Friday, 30 October 2009

Teams and Your Youth Development Policy

It’s not just wise football managers who invest in youth training. As a church leader spotting gifts and potential in young people and providing them with opportunities to grow in serving is a good investment. Give them input and on occasions give them their head! I have good reason to advocate this approach as I benefited from it myself.

The pastor of my home church began to invest in me when I was 20. By the age of 21 I was sitting in Elder’s meetings and was arrogant and opinionated. But all I learned then bore fruit in later situations as I had been exposed to the practice of leadership in previous years.

My plea is that leaders give responsibility at an early age. If you have young people that show potential then encourage them to aspire to the next level of leadership and provide learning and training opportunities that will stretch but not overwhelm them.

Book recommendations on leadership and team building

Developing the Leader Within You : John Maxwell

Developing the Leaders Around You : John Maxwell

Making a Team Work : Steve Chalke with Penny Relph

Effective Keys to Successful Leadership : Frank Damazio

Tuesday, 27 October 2009

Winning teams!

I have already recommended the Belbin test for you and your teams – it is a well-researched secular team test which shows the contribution each type of individual makes to a team. Belbin enables you to identify the strengths and weaknesses in your team. On any team there needs to be:

- A trusted chairperson who uses people’s abilities. Trust is key – the team won’t function without it.
- A creative person, preferably clever as well. What Belbin calls a ‘plant’. This person will often bring a new angle on an issue. I have come to value contributions from our creative people at critical times in decision making.
- A fair spread of mental abilities.
- A good spread of team roles
- A matching of team roles and responsibilities
- A shared consciousness of the weaknesses of the team. At an early stage I realised that we were missing an implementer on our team. I’m a shaper, with implementer as my secondary role. As a result everything was bouncing back to me – not ideal. So, we staffed an implementer! (All senior staff appointments at King’s will undertake Belbin testing – that way we know where we are!)

The ability to recognise gifts – is a gift! We are learning about this all the time – the important thing is that you need to understand yourself as you go to recruit. Bringing a new team member on board - especially a senior team member – could destabilise the team. The personality of the newcomer is vital, so it’s not just about gifting. They have to ‘fit’.

Appreciating those on the team who are different from me means that I recognise that we need ALL their gifts and abilities, otherwise you will end up recruiting only people like yourself which will weaken the team.

It’s important to play to your strengths as a leader – and discover and then cover your weaknesses.

Friday, 23 October 2009

Defining your unique role in the team

1. Define the role of the leader!
Doing this will prevent responsibilities falling into that area where everyone presumes that someone else is taking care of it! And because you are a self-aware, self-reflecting leader you will be aware of your own areas of limitation and will staff your weaknesses!

2. Have clear job descriptions for team members.
Let others with expertise in this area sort the details of these documents as well as staff contracts. Though it seems tedious at the time, good documentation in this area can save a great deal of trouble in the future.

3. Areas to be aware of when building a team.
- Age distribution. If all your elders are the same age, they will continue to age together and you will need to introduce a rank of younger elders to add youth and vigour to wisdom and stability!
- Individual training. Variety in skills and gifting. Different experience histories.
- Varied personalities
- Ethnic mix. Diversity is an increasingly important and visible issue in our churches.

Tuesday, 20 October 2009

And more on building your dream team...

- Team members know exactly where the team stands on any issue

Some years back we were going into a major building project and the small group system began to fall apart. I came under immense pressure to radically restructure this part of church life but I felt that it was not the time for a big policy change in this area. ‘Cell’ church was the big thing at the time but we decided to wait for 2 to 3 years. Our priority was the building – I felt we would only get one chance to design and erect a good building – once that was done we could recreate our small group system on an annual basis if we chose to! As it was, the delay gave us time to reflect on this important area of church life.

In more recent days we have moved to multiple Sunday meetings. We worked out that an attendance of 180 was ‘critical mass’ for a new meeting in our auditorium. At this point I spoke to all the ministry leaders and told them that I wanted them in that meeting! This was a change of philosophy.

- Team members are willing to pay the price

There has to be a personal counting the cost which may well have financial and career development consequences with implications for wider family members.

Friday, 16 October 2009

More on building your dream team

- Team members place individual rights beneath the best interests of the team

This requires a level of maturity from the team members who will be able and gifted in their sphere of work and who could, in some cases, go and lead their own team. Preaching is a case in point here. One of our elders was an able teacher and was at once stage the second preacher on the team after me. As the church has grown we wanted to promote and give opportunities to younger guys – the outcome of this (and other strategic staff appointments) is that he now preaches only once or twice a year – a real sacrifice.

- Each team member plays a special role – ideally to the person’s strengths

Working within your own gift means that you can run further and do more. Also knowing how you function physically helps – I know that I generally do better with 6 one hour sessions rather than 1 six hour session. You should be aware of what drains you in church life. I know that I’m a ‘solution’ person so that pastoral care and I have a limited shelf life together! Our personalities contribute to this.

- An effective team has strength in depth

Having worked at this, I really believe that my team at King’s is one of the strongest in depth within Newfrontiers!

Tuesday, 13 October 2009

Building your dream team - cont'd.

- Team members communicate with each other.

Trust and openness should be the norm. Give permission! Any idea is acceptable for discussion! (And implementers will struggle with this!)

- Team members grow together.

Training should be a continuous process. Developing skills is a high priority. In recent years we have had input into the team in the following areas:

Diversity : David Anderson
Counselling : Jeanie Kendall
Management : Brian Watts
Personality profiling : Peter Brierley
Multiple meetings : Steve Nicholson – US Vineyard Movement
Various : Willow Creek Association; Holy Trinity, Brompton
and from various apostolic figures within Newfrontiers. These bring huge gifts and other skills.

Our Newfrontiers foundations are strong and we are happy to receive from other streams of church life where appropriate and to grow in awareness and ‘roundedness’!

- There is a good ‘team fit’.

A useful tool in this area is the Belbin personality test. I would recommend that you and your team do this together. It will help you know more about the individuals in your team and to value difference in the team rather than being annoyed by it! It is important that your team has the full range of gifting and personalities in the room.

Friday, 9 October 2009

Building your dream team!

In my experience I have found that the following principles are important – if not vital – for building a great team!

- Team members genuinely care for each other.

What is the team temperature? A leader will monitor this and ensure good relational ‘gel’ in the team. Each year I take the King’s elders away for 4 days. We go to France where a former elder and his wife have a large house with a pool. In the mornings we pray and discuss and in the afternoons we rest and ‘play’. This is invaluable time together and I see it as real investment in the team. I think every such team needs an equivalent.

- Team members know what’s important.

Priorities need to be recognised and stated. Challenges need to be identified. These are the tasks of a leader and there will come times when as a result of these activities that you recognise that you need to up your game. One year I returned from my summer break to be informed that our Church Administrator was moving on, one of the elders was ill and had to take long-term sick leave and we were £90K down on our budget! We had a Family Meeting to tell the church what was happening and one of the outcomes was that I had to re-involve myself in areas such as taking funerals and pastoral care. By Christmas of that year I was losing the plot! I was glad to take time over the break to analyse the critical elements in our situation which I identified as – diversity, finances, apostolic reach, growth and impact on the team. On the first Sunday in January I presented these challenge points to the church and addressed them.

What are the key challenges you and your team are facing? If there is corporate ownership of these, that will help you as you assess your resources and move forward.

Tuesday, 6 October 2009

A leader's capacity

As leaders we have to ask ourselves – What is my capacity? What can I achieve? It’s good to know this because members of your team (other leaders in effect) who have a greater leadership gift than you and more capacity will not play on your team for long. There is a direct relationship between the leader’s capacity and the capacity of the team member. If this relationship is out of kilter the result will be frustration on both sides.

Leaders generally work hard. However, the issue is not just one of hours spent but of levels of responsibility and emotional capacity - a leader carries the team. For me, increasing responsibilities outside King’s mean that there are no venues in my life where I don’t lead. This can be demanding. The advantage of this is that I have the chance to shape the culture of each ministry/event where I have input. Inevitably too my diary shapes the church agenda.

For every successful leader there are always more people who know that they are going to be second in rank. Some are happy to be part of a specialist team within the church and I would reckon that they feel good about that for around 80% of the time – with the occasional frustration! Inevitably a team member may come to the point where they want and need to lead their own team. Some will stay but some will go to grow elsewhere.

John Maxwell has been a favourite writer and speaker of mine for some years and I especially agree with him when he says,

‘…those closest to the leader will determine the level of success for that leader.’

This means that you should choose your team members carefully!

Friday, 2 October 2009

High Sundays 4

Like to know more about future trends in your church?

One of the greatest leadership challenges is to predict the future, and the best way to do that is to look at past trends. If your church hasn’t grown in the last 5 years, it is unlikely to double in the next five. At King’s we have always planned for and prayed for an annual increase of 10% - net! Your church will double in 7 years if you achieve this goal. On the basis of this principle King’s will have 2000 attending in 7 years time.

Over the years we have worked out that the leading indicator of growth is the number of ‘Like to Know More’ forms which are handed in at our Welcome Desk on a Sunday. I pray for 5 a week - we have 3 meetings. If we get 5 a week I now know we are going to have 100 more people in a year’s time. This is incredibly helpful information. From this we can then forward project numerical growth which shapes all our forward financial planning. We have a 5 year budget forward projection which helps to shape our staffing needs and our building requirements. All from new connection forms.

In this last year we have had 321 forms, at a retention of 50% - that represents 160 people. Of course some people leave, sometimes that’s a weekly event as well, mostly for good reasons - but from this analysis I am confident that we are continuing to grow and that we will have over 100 more people attending in a year’s time.

When I leave King’s at the end of each Sunday, I am given a report containing the numbers in attendance as compared to last year, and the number of ’Like To Know More’ forms handed in. From this information I can continue to tell King’s is growing – and how fast.