Aug. 27, 2017 | by Mike Bonem

In my conversations with senior pastors, executive pastors, and ministry leaders, I’m often told, “We have a great team, but…” The words after “but” are revealing. They often indicate that the team is not-so-great.

So what are the qualifiers that I hear most often? The three most common phrases after “but…” are:

1. We’re not pulling in the same direction

This response indicates either lack of clarity about the vision or lack of alignment. They may be great individual contributors, but they’re working in silos. “Great” may be a good description, but they’re not a team.

2. Chemistry is lacking

I wish everyone got along better. Silos may contribute to this problem, but it’s likely that a deeper issue is undesirable behavior by one or two individuals. They may have bad attitudes. Perhaps they’re combative or even undermining with peers. These individuals are left on the team because they “produce” great results, but their presence makes it impossible to have a great team.

3. As much as I like each of them, we’re not meeting expectations

In this case, the relational chemistry is often quite strong. But a lack of group accountability and/or weak individual contributors keep the team from achieving its potential. The strong emphasis on “team” harmony prevents them from being “great.”

To have a great team, you need to address whatever follows the “but.” In the first case, it’s essential to clarify vision and create common goals that transcend individual silos. In the second, unacceptable behavior needs to be addressed. Hopefully, the individual will change, but if not they should be removed from the team. In the last case, a shift toward greater accountability can help the team rise to a higher standard.

How would you assess your team? If it is “great, but …,” what should you do to answer without qualifications? 

Photo source: unsplash 


Topics: Administration, Leadership, Personnel & HR



Mike Bonem

Mike Bonem is an author, consultant, speaker, church leader, businessperson, husband and father. He loves to help ministries and their leaders reach their God-given potential through strategic planning, organizational design, and coaching. Mike’s books include Thriving in the Second Chair, In Pursuit of Great and Godly Leadership and Leading from the Second Chair. He has spoken across the country and internationally on topics related to ministry leadership and congregational effectiveness. Mike has an MBA from Harvard Business School and a breadth of experience in ministry and business, including 11 years as an executive pastor, consulting with Fortune 100 companies, and leading a start-up business. 

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