Every believer is called to be part of a team. Some are called to marriage. Some are called to the mission field being sent out two-by-two. Yet, teams that are actually transformational are rare and hard to come by. Why is this? Could it be we are using the wrong metrics to measure the inner-workings of a team? For example, does monetary value tell us that a team is transformational? Does the testimonial page on their website communicate it? Does the geographic range they are active in make a difference?
It is important to consider financial viability, customer feedback, and territory when evaluating teams. However, looking at external indicators first is a mistake when it comes to evaluating the transformational aspects of a team. Transformational Leadership (TL) teaches that there are ten distinct internal aspects of a team that is continuously improving. For now, let’s look at just five characteristics of a transformational, high-performing, stage-five team:
1. Ability to work, plan, train, and play at the same time.
2. Everyone’s opinion matters (all feedback is relevant).
3. Work is evenly distributed.
4. Ability to lovingly disagree and still move forward with actions and plans agreed upon.
5. New behaviors become the norm.
Sharing is Caring
Let’s take a moment to dig deeper into characteristics #1-4. At this point, everyone should be well on their way to being a Relactional leader, the kind of leader who is able to balance their own tasks and relationships while appreciating and respecting how other team members are wired similarly and differently. To continuously improve, responsibility must be shared to allow all teammates to work, learn, and rest in a healthy way. Beyond that, it is critical to recognize that in the midst of simultaneously working, learning, planning, and playing, sharing feedback and opinions is just as critical. To continuously improve, the channels of communication must be open and active. The phrase sharing is caring comes to mind when we think about characteristics #1-3. In short, sharing creates balance and freedom while caring creates respect and accountability. To be a continuously improving team, each of these ingredients must be part of the recipe.
Depending on You
It’s a wonderful notion to believe that team dynamics can be as seamless as I’ve just described. Yet, most often, that is not the case…and, the reason is pride. Every single human being faces pride which makes continuously improving transformational teams rare. When they do exist, it is because they are made up of individuals who are God-fearing and function interdependently with others. Characteristic #4 speaks to conflict (which is almost exclusively caused by pride in one form or another). When (not if) a disagreement surfaces in a stage-five, to continually improve, teammates must be secure enough in their own identity (role) to submit to others, intimate enough with God to walk in true forgiveness, and compassionate enough to move forward even if they’ve experienced insult or injury along the way. In other words, relational longevity and health is dependent on identity (who you are, who God is to you, and who others are to you). In essence, to exemplify characteristic #4, we must go back to basics and keep personal responsibility ever in view.
As if characteristic #4 wasn’t tough enough, #5 brings us to a whole new level! There are plenty of biblical instances that testify to why constant flow and renewal are indicative of God’s character. For example, the train of the Lord’s robe is continually filling the temple (Isaiah 6:1). God’s tender mercies are new every morning (Lamentations 3:22/23). Believers are called to be transformed through consistent renewal (Romans 12:2).
Now, in our very materialistic world, new for the sake of new has become a perversion of the Kingdom dynamic wherein new = transformation (health, revitalization, refreshment, holy increase, and the like). The principle of “new” and “constant” may seem contradictory in our natural mind; but in the Lord, they are one and the same. As individuals and teams, we can emulate the character of the Lord and the ways of heaven by walking out characteristic #5. In the process, rely on characteristics #1-4, as they’re necessary for “new” to be the “norm.”
As you consider your own relationships and teams, remember that we were made by God for continuous improvement. To believe that we can “get there” or “arrive” is simply low-level thinking. We were created by an infinite God who made us in His image. Today, I challenge you to dream with your team/s and ask yourself, “What would it look like if new were the norm?”
Matthew Fleming is the State Director for the North Carolina Christian Chamber of Commerce (NC-C3). Matthew has a strong vision for the functionality of the Christian community as believers endeavor to operate in unison. He believes alignment and co-laboring from a united reality will be the catalyst for sustained Restoration in our world. Matthew can be reached at Matthew@nc-c3.org.
Transformational Leadership helps you identify, address and remove personal, team and process constraints. Removing these constraints allows transformation to occur and encourages healthy, trusting relationships to grow.
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