There are some things you would never say out loud; even though you know they are true. The reason you don’t say them out loud is (despite the fact they are true) they just don’t sound right. If you uttered these secrets people will probably misunderstand you. In addition to the risk of being misunderstood, you start to think that perhaps they aren’t right. So we keep our mouth shut and they remain secrets.
When Jon, my brother and three college friends set out on this adventure called Community Christian Church we were a team. We started as a team partly because of shared dream and partly because it sounded like a lot more fun doing it together than doing it on our own. And from the beginning when it was just the five of us until today where there are more than 4000 of us at seven locations (soon to be eight!), Community Christian Church has always been led by teams. The leadership team I’m a part of today is the finest team of which I’ve ever been a part. And over the years there have been some things about these teams that I knew were true (I have a hunch we all knew they were true), but we never said them out loud. We might be misunderstood. We might be wrong. So we kept these as secrets.
However, now I’ve either gained enough confidence that they are true or I’m willing to risk being misunderstood so I’ve decided to tell all! Here are four secrets of great team based leadership:
THE SECRET ABOUT THE CAUSE – “We are committed to the cause first and each other second.”
Great leadership teams are always clear about the cause. There is no great team that is not clear about the cause. There is no good team that is not clear about the cause. A lot of other stuff may get fuzzy, but the cause is always very clear. At Community Christian Church (CCC) you are hard pressed to find a job description for any staff position. Most people don’t really know how much vacation time they are allotted. Most people don’t know how many hours their job requires. No one is told how they should dress. (This one is kind of embarrassing) I don’t even know the dollar amount on my twice-a-month paycheck.
At CCC there may be a lack of structure and policy, but the one thing that is clear is the cause. We are clear that our cause is to “help people find their way back to God”. Last week my assistant, Pat got an e-mail requesting a staff policy manual from another pastor. I love her answer: “our policy is not to make policy”. I love that! Why? Because policy is what happens when we can’t get people to do what we want them to do or when people are not championing a clear cause. Policy occurs when the ethos of a church culture is weak and the cause is not compelling.
Why all this talk about cause? Because I believe our leadership team is committed to die for the cause of “helping people find their way back to God”. And when I say “die” I’m not using hyperbole. I mean willing to let our hearts stop beating before we let them stop beating for the cause. The five of us who lead Community Christian Church are willing to die for the cause of “helping people find their way back to God” whether it is one day at a time or all at once.
This is one of the secrets of great lead teams – we are committed to the cause first and each other second. Doesn’t it sound disloyal to put the cause first? That’s why it’s scary to say out loud. That’s why it is a secret. But, the truth is that it’s the cause that brings us together and keeps us together. It is when we put other things or other people before the cause that we compromise what God dreamed of in the church and in the great commission. I believe that this is at least 50% of what it takes to create great team based leadership – an uncompromising loyalty to a clear cause. There is never a great lead team when the cause is not clear!
In Jon R. Katzenbach and Douglas K. Smith’s great book, Wisdom of Teams, they make it very clear, “the primary objective of the team must be performance results (cause), not becoming a team”. One of the great mistakes is forgetting that the cause is what creates community or team. Ask yourself this, “Why do men always remember athletic teams or army platoons as the place where they experienced the most genuine community? Answer, because there was a clear cause that created community. The cause of winning a game or a tournament created a team. The cause of defeating a common enemy created a team. Why it is so hard for athletes to retire? Listen to their stories and it’s not the money they miss as much as the team.
The Acts 2 church was also brought together by a clear cause. It was the cause called the Great Commission that brought about koinonia or community. That first great leadership team of apostles had a clear cause and a clear cause for which they were willing to die.
I’ll post the other three secrets in the upcoming days…