Identity & Personal Responsibility
You may have experienced the kind of leadership where you’re expected to hold others accountable but certain leaders expect to be exempt from accountability. In other words, hold those people accountable . . . . but don’t hold me accountable . . . .
“Can we install security cameras to find out who is vandalizing our pool area?”
“Whoever is letting their dog defecate in my yard needs to be reprimanded!”
“Someone needs to…”
Being on the board of my HOA, I am privileged to hear a litany of complaints like these on an ongoing basis. Some complaints are valid. In those cases, we take care of the neighbor’s need as quickly as possible. Most complaints, however, have very little substance and validity. They are based upon generalizations, lack of information and understanding, and a desire to be heard. I have such a fun time responding to neighbors’ complaints; they allow me to educate neighbors about the finances, laws, needs of others, etc. I also usually ask the complaining neighbor(s) to become part of the solution. 99% of the time, the neighbor determines their complaint isn’t that big of a deal.
Of course, this premise goes well beyond my neighborhood. It’s become a favorite Facebook pastime to opine that others need to be held accountable. “Someone needs to do something about [insert whatever here]”, yet the person hailing the complaint won’t step in themselves. Instead, they just want to be heard.
So what does this have to do with building high-performing teams that move together to accomplish a shared goal? Very much. People want to be heard. When people are heard, they feel significant. People experience significance when they know who they are . . . when they know their identity. (Eph 2:10, Rom 12:6, 1 Cor. 12:7, 1 Pet 4:10)
In Matthew 16:18, Jesus said to Peter, “And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it.” When Jesus tells us who we are, that’s final. That’s who we are. He made us and it’s His Word that matters. We need to encourage each team member to hear for themselves who Jesus says they are, just as He did for Peter.
Most people want to get some “playing time,” especially on a championship caliber team. Who wants to tell their grandchild they came off the bench as a “scrub” at the end of the blowout in the basketball championship? No way! We want to let our children and grandchildren know we played meaningful minutes on the way to winning the championship. (Col 3:23-24, Mt. 25:21, Jer 29:7-11)
This is true with all of our teams. We all want to play “meaningful minutes,” so to speak. So how do we get there?
Role Clarity, Listening, & Accountability
This is one of the hardest tasks that you will ever accomplish on a team but one of the most essential. If people don’t know where their role ends and someone else’s begin, you can expect conflict. Every time. Also, if they don’t know their role in general, they won’t get much done that moves the team towards the shared goal. (Ex 28:3, 1 Cor 14:26, Eph 4:7, Eph 4:12)
A second step to keep in view for high-performing teams is to simply listen to your team. Listen to their complaints. Attempt not to defend. Ask for input into what needs to be changed or made better. Invite constructive feedback on your leadership and the team. I personally ask people for their feedback all the time so that I can continue to grow as a leader. Did you know the average person has 3.4 blind spots? Since that is the case, we can all invite feedback about ourselves. (1 Pet 5:6, Js 1:19, Pr 19:20-27)
Third, accountability is necessary on a great team. I don’t know anyone who loves being “held accountable.” Is it necessary? It is only necessary if we want to achieve goals and minimize hurt. If we are okay with missing goals and excusing behavior that irritates and hurts others, then let’s not hold each other accountable. (Rom 14:12, 1 Cor 3:12-15, Mt. 12:36-37)
What does accountability in an organization look like? It means agreeing to a shared expectation of attitude, behavior, tasks, and outcomes which reward expectations that are met and which have a consequential process for unmet expectations. Who is responsible for accountability in an organization? It’s always the leader. They set the expectation with truth in love.
So, if we are going to build high-performing teams, some of the greatest work comes on the front end. We need to help each other know “who” we are in essence and giftings. A strong identity of self with great role clarity maximizes the potential of contributors as they offer their best gifts to achieve the shared goals of the team. We need to listen to our team, we need to ask for constructive feedback, and we need to set accountable goals.
There is so much more that goes into high-performing teams, but may this be a good starting place.
“Where brothers dwell in unity, there I will command my blessing.” Ps 133:1
Demarick Patton of Orlando, FL us a Certified Facilitator and City-Wide Coordinator with Transformational Leadership. In addition, he has been on staff with Cru for many years. He is passionate about advancing the Gospel on college campuses and in the marketplace. Demarick can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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