Even teams made up of great players fail and fall because of bad cultures, or worse, toxic cultures. This goes for any team: sports, corporate, church. Ensuring a successful culture means taking proactive steps, and it starts at the top. Here are just a few critical ones. Ask yourself these questions:
1: Would I do this task?
As leaders, we have to pass tasks down the ladder. It’s natural and absolutely necessary. We don’t have the time and, in many cases, we lack the skill set, which is why we have a team in the first place. However, sometimes it’s helpful to try doing it yourself. It sends a clear message to the staff that you aren’t above their work. Sometimes you’ll learn something too: maybe the task isn’t even really necessary or helpful and should be reevaluated.
2: Does my team interact outside of their work environment?
Silos are branches of your workplace that become so independent, so cloistered that they functionally do not exist to one another. The best way to avoid “silos” in your office is to invest time in nurturing personal relationships between staff. A great way to do this is to take teambuilding days, especially ones off-site if possible. A lot can come of these: rifts can be exposed and healed, friendships can be strengthened (or even begun), and morale is usually just generally improved. To that end, the trust building doesn’t have to be awkward or groan-worthy (think tug-o-war and trust falls). It can be as simple as everyone grabbing dinner together or going out to a movie or ballgame.
It’s also a great opportunity to reinforce that you as pastor or team leader are a friendly and approachable member of your own team.
3: Is my team comfortable speaking up?
This can be a particularly challenging to incorporate into the culture, in churchworld it’s particularly so. Few things discourage dissent more than the collar of a clergyman. Despite this obstacle, the ability for team members to offer input, even challenging input, remains absolutely essential. Obviously insubordination and disrespect cannot be tolerated. Allow these and you eventually become impotent. However, no leader should be above critique, and no leader is less effective than one whom people walk on eggshells around. Otherwise, it’s an autocracy. Solicit fresh opinions. Emphasize it as a part of your culture. And most importantly, sometimes someone will dissent, and their idea will fail. The temptation to reassert your idea as the better one exists, but there is no better way for you to prove this to be a tenet of your culture than for you to continue to encourage them during failures.