Will You Just Answer the Question Already?

The same question, coming from 3 different conversations with 3 different pastors over the course of 3 different days prompted this series of posts.

Q: How do you put together a team of leaders to guide a church through a new ministry initiative or project?

My reply is that you don’t just want a team, you need a high-performing team. The foundational work that I have used for several years is based on what Pat MacMillan, author of The Performance Factor, has described as the six characteristics of a high-performing team. 

The first characteristic was a common purpose. The second was crystal clear roles.

Here are the remaining four characteristics:

  • High performance teams need – no, demand – accepted leadership capable of calling out the levels of initiative and creativity that motivate exceptional levels of both individual and collective performance.
  •  High performance teams have effective processes. They identify, map, and then master their key team processes. They constantly evaluate the effectiveness of key processes, asking: How are we doing? What are we learning? How can we do it better?
  • High performance teams must work out of a foundation of solid relationships. The relational qualities of trust, acceptance, respect, courtesy, and a liberal dose of understanding are needed for high levels of team effectiveness.
  • High performance teams have excellent communication. No team can move faster than it communicates; fast, clear, and accurate communication is the key to thinking and acting collectively.
courtesy triaxiapartners.com

courtesy triaxiapartners.com

It’s a short list – only six characteristics. But each characteristic plays a specific and vital role in making the team effective. Notice the arrangement of the characteristics – a wheel shape. In a sense, each one is equal and necessary. If one of these six characteristics is missing or inadequate, the team is limping at best. Think of the wheel on your car: if it is out of balance or alignment, the performance is affected. What starts out as a distraction can turn into a disaster.

By the way, if you click on the image above, the link will take you to the website of author Pat MacMillan’s company for detailed explanations of each of the 6 characteristics, along with a wealth of other resources.

Back to your car’s alignment – the same is true for your team: if two or three of these characteristics are missing, your group is probably not a team at all.

Here’s my quick answer for the question above.

A: You start by bringing together a group of people who effectively demonstrate the six characteristics of a high-performing team. Once the team is together, the work begins.


Now the fun begins…

inspired by and adapted from The Performance Factor by Pat MacMillan

The Performance Factor 

Still Answering the Question of the Week…

A continuing discussion coming from 3 different conversations with 3 different pastors over the course of 3 different days, but all having the same question:

Q: How do you put together a team of leaders to guide a church through a new ministry initiative or project? 

Pat MacMillan, author of The Performance Factor, and Seth Godin, author of Tribes, have been a great resource for me in working with church teams. Here is the second of several posts on the topic.

The first characteristic was a common purpose.

High performance teams are also characterized by crystal clear roles.

Every team member is clear about his or her particular role, as well as those of other team members. Roles are about how we design, divide, and deploy the work of the team. While the concept is compellingly logical, many teams find it very challenging to implement in practice. When they get it right, though, team members discover that making their combination more effective and leveraging their collective efforts is an important part to synergistic results.

Broadly speaking, there are three types of team roles:

  • Functional (technical) expertise team roles – qualities and knowledge each member brings to the team
  • Formal team roles – skills needed for a specific role like team leader or facilitator
  • General team roles – the expectations placed on any member of the team so that objectives are met

Role Design Criteria

  • Clear – everyone must have role clarity or you will have role confusion
  • Complete – cover the whole task – no gaps
  • Compatible – match tasks to individual strengths and skills
  • Complementary – configure roles so that one person’s accomplishment doesn’t hinder or block someone else from their task
  • Consensual – agree on who is to do what and how

This is my part of our job and no one is done until everyone is done

A: Defining the common purpose of the team is the first step of creating a team; that common purpose is the reason for cooperation. Following that, the church must develop an appropriate division of labor and create clear roles for team members. This is the strategy for cooperation.

inspired by and adapted from The Performance Factor by Pat MacMillan and Tribes by Seth Godin
The Performance FactorTribes

The Question of the Week is…

How do you put together a team of leaders to guide a church through a new ministry initiative or project?

3 different conversations with 3 different pastors over the course of 3 different days, but all having the same question!

As with all great questions, the answer begins with another question. One of the first I would ask is Why does this group exist? How that question is answered will determine, to a great measure, the success of the team. Pat MacMillan, author of The Performance Factor, and Seth Godin, author of Tribes, have been a great resource for me in working with church leadership teams.

The single most important ingredient in a team’s success is a clear, common, compelling task.

The power of a team flows out of each team member’s alignment to its purpose. The task of any team is to accomplish an objective and to do so at exceptional levels of performance. Teams are not ends in themselves, but rather a means to an end.

The power of teamwork flows out of alignment between the interests of individual team members and the mission of the team. MacMillan found that to achieve such alignment, team members must see the task as:

  • Clear – I see it.
  • Relevant – I want it.
  • Significant – It’s worth it.
  • Urgent – I want it…now!
  • Achievable – I believe it.

So you want to put together a leadership team for a specific project?

NEWS FLASH: There really is an “I” in team – if the individual members aren’t committed to a clear, common, and compelling task as individuals first, then you really won’t have much of a team.

So, the first answer to the question above?

A: First, the church needs to have a clear understanding of what the team is expected to accomplish. That clear purpose will serve as a guide to seeking individuals who will bring their collective wisdom together to form, over time, a team to accomplish the task.

inspired by and adapted from The Performance Factor by Pat MacMillan and Tribes by Seth Godin

The Performance FactorTribes

Moving from Chief Executive Officer to Chief EXECUTION Officer

What happens when the CEO gets involved in the details of strategy execution?

The E in CEO gets changed.

It’s all too easy for a leader to delegate the actions of strategy execution to levels of management below them.

And it’s a mistake.

By retaining the execution of strategy, the Chief Execution Officer can achieve consensus and commitment across the leadership team; establish and preserve the integrity of the strategy; and engage the team. If done correctly, this approach and these achievements can greatly improve any strategy’s performance.

Randall Russell, VP at Palladium Group and founding editor of Balanced Scorecard Report, has identified the following three practices that can lead to a successful management style of a Chief Execution Officer.

Lead the Leadership Team – creating a leadership team that is unified around the strategy is the most important prerequisite for successful strategy execution. Consensus on and commitment to the strategy provides a litmus test for determining who should stay on the team – and who should go.

Share the Story of the Strategy – too many strategies never get executed because they remain the closely guarded secrets of the leadership team. To be effective, strategy should be shared with all team members. Successful organizations believe that people who perform non-strategic but vital roles should know the general outline of the strategy so that they can become more engaged and find ways to contribute.

Leverage Strategic Performance Feedback – Once the strategy is se and the extended team is engaged, a system of strategic performance feedback must be established. Alignment of performance reward and recognition systems with strategy execution must be done early in the process. Team members who see how their individual roles make a difference will be powerfully motivated.

Application for ChurchWorld Leaders

  1. Establish cross-functional integration, high-level consensus, and commitment to the strategy across your leadership team.
  2. Translate the strategy into a set of measurable objectives that guide behavior across all your teams.
  3. Integrate organization-wide measurements that enable individuals to understand their contribution to the strategy
  4. Align reward and recognitions to the overall strategy while acknowledging unique individual contributions.

Smart leaders translate strategy into execution.

For more information, see the full story here.

Is It Time for an “Orange Revolution” in Your Organization?

If you asked who invented incandescent electric light, and you answered Thomas Edison, you’d be right – and you’d be wrong.Edison lightbulb

On October 22, 1879, the remarkable bulb dreamed up by Edison, drawn by lead experimenter Charles Batchelor, mathematically proved by Francs Upton, built by craftsmen John Kruesi and Ludwig Boehm, and tested by experimenters John Lawson, Martin Force, and Francis Jehl, burned for thirteen and a half hours.

Darkness had been illuminated forever.

The revolution that Thomas Edison wrought was the product of a team, in spite of how history books tell the story. We love the idea of a lone genius, the mastermind, the hero. We’re indoctrinated from an early age with the single-achiever ideal in school. For a fifth-grader, it’s easy to say Edison = light bulbs.

The reality is very different; geniuses build great teams.

Edison – one of the most brilliant minds in the world – accepted that he alone did not possess all the answers; but together, his team usually did.

What would you do to have a high-performing team that generates its own momentum – an engaged group of colleagues in the trenches, working passionately together to pursue a shared vision?

How about starting a revolution?

orange revolution 1For centuries the color Orange has been connected with revolutionary events. Most recent are the election events in the Ukraine, but there have also been Orange uprising in Ireland, China, England, and the Netherlands.

These revolutions signaled a transition – a spirited quest driven by people to improve the world around them.

Why shouldn’t your organization possess that same passion when it comes to creating, strengthening, and enlarging the teams that serve?

You can begin an Orange Revolution in the hearts of your team members and leaders focusing on conquering barriers, expectations, and stagnation.

Welcome to the revolution.

I will be leading The Orange Revolution at WFX in Dallas October 2-4. For an overview of WFX, go here. To learn more about the education and training available, go here.

Stay tuned for more on The Orange Revolution coming soon!

Thomas Edison Didn’t Invent the Light Bulb

If you asked who invented incandescent electric light, and you answered Thomas Edison, you’d be right – and you’d be wrong.

The revolution that Edison wrought was the product of a team.

When we call Thomas Edison to mind, our first thought is of a brilliant inventor and innovator whose creations transformed modern life. We often think of him toiling away in a laboratory all by himself, long into the wee hours of the morning.

Tempting as it is to sustain this image of Edison, it is inaccurate.

We love the idea of a lone genius, the mastermind, the hero. From an early age, we’re indoctrinated with the single-achiever idea in school. Our textbooks boil things down to their simplest form, and for a fifth-grader, it’s easy to say that Edison created the light bulb.

The reality is very different. Here’s what geniuses do:

They build great teams.

Thomas Edison, one of the most brilliant minds in the world, accepted that he alone did not possess all the answers, but together, his team usually did.

Never intimidated by other great minds, Edison actively sought out men with a broad base of knowledge, a passion for learning, impeccable character, and a commitment to excellence.

Thomas Edison viewed collaboration as the beating heart of his laboratories, a sustaining resource that fueled the knowledge assets of his sprawling innovation empire.

Maybe it’s time our organizations rediscovered the truths of teamwork and collaboration that Edison used so powerfully.

An ongoing series exploring the power of teamwork

Inspired by:

Midnight Lunch, written by Sarah Miller Caldicott

The Orange Revolution, written by Adrian Gostick & Chester Elton

Creating We, written by Judith Glaser

Edison’s Four Phases of Collaboration

As noted in yesterday’s post, I’m learning a whole new definition of “collaboration” in my role of Vision Room Curator at Auxano.

Webster’s defines collaboration as “the act or process of collaborating” – meh.

According to Sarah Miller Caldicott, great grandniece of Thomas Edison and author of the book Midnight Lunch, Edison viewed true collaboration as a value creation continuum. If one were to find a single notebook entry capturing Edison’s definition of true collaboration, Caldicott believes it would read something like this:

Applying discovery learning within a context of complexity, inspired by a common goal or a shared purpose.

True collaboration for Edison operated like an invisible glue that fused learning, insight, purpose, complexity and results together in one continuous effort.

Translating Edison’s decades of groundbreaking practices into language for the 21st Century leader, Caldicott has developed a four-phase model of the collaboration process.

 How do we create the foundation for true collaboration to flourish?

Phase 1 – Capacity: Select small, diverse teams of two to eight people who will thrive in an environment of discovery learning and collegiality.

 How can our collaboration team reframe the problem at hand, driving the greatest range of creativity and breakthrough solutions?

Phase 2 – Context: Focus the outlook of the team toward development of new context that broadly frames the problem or challenge under consideration. Use a combination of individual learning plus hands-on activities to drive perspectives for potential solutions.

 Can the collaboration team stay the course and continue forward despite disagreements?

Phase 3 – Coherence: Maintain collaboration momentum, creating frameworks for progress through inspiration, and inspirational leadership even though disagreements may exist. Newly discover, or re-emphasize, the shared purpose that binds the team together.

How can our collaboration team leverage internal and external networked resources nimbly and with speed?

Phase 4 – Complexity: Equip and reskill teams to implement new ideas or new solutions using internally and externally networked resources, rapidly accessing or managing complex data streams the team must navigate. Leave a footprint that contributes to a broader collective intelligence.

Edison leaves us a legacy we can return to over and over again as we newly shape a future that embraces the highest and best of our collaborative spirit.

If we did all the things we are capable of doing, we would literally astound ourselves.    –Thomas Edison

Go Aheadastound yourself…

A multi-part series being reposted in honor of Thomas Edison’s birth February 11, 1847