Leading Effective Teams: Avoiding Problems

Teams are made up of humans. Humans are prone to have problems. Therefore, teams are prone to have problems. There is no magic bullet that solves any and every problem that can arise among team members. However, there are some principles that, when applied, can reduce the occurrence and impact of problems.

The primary principle for avoiding problems is clarity. Simply put, team rules, expectations, and purpose should be as clear and explicit as one can possibly make them. Ambiguity is the breeding ground for misunderstandings which can then grow into problems that threaten to implode, or at least derail, the team’s efforts. Consistency is also another important principle in avoiding problems within teams. This principle of consistency is applicable in our lives as believers (James 2:1, ESV) and certainly carries over into our roles as leaders of churches, schools, and other organizations. Consistency relates to enforcing team rules and expectations among team members. When favoritism or preference begins to rear its head within a group or team, problems can quickly arise and trust begins to deteriorate. When that trust deteriorates, the foundational component of an effective team is removed and overall effectiveness suffers.

A final principle that is essential to avoiding team problems is humility. Just as prayer is an essential ingredient in so many areas of team leadership, the same can be said for humility. Each member of the team should understand that teams are made up of human beings. Human beings, since Genesis 3, have not been perfect. We are prone to failure, shortcomings, flaws, and misunderstandings. Humility certainly will not prevent any and all problems among team members but when members of the team understand that the team is made up of other, fallible human beings, an attitude of humility assists the group in showing grace to one another and fostering trust, which in turn helps to undercut the development of team problems.