Great Traits of a Great Team - Part 5

Before sharing another trait of a great team, read Chuck Swindoll's teamwork illustration. Don't assume it's for the birds!

It's those stately geese I find especially impressive. Winging their way to a warmer climate, they often cover thousands of miles before reaching their destination. Have you ever studied why they fly as they do? It is fascinating to read what has been discovered about their flight pattern as well as their in-flight habits. Four come to mind.           

1. Those in front rotate their leadership. When one lead goose gets tired, it changes places with one in the wing of the V-formation and another flies the point.

2. By flying as they do, the members of the flock create an upward air current for one another. Each flap of the wings literally creates an uplift for the bird immediately following. One author states that by flying in a V-formation, the whole flock gets 71 percent greater flying range than if each goose flew on its own.

3. When one goose gets sick or wounded, two fall out of formation with it and follow it down to help and protect it. They stay with the struggler until it's able to fly again.

4. The geese in the rear of the formation are the ones who do the honking. I suppose it's their way of announcing that they're following and that all is well. For sure, the repeated honks encourage those in front to stay at it. As I think about all this, one lesson stands out above all others: it is the natural instinct of geese to work together. Whether it's rotating, flapping, helping, or simply honking, the flock is in it together...which enables them to accomplish what they set out to do.

I appreciate that last part. “. . . “it is the natural instinct of geese to work together. . . the flock is in it together. . . which enables them to accomplish what they set out to do.” That describes a healthy team, a great team following your leadership direction, working together, flying together, accomplishing what it set out to do.

Great Trait # 8: Great Teams Affirm the Strengths of Other Team Members and Protect their Weaknesses.

Unfortunately, many organizations adhere to the opposite of this principle—being jealous of each other's strengths and taking advantage of each other's weaknesses. In that environment, the leader uses his/her strengths to get their own way and exploit weaknesses to gain competitive advantage. Where there is good leadership, protection, not control, characterizes the team environment. Bill Thrall distinguishes between protection and control this way:

 Protection says, “I love you and accept you for who you are, and I will stand alongside you in your weaknesses to free your potential.” Control says, “Your distasteful behavior stands between us and you must change before I will love you or let you love me.” (Leading from Strengths: A Manual for Christian Leadership Teams)

Leadership guru Peter Drucker wrote, “The purpose of the team is to make strengths productive and weaknesses irrelevant.”

I’ll share a final trait next week. It brings together all the other traits

Great Traits of a Great Team - Part 1

Ever notice how some of the great philosophies of life are etched on T-shirts? You might say TRUTH ON A T. Here's one. A bunch of guys are clinging to a rope for dear life with the words, “TEAM: 24 Guys Hanging on the Same Rope.” That's it. That's team attitude. If you don't hang together, you'll hang separately.

So you're a leader, hopefully a servant leader relinquishing whatever it takes to serve. . . LIKE JESUS. How's your team? JESUS HAD ONE. Do you have one or are you still hung up on the idea that leadership is a one-man show?

We were designed to function in connected, interdependent relationships with other people. God started it years ago when He said in Genesis 2:18, “It is not good for the man to be alone”; so He created for Adam a helper, someone suitable to him, i.e. a team member. Human beings (male and female) were created with a need to intertwine their lives with others.

We were made to be team players. A marriage is a team. A family is a team. A ball club is a team. A business is a team. A government office is a team, and so is a church.

What makes a good team? Why do some teams click and others don't? What's the difference between effective and ineffective teams? Someone asked baseball philosopher Yogi Berra, “What makes a good manager?” He responded, “A great team.”


Great Trait #1: Unified around a Shared Vision.

Vision is a clear and compelling picture of the future, which produces passion in the leader. It's this passion people want to follow. VISION LEAKS OUT.

Everything starts with a vision God gives the leader, who in turn passes it on to the other leaders. Vision gives direction. If you don't know where you're going, you may wind up somewhere else. Vision keeps you on target.

Vision is the essence of leadership. Knowing where you want to go requires three things: Having a clear vision, articulating it well, and getting your team enthusiastic about sharing it. Above all, any leader must be consistent. As the Bible says, no one follows an uncertain trumpet.”

Father Theodore Hesburgh, former President of Notre Dame University

Nehemiah never blew an uncertain trumpet. He was one of the great ones in the Old Testament Hall of Fame of Servant Leaders. His leadership vision started with a gruesome report about his beloved Jerusalem. The city was under great distress---walls broken down, gates burned to ashes, temple smashed, few survivors, others deported to Babylon.

Nehemiah confesses the mess and the nation's sin to God, then schedules an Uber ride to Jerusalem. Once there he hangs out for three days touring the city at night, just walking around, perhaps praying out loud, wondering what God has in mind.

In 2:17 of his book, Nehemiah rallies the city leaders and people together and casts a powerful vision. “You see the bad situation WE are in. OUR city is wiped out. Come. Let US rebuild the wall of Jerusalem.” That's the vision---a clear and compelling picture of the future. The leaders and people bought it. “Let US arise and build!”

In Chapter 3, everyone worked together—city leaders, religious leaders, families, everyone working, no one working alone.

Catch this. In 6:15, “the wall was completed in 52 days;” in 6:16, “The enemies/nations surrounding us recognized THIS WAS THE WORK OF GOD.”

Anyone said of your work lately? “IT'S THE WORK OF GOD.”


More next time. . .