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I’ve seen many leaders make a common mistake. They believe in teams, so they create a bunch of them. They charge the teams with carrying out a specific mission or an assigned task. The team is part of a accomplishing the greater vision.

And, it’s a great concept. I believe in teams.

I even love the word – TEAM! It sounds cooperative. Energy-building. Inclusive.

I think we should always strive to create great teams.

But, here’s what often happens. The team doesn’t work. Nothing gets accomplished. There may be a lot of meetings, but there is no real forward movement.

The team flounders.

Why? They had a great team. The team was full of great people. They were part of a great vision and everyone may have known exactly what they hoped to accomplish.

But, this is where the common mistake exists among many teams.

They never had a leader.

When I arrived at our current church we had a committee structure in place. Committees were well-defined in their tasks. They had rotating terms and an appointed chairman. The problem was they were too structured for effectiveness. Plus, you had to be in the church at least a year before you could serve on them – which, in practice often means you have to be there for many years before you were ever “known” enough to be placed on a committee.

This process worked well for certain committees – such as finance committee, which we still have, but it didn’t seem to work at well for others, such as the garden committee or the usher committee. We needed lots of people in those areas and needed to be able to plug new people in quickly and let them get to work. We needed more of a team concept than a committee structure.

But, even with teams – the mistake comes when no one is ever appointed a leader.

Teams are great, but at some point in time, a leader will need to stand up – and lead.

An organizational team without a leader is like an athletic team without a coach. Would you recommend that for your favorite sports team?

I love leading through teams, but in addition to making sure people know what’s expected of them, we have to make sure every team has a leader.

I try to never appoint or release a team to do work until we make sure a leader is chosen. They can choose their own leader, we can appoint one for them, or they may even have co-leadership, but there needs to be someone who has the assigned task of steering, motivating and leading the team to accomplish it’s mission.

Love teams – but, make sure every team has a leader.

Have you seen a leaderless team flounder?

Ron Edmondson is a pastor and church leader passionate about planting churches, helping established churches thrive, and assisting pastors and those in ministry think through leadership, strategy and life. Ron has over 20 years of business experience, mostly as a self-employed business owner, and he's been in full-time ministry for over eight years.  

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