This week I tweeted the following: “If you’ve never had a good fight in a staff meeting, you may have a staff but you don’t have a team.” The response it received took me by surprise. Apparently the idea of a “good fight” being implicit with team dynamics hit home for many church leaders.
The problem for some senior leaders is thinking they have a team when they only have a staff. So, let me add to my Twitter-thought.
You might not have a team…
- If your staff won’t tell you the last 10% of what they’re thinking.
- If you have high turnover. You can’t keep staff on staff.
- If you constantly hear from them, ‘How do you want us to do _____________?”
- If you can’t leave for extended periods of time without some mess happening that only you can clean up upon returning.
- If you won’t resolve to losing some battles to others you work with.
- If your ideas are the only ones that win out in discussion.
- If you struggle to think the best of your staff’s intentions.
- If your fear of seeing others fail is greater than your fear of never giving them the chance in the first place.
If some of these find unfortunate resonance with you, consider whether you have a team or just a staff.
Make no mistake, it is much easier to oversee a staff than a team. With staffs you can be autocratic. You operate under a theocracy, and your name is Theo. You order, they do. They don’t have to love, admire or even like you. They don’t even have to like what they do. They’re employees, not owners. You also don’t have to spend time to get to know them as individuals – their strengths, their passions, their walk with Christ! Heck, you don’t even have to get to know them at all! All you have to do is run the staff.
But teams are harder. They take time. Teams are forged not assembled. They are built over time, over hardships, over tension, over wins AND losses. Their currency is trust, respect and the freedom to fail. Teams are messy. Good leaders know that. Teams disagree with you (because they feel secure in your leadership), they may outvote you (because they know you trust their leadership skills as well), and might even get into a big fight with you (because you both love each other and the mission God has given you). Teams are harder but are infinitely better to oversee. In the end there is no real comparison.
You run a staff. You lead a team.
So what do you have?