Updated: Mar 11, 2019
A few years back I had the opportunity to learn from Pastor Rick Warren and his team at Saddleback Church in Southern California. Rick Warren is the best selling author of the book, The Purpose Driven Life. I served as one of the executive leaders in launching Saddleback South Manila here in the Philippines.
In March 2014, Saddleback conducted the OC Business Summit, which gathered business people in the Orange County to listen and learn from various experts like Malcolm Gladwell. Pastor Rick himself talked about building effective teams. He may be a Baptist clergyman, but he knows more about management than most management executive I know. It helped to have been mentored by Peter Drucker himself. Besides, he has founded and sustained one of the largest Christian church and mission organization in the US that is currently making global impact. Sure, Rick Warren knows a thing or two in building a high performing team.
Based from what I have heard from him, two things: A common goal and communication.
Those are the two essentials for any high performing organization. People working on the same project, but not communicating with each other,cannot be considered as a strong team. They would be a team if they are on the same project and they are tightly communicating. You have to have both of these things -- a common goal and communication.
In one of his messages, Pastor Rick mentioned that, “teams accomplish more than individuals working separately.” That is a principle that is taught all through Scripture. One example is in Ecclesiastics 4:9-12 (TEV):“Two are better off than one, because together they can work more effectively. If one of them falls down, the other can help him up. But if someone is alone and falls, it’s just too bad, because there is no one to help him. If it’s cold, two can sleep together and stay warm but how can you keep warm by yourself. Two men can resist an attack that would defeat one man alone. A rope of three cords is hard to break.” This is the principle that teams accomplish more when they are together,rather than individuals doing things individually.
Another example would be when Nehemiah was rebuilding the Jerusalem wall. The work was so difficult that the people became discouraged. When they were half through rebuilding the wall, they became discouraged and gave up. Nehemiah said to them that they are all going to reorganize this thing. Instead of working by themselves, they are going to put them in teams. Half of them would stand guard with their spears and swords as they protect, while the other half would work and then they would alternate. Nehemiah then took them out and posted them by groups and families so that they could encourage each other and lift each other up. Big lesson: It’s very important that we work together and not separately.
Pastor Rick has written some characteristics of an effective team from the book, ‘The Human Side of Enterprise’ by Douglas MacGregor where he wrote:
A good team is comfortable, relaxed and informal in their atmosphere. Then it says everyone participates in discussions.?The task is well defined and accepted by team members. Members really listen to each other. The team is not threatened by disagreement.
Peter Drucker said that if only one side is being presented in the discussion, thinking is not taking place. People are not really thinking unless we come up with more than one opinion on a particular thing. So don’t be threatened by disagreement. You can disagree without being disagreeable. You can walk hand in hand together without always seeing eye-to-eye.
Critical suggestions are made without personal attack. In their ministry organization Pastor Rick cited, “Members are free to express feelings and not just ideas. You don’t have any hidden agendas. Clear assignments are made and accepted. ?Leadership shifts depending on the circumstance. That’s an important concept in team ministry.”
Leadership shifts from time to time because people are all experts in different areas. In an area where someone knows what’s going on, staff will obviously defer to that someone because he or she knows what’s going on -- that person is trained in that area or because they had experience in that area.
Allow me to primarily share a condensed version of what I have learned from the Purpose-Driven man on how they build a team spirit at Saddleback. I’ll use the acrostic T.E.A.M. and give you these four things I’ve learned from Rick Warren in building a purpose driven culture. This, in essence, is what he is trying to do with his ministerial staff. I believe it’s what you need to be doing with anybody who works with you in your company, whether it’s staff directly working with you or colleague from other teams across the organization.
T – TRUST:
You cannot build a team – and I cannot overstate the importance of trust in any organizations. Trust is the emotional glue that binds a team together, that produces confidence. If you don’t trust somebody, then you don’t have confidence on that person. If you don’t have confidence, you don’t have achievement. In any high achieving organization, there must be trust in the staff in order for things to be done effectively and efficiently,. This does not only apply to trust in people in getting the job done, but trust in people to do things and projects the way they think is best. That’s an important concept. We are given the freedom to try new ways and do the most efficient ways.
Mistrust creates stagnation. What builds trust?
One way is consistency. People must learn to trust you. The Bible says, “A faithful man is hard to find.” The more we spend time together and the longer we work together, the more we are able to read each other and the more consistent we become because we know how people are going to respond.
Another is standing by your staff when they take the heat. The basic approach is, defend your staff whenever you hear a criticism, in the first place, don't accept it. The first thing to do is to defend them and then go check it out if you need to. In front of other people, loyalty is extremely important. Loyalty builds trust.
What is the proof of trust? The proof of trust is when you delegate. When you delegate that decision making power to make decisions and say, “You do what you think best.” Now, that’s key.
E – ECONOMY IS ENERGY:
One of Pastor Rick’s life verses is Proverbs 14:30 (Living Bible):“A relaxed attitude lengthens a man’s life.” Would you like to live a long time? Would you like to last in the game? Then you have to go about it in a relaxed way.
What we’re doing here has eternal implications, without a doubt. So what we need is what I call relaxed concern. That sounds like a contradiction, but it’s not. In other words, we realize that heaven and hell are in the balance for the lives of many people. What we’re doing is having an impact. You cannot live “tightly wound” all the time. You have to go about your work with a relaxed concern. The quickest way to burn out a staff is to not have economy of energy, to not ever relax.
Rome is not built in a day. Pastor Rick’s team believes in pacing growth. So, for them, it is absolutely critical that they do not keep draining themselves without developing this relaxed attitude. Otherwise people are going to burn out very quickly. Those of you who are in secretarial positions, in particular, Peter Drucker said the easiest place to burn out is in an administrative position. You need to be aware of that.
I am aware of the fact that you cannot keep draining people. Every time you give a person a problem, that’s another drain. You give them another problem and that’s another drain. So when you know that you are draining your people, learn to pace yourselves. You have to economize your energy.
A – AFFIRMATION AND APPRECIATION:
You know the amazing power of appreciation. Appreciation means to raise in value. It is the opposite of depreciation. You know what depreciation is. You’ve bought a car and seen its value go off $1000 the moment you drive it off the lot. If you have money in the stock market, you’ve seen depreciation too.
Appreciation means to raise in value. That means if you want to raise the value of anything, you appreciate it. If you want to raise the value of your mate, appreciate him. If you want to raise the value of the people you work with, appreciate them. If you want to raise the value of your job, appreciate the people around you. The more appreciation you express, the more it raises the value of the situation.
William James once said, “The deepest principle in human nature is to be appreciated.” Paul has a continuous attitude of gratitude. Philippians 1:3-5 “I thank my God every time I remember you because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day.” It’s important that we work on complimenting each other. Set a goal to become encouragers, to continually value and appreciate what each other is doing.
Pastor Rick shared four things you can affirm in your staff.
Affirm their efforts.
Affirm their loyalty.
Affirm their differences.
Affirm their ideas.
One of my basic principles to life is -- I try to answer “Yes” to any idea. Then later come back and say “What’s wrong with it?” then my staff would tell me what’s wrong with their idea when they share it because I’m usually not going to sit there and stop to think what’s wrong with it. The fact is, people will be as creative as the organization allows them to be. That’s a fact of life.
Any organization that allows for creativity will have lots of creative people. McDonalds is the number one in fast food service in the world -- light years ahead of everybody else. The reason why is that McDonalds has created a structure that allows the person doing the work to come up with the most creative things. All of the best sellers – Big Mac, McNuggets – all of those were developed not at the main office but by franchisers, guys who were actually out selling on the front lines. They suggested them to the front office and the front office bought it. Most creative ideas come from the people actually involved in the ministry, not from the top down. I want us to create an atmosphere where there is freedom to come up with a creative other way.
M – MANAGEMENT OF MISTAKES:
To build a team, you have to have management of mistakes. “For though a righteous man falls seven times, he rises again.”(Proverbs 24:16) What I like about this verse is it says that even righteous men fall. It doesn’t say that righteous people are perfect. It says righteous men fall. They even fall seven times. That means we’re going to make mistakes. Just because God has chosen us and blessed us and called us doesn’t mean we’re perfect. So we’re going to make mistakes.
Mistakes are useful. They are very useful because they teach us what doesn’t work. Thomas Edison tried 200 different kinds of chemicals before he found out that tungsten would be the mineral that can be used in a light bulb. Somebody said, “You’ve had 200 failures.” And he said, “No, I’ve had an education.” So don’t call it a failure, call it an education. You know what doesn’t work.
In any good organization where there’s creativity, when you know people are being creative is they’re making mistakes. If there are no mistakes, there is no creativity.
Pastor Rick told his staff, “I want everybody making at least one good mistake a week. As long as it isn’t the same mistake.” He continued, “I’d rather attempt to do something and fail than attempt to do nothing and succeed.”
You should have the freedom to make mistakes. You should have the freedom to fail. You should have the freedom to waste money, if you learn from it and you never again do it. That’s the key,because the fear of mistakes stifles creativity and you would want to create an environment where it’s not a bad thing to make mistakes; that it’s ok to make them. There is no sacred cow. So when you make a mistake you just call it an experiment – research. Any failure can become a positive learning experience. Keep your mind open.
Boris Joaquin is a top-ranked public speaker and masterful trainer for leadership programs and other soft skills. He is a seasoned management consultant, being involved in various industries and business sizes, from multinationals to locally owned enterprises. Presently, he’s the President & Chief Equipping Officer of Breakthrough Leadership® Management Consultancy, Inc.
Boris is a registered Investor in People Specialist helping assess and advise other organizations to achieve their business priorities through the development of their people. You may be able to contact Boris at (02) 813-2703/32 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.