Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Nancy Ortberg on the Benefit of Collaborative Teams

We've been studying how to build effective ministry teams and the advantage of a strong team-based approach. I got some unexpected insights on this yesterday on "The Show" by Leadnet, from their guest Nancy Ortberg. She shared on the topic "Provocative Leaders for a Dangerous Church," and made a number of insightful comments on leadership and teams.

"Leadership is much more about managing tensions than solving problems."
"Innovation happens best in teams...  You are absolutely underestimating what God wants to do in your church and you're holding back your innovation if you are not predominatnly using teams not as a slogan, not as a buzzword, but as a leadership strategy."
"One of the signs something is a core value is that it causes pain"
"Risk and failure are kissing cousins, they go together."
"Insist on collaboration. That goes beyond just having a team. Insisting that everyone shows up to the table with their ideas and opinions instead of dividing people into silos."

At the Leadnet archives you can watch a video of Nancy's talk and listen to the audio of the follow-up call-in Q&A session. I was fortunate to be able to ask Nancy a question. (It's between 7:22-10:16 on the call-in mp3.)

"What's the advantage of a collaborative culture (a team-based approach) vs people doing their own things in silos?" 

Nancy Ortberg's answer:
"All of us have been through the education system, so let me give you an illustation out of that context that I think will make sense and you can extrapololate it to any kind of company or organization. It's the difference between one great third-grade teacher and a great school and a great district. If everybody is only caring about their own area, you might have pockets of greatness in your church, but if people are only working their silos they're going to start competing for resources. They're going to start getting competitive and comparative in ways that don't build team and pit each other against each other; that's going to create a lot of little fire areas in your church of pockets of places that are doing well but there's no forward momentum, you're not moving the tipping point where you then begin to change the tide and shift the whole culture and cause an exponential growth because everybody is faced in the same direction. We're not building our own little kingdoms which is a lot of ego - 'My junior high department is doing really well. I know the worship department is struggling, and I know that the pastoral department is struggling, and that's ok with me because my area is going well.' That's a lot of self-absorption, that's not ministry, that's not healthy. So I think to get everybody on the same page you have to have shared vision and shared goals that define your agenda for every time you meet together and we ask people to take off their silo hats and stop thinking of themselves as part of the worship department or part of the junior high department, and in this meeting we're looking at the church as a whole organization, and they're the leaders of that organization we're going to set goals together that supersede any one department. They're still running their own departments as best they can, but in addition to that it's seeing the whole big picture and how we're going to get our church to flourish."
Thanks so much, Nancy for sharing your insight with us, and Todd Rhodes of Leadnet for hosting The Show on Leadnet! (Check it out Tuesdays at 4:00 Eastern)

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