,000 people during weekend services and is launching another campus in Columbia, South Carolina this year to reach even more people.

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