We all want to be part of a successful team. But I have found that more often than not, creating a successful team takes a lot of work, and with that work comes a lot of teachable moments. Here are some of the lessons I have learned over the last few years.
Projects Over People
I really enjoy getting things done and I find immense satisfaction in accomplishing goals, checking off items on a to-do list, and seeing vision become reality. But my intense desire for accomplishment can tend to blur out everything around me, including the people who help accomplish the goals I have set out for the ministry. Unfortunately, I have seen staff and volunteers hurt by their perception that I cared more about what they did than who they were. People are always more important than projects.
Asking Doesn’t Equal Caring
Do you ever walk down the hallway or aisle of some store and see a familiar face walk by? As you pass each other you say, “How are you?”, but then you don’t stop to really hear the answer, if there even is an answer beyond the standard, “I’m fine.” I do it, you may do it, and we all have had it done to us. Many times I thought that by simply asking the question, I was demonstrating a level of care or concern. Not really. I think it would be more caring if I asked the question, stopped for the answer, and gave my undivided attention to the person to whom I’m addressing the question. I have learned that words from my lips don’t always equal care from my heart.
Leaders Don’t Always Know Best
Although leadership is an area I have grown a lot in, I still have a lot more growing to do. Why? Because when I was young, I remember people that I admired and respected always saying that leaders know best. Those words stuck with me and became a part of my mindset while I was growing up. When I began to take on leadership roles later on in life, I quickly learned that I actually knew very little. As I matured in my leadership and gained valuable experience, I began to surround myself with people who could complement the team I was a part of or leading. It was important for me personally to remain teachable. You will never know everything but you can always remain willing to learn anything.
So how do these lessons I have learned help create a team for success? I believe that if I had asked better questions of myself, and of my staff, some of the pitfalls I encountered over the years could have been avoided. If I had asked better questions, maybe people would have felt that I valued them as coworkers. If I had asked a question with care and compassion, perhaps people would have known that I wasn’t just being polite and that I was actually being genuine. If I had learned to ask better questions of people and invited their input more, maybe those people would have felt that they were part of a team and not just a cog in a wheel.
While I can’t go back and change what has been done, I can apply the lessons I have learned so far so that they don’t become lessons wasted. May we all learn to ask better questions and show those with whom we work that we value them, thereby creating a team for long-term success.
End of article.