The Best Way to Utilize Team Leaders

Being in charge isn’t about being in charge.  It’s about speed and effectiveness.

There is no doubt that you have goals, and that when you meet people there is some part of your brain that begins to think about how you can “use” them. It’s not a malicious or a controlling thought, it’s well intentioned. You have goals you are trying to accomplish, an organization you are trying to run and every contribution counts. So what is the best way to utilize team leaders?

When I first entered ministry I would visit churches around the US and Canada and dream. I’d come back home and build elaborate organizational structures, encompassing everything I could think of. Then I’d set out to fill these roles one by one. This seemed like a great idea, but one that never seemed to materialize. Just having an idea of the “positions needed” on my teams didn’t help me make leaps forward. In fact, it was wasted effort. 

What I’ve learned is that for the most speed and effectiveness, when it comes to building a team, all that’s necessary is a basic simple structure. Define some key leadership positions and develop individuals to take on those roles. Let the rest fill itself in as you grow. But in order for this to work, one very specific task must be clear to every team leader you recruit and that is this:

Their primary job is to give as many people as possible the opportunity to make their strongest contribution to the church community.

What do I mean by that? Leading teams in the church is about helping people find a place to contribute. It’s our responsibility to constantly be watching and moving people into roles where they can grow and increase their impact. Every leader has a responsibility to “equip the church to be the the church,” to help the people make a difference. To fulfill a role that lets them use their unique wiring, strengths and skills. 

In fact, consider who you have in leadership and paid positions. Are they players or coaches? I don’t want players in leadership positions, I want coaches in leadership positions. I want coaches INVESTING in players. I want coaches providing a fantastic volunteer experience for players. I want coaches making sure everything is ready for players to hit the ground running. I want coaches pushing decisions down to the lowest appropriate level. I want the entire team, no matter whether they are paid or volunteer, to feel ownership in our success and failures. I want everyone to have some skin in the game. 

Examine your direct reports. Which one of them are players and which ones are coaches? The best way to utilize team leaders is unleash them as coaches. So how can you help them understand the difference?