Leading Teams, Not Individuals (why the Borg is better)

2009-10-17 the borg header

I once heard Dave Ramsey say, “It is easier and more fun to oversee teams than it is to oversee individuals.” I incorporated that statement into a personal missions statement I made while on a personal advance in Washington State last summer. In it, I said that I wanted to be leading leaders, and overseeing teams, not just “maintaining systems” by myself.

Transitioning from an “I do everything model” in church life specifically, which works fine when you’re talented and swim in a small fish bowl, to a team model, requires a great deal of delegation. And the nature of the tasks, which stem from a core belief that everything needs to be done with excellence, requires that those you are delegating work to be trained sufficiently. As a result, I find myself in the midst of a tremendous personal shift. Here are two major revelations I’ve had along the way (with more to follow in the coming months, I’m quite sure):

1.) The Collective Has Better Ideas Than The Individual: I am a very creative guy. And I’m comfortable saying that. It’s not a point of pride, but of consistency over time. But when placed in a group of creative people, my ideas are mere starting points for others to launch from, thus producing end results that I never could have come up with on my own. There is a certain amount of “loss of ownership” that I had to deal with; but when put in the perspective that no idea is more original than God’s, and that we are to adopt a Kingdom mindset, releasing ownership gives birth to unlimited possibilities. It’s interesting that they very same emotion a creative person feels when they are “in control” of their projects–freedom–actually increase exponentially when they release them into the hands of others.

2.) Train As You Go: As my wife pointed out recently, when I’m confronted with the option of giving a task to a team member under me, I very often don’t. I reason, A.) in the time it will take me to teach them how to do it, I can do it five times over, and B.) my years of experience tell me I can do it better. But both arguments, while predominantly true, reduce the potential for growth in ministry exponentially. The easiest answer, of course, would be to hire qualified people. But in church life, that is most often not an option, because limited budgets do not allow you to obtain the level of expertise you need. Imparting your skills and talent over time becomes the only solution if you are serious about growing. And this, of course, takes time, discipline, and patience. But in the end, the team becomes the key component to productivity, not you as the individual. I’m right smack dab in the middle of instituting this principle, and setting up the infrastructure to facilitate it. ch:

  • Jennifer hopper

    You are incredible.

  • Michael Hensley

    And I for one would love to work with someone as creative and talented as yourself. I too have the perfectionist mindset, and it has hindered my growth in some aspects. I have held to both tenants, 2A&B steadfastly. You know what? Not only is it not good for us…it also never allows anyone else to grow!! Which is diametrically opposed to the entire purpose.

    “Resistance is futile”.

    Love ya, Bro.

  • John Brennan

    check out this twitter visualizing program !

  • Christopher,

    I know all too well the point you have reached in your own growth as a leader and a mentor.

    Often times it is simply faster to do a given task yourself, as you possess the technical expertise to achieve the desired outcome in the desired time frame. However, as a leader it is our responsibility to develop and mentor those who have been entrusted to us.

    As a pastor you have been entrusted with a group of individuals on fire for Christ. A group of individuals God has entrusted you to mentor and develop. That you have chosen to reveal this about yourself speaks volume about your character.

    You are a godly man, and I know God has chosen the right man for the tasks that lay ahead.

  • jh: thanks babe. i adore you.
    mh: extremely good point. we are called to release others to grow, indeed. well said. (it’s kinda’ like how i released you to lead while painting at dibor; had i done all the perfectionist work, you would have never grown).
    jb: dude! so coolio!
    ch:

  • kz: thanks so much for your encouragement, brother. will miss you at nlcc this morning.
    ch:

  • Are you saying the bourgeoisie must give intellectual ownership to the proletariat? That through this infusion of property ownership to the proletariat, the collective can advance? The reason the ruling class runs everything is because they have the idea and KEEP them.

    %^&*#@ capitalist.

    – Marx

  • Michelle

    😀 Yup, delegation is difficult. So is letting someone else be the creative initiator and take a project in a direction you didn’t come up with yourself.

    However, I think when we delegate, when we teach someone how do to do something and then let them put their own spin on it or tweak it so that it is there own, we come very, very close to the heart of God.

    After all, He was the one that told Adam to subdue the earth. He also didn’t include a point-by-point how to do that either. He didn’t micro-manage Adam. He gave him tools, (intellect, strength, creativity) and then He let him work.

    He also didn’t leave Adam all on his own. They met together in the cool of the evening, and I don’t think it’s too much of a leap to say those might have been in part brainstorming and teaching sessions.

    So I think we really are very much like Him, when we teach others the basics and then stand back and cheer at their wobbly, creative masterpieces.

  • hehe. Sorry Christopher. I recently read Marx’s Communist Manifesto, and it was the first thing that popped in my mind. Great points! Husbands can use this in the home too, and not be too proud to hear our wife’s and children’s ideas with merit.

  • Millardthemk

    :Ch does this next part of the arg require me to buy a book?