Team work is essential in most every area of life. In fact, from the very beginning of creation God intended for us to work in teams (Gen. 2:18, ESV). In other words, human beings were designed and wired for teamwork. One is able to identify very few areas of life, public or private, in which teamwork is not important or even essential. Even within the family, the foundational building block of societies, teamwork is paramount to overall success and effectiveness. The purpose of this short series is to explore and discuss various theoretical and biblical principles to help leaders build and lead effective, winning teams.
Building The Team
Effective teams do not build themselves. Due to the fallen, sinful nature of humanity, our best efforts are insufficient when it comes to building and maintaining personal relationships, let alone organized teams (Isa. 64:6, ESV). Therefore, the primary and most fundamental starting point for any endeavor involving teams is prayer. Without God’s blessing, leading, and direction our best efforts will be in vain (Psalm 127:1, James 4:15, ESV). We must lay the entire endeavor before the Lord and seek His guidance in determining the size of the team, the members of the team, and the goals of the team. Only then can we even hope to begin an effort that will be pleasing to Him.
Outside of the scriptural imperatives behind building a team there are also best practices that can assist in team building and development. First of all, we must enter into the team building effort deliberately. In other words, we need to ensure that we understand the reason behind forming a team in the first place. If there is not a clear reason for the team to exist, then it should not exist.
Secondly, we should seek as diverse a team make-up as possible. As the Harvard Business School suggests, “when two people on a team think alike, one of them is redundant”. Not only is diversity a best practice but it also immediately increases the number of alternative solutions to a problem and the likelihood that an effective and efficient solution will be put forward. The team should not consist of a group of yes-men who are simply there to serve as a rubber stamp on pre-determined decisions.
A third principle of team building argues that smaller is better in terms of team size. As more voices are added to the team then the difficulty of achieving necessary agreement on decisions and solutions increases. The literature suggests that there is a “sweet spot” of both diversity and team size in which there are sufficient differences of opinions and outlooks along with an adequate number of individuals leading to what can be called a “winning team”.