Enrich Culture – Building a Cohesive Team – More than Mediocre

A leader who is intentional about setting the culture, hiring people who fit the culture, and developing those people, now has the ingredients for an amazing team! In physics, cohesion is the force by which molecules in a substance are held together. In this article we’ll look at the factors by which team members come together to form a cohesive team. The book we’re drawing from this month is “The Five Dysfunctions of a Team” by Patrick Lencioni – in this book, Lencioni outlines 5 keys to creating a healthy high-performing team. Each principle builds on the former, so let’s begin with the end in mind. The ultimate footballteampurpose of a team is to get “Results”. A sports team wants to win the game, a military unit wants to achieve the tactical objective, a corporate team wants to see profits, a married couple wants to raise children who become healthy adults, and a Teen Challenge staff team wants to see lives transformed. I love how Lencioni recounts of hearing people say, “well we have a losing record this season, but we have a great team!” He’ll say “no, you don’t have a great team; you have a group of people who enjoy being together and are satisfied with mediocre results.” You might say that Teen Challenge is God’s business and we can’t measure everything – the results are up to Him. That’s partly true, but from well executed fundraising events to well-maintained buildings to changed lives…there are plenty of results we want to see in Teen Challenge.

Next, a team gets results because they are willing to embrace “Accountability”. Greg Hammond talks about this principle in creating a “peer culture” in the student body. He uses the example of a time when he constantly found old gum on the sidewalks of the campus. He could have added yet another rule to the policy manual and said, “No gum.” Instead he went to the student body and said, “You decide – if you want to keep chewing gum, keep it off the sidewalks.” The students took care of it themselves by holding one another accountable. And this is what makes accountability effective, when it operates with “Commitment” to agreed upon decisions, objectives or courses of action. With this kind of commitment the team member says, “I’m all in and I will do my best to support this decision and see it succeed.”

While the gum chewing example is a simple one, other decisions and courses of action are not so straightforward – should this student be dismissed? How can we improve our admissions process? Can we disciple our students more effectively? This is where cohesive teams learn to be comfortable with “Healthy Conflict”. This is nothing more than the pursuit of truth – what’s the very best decision? Is there a better idea? What will be the most effective solution? When team members are free to weigh in on the discussion, and are willing to do so, it’s more likely that the best decision will be made because everyone has brought their brains, experience and giftings to the table. Healthy conflict doesn’t necessarily lead to consensus – the leader will often have to make the call – but people can usually commit to decisions they’ve been allowed to give input on even if they disagree. This kind of honest discussion can only happen in a healthy culture, where there is the presence of “Trust” on a team. Lencioni calls this “vulnerability-based trust”, where people can speak up or admit they don’t have all the answers without fear of being judged or shot down. This kind of trust takes time and intentionality to cultivate on a team but everything else depends on this foundation.

Next month we’ll take a closer look at the role of the leader in these 5 areas. In the meantime, how are things on your team? Is it healthy and functional? Or is there sometimes an inattention to results, avoidance of accountability, lack of commitment, fear of conflict, or absence of trust?

Enrich Culture – Shifting the Values

I hope you took some time last month to reflect on “how things are going in your boat”… In that article we said that after prayer, the most important thing a leader can do is build a healthy culture for the teams they lead. Leaders must delegate a lot of things, but culture is not one of them. The leader is solely responsible for how healthy a team or ministry is. As a leader, being a “culture bearer” requires a shift in values, skills and allocation of time. For instance, as a staff member I should value being an effective contributor to the team and the mission. I do my part to enrich culture by embracing and embodying the Core Values and the TC DNA. I would be honing a particular skill such as teaching, counseling or computer skills. My time would be primarily allocated to working with students or in administration, completing my assigned tasks and responsibilities. As a leader, whether I’m leading a rally team, a work crew or a center, my values and skillset have to shift, as well as how I manage my time. It’s important what we value – we spend our time doing the things we value, and skills that are used without being instructed by values, aren’t done with much passion and creativity. So if I’m directing a center, and value making individual contributions such as counseling, I will probably pursue a degree in counseling and spend a lot of time counseling students. Instead, as a team leader, there has to be a shift – rather than valuing what I can contribute individually, I now value the success and contributions of others, I value the results of the whole team, I value the work and disciplines I need to do as a manager. This managerial skillset includes things like setting the culture, selecting the right people who are a fit for the culture, designing job descriptions, empowerment and delegation, performance evaluation and development, communication, building a cohesive team, and rewards and motivation. The book “The Leadership Pipeline” talks about this shift: “First-time managers need to learn how to reallocate their time so that they not only complete their assigned work but also help others perform effectively. They cannot allocate all of their time to putting out fires, seizing opportunities, and handling tasks themselves.” Putting out fires…yikes! Sounds like Teen Challenge! One of the challenges of leadership is slowing down the high speed train that we call Teen Challenge and valuing and spending time on the right things. Effective leaders and healthy organizations value an enriched culture and take the time to cultivate it. In the next 3 articles we’ll highlight 3 very practical areas in which a leader enriches culture: bringing the right people on the team, developing people, and building a cohesive team. In the meantime, assess how you allocate your time – how does it reflect what you value?

Article written by – Karissa Corpeny – Director of Corporate Training (TC Southeast)

 

Enrich Culture – More than a Mission

We continue in our “E5” season of “Enriching Culture”. It might not seem very strategic to you, I mean there are places to go and drug addicts to save. We’re on a mission here. Is all this “culture stuff” really necessary? I’d like to propose that after cultivating a life of prayer, the most important thing a leader can do is build a healthy, flourishing culture for the teams they leadSure, ultimately leadership and team is about results – accomplishing tasks, goals and the mission.In Teen Challenge, we’re all sold out to the mission of offering life-transformation through Christ, so what difference does culture make?

Imagine two row boats in a race: boat #1 has 10 rowers vigorously rowing in sync, in the TC Crew Logo - Trimmed -TBsame direction, cheering each other on. Boat #2 has 5 rowers rowing in the same direction (but not quite in sync and not quite all out), 2 rowers who are arguing about which direction to row, 1 rower who is asleep, 1 rower who is rowing in the opposite direction, and 1 rower who is trying to sink the boat. Which boat wins? Culture is the single factor that will determine what is happening in your boat. A healthy culture is like the fertile soil that yields a hundred-fold at harvest time, like the firm foundation a lasting structure is built upon, or like the careful planning that makes a long journey more productive. Culture is the sole responsibility of the leader – you will either build a healthy culture by intention, or allow a dysfunctional culture by default. People will get in the boat because of the mission, but they’ll get out (or get tossed overboard) if the culture is not healthy. People don’t leave organizations or missions, they leave leaders. Bill Hybels, senior leader of Willowcreek Church, says, “staff cultures will only be as healthy as the senior leader wants it to be.” A healthy culture ensures that the right people are on the boat, that they find the best seat for their gifts and strengths, that all the rowers are synced up and rowing in the same direction, that every rower is fully engaged because they show up every day exclaiming, “I was born for this! I can’t imagine doing anything else! This is what makes me feel alive!” And a healthy culture gets results.

Like the example of the two row boats above, it’s astonishing how much more productive a flourishing culture is from a dysfunctional or toxic culture. Has God called you to lead? Then He’s called you to be a culture-bearer, to build and enrich a strong and healthy team culture. There’s no short cut in cultivating culture, it takes time and effort and skill. But it will lay the foundation and create the momentum that will save much time and effort in the long run. In the upcoming series of articles, we’ll see that enriching culture is actually pretty practical, and we’ll look at how leaders enrich culture as well as reasons why leaders don’t place an importance on culture. In the meantime, how are things in your boat?

Written by: Karissa Corpeny (Director of Corporate Training, TC Southeast)

 

Level II – May 2014

Welcome!

This month we want to welcome Hannah Larson (Columbus Girl’s) to the Level II!

Core Courses

Okay, so we are on the very last post of People First by Jack Lannom. Remember there is no test for this course. Email or slow-mail me (andree.aiken@teenchallenge.cc) your Personal Action Plan (PAP) fill-ins along with your assessment (first pages) and I’ll grade them and return to you.

The next core course is Strategic Planning and Decision Making and our text is Exec Values PICExecutive Values by Kurt Senske. “The book combines two aspects of organizational leadership not often mentioned in the same breath: getting results and integrating Christian values within an organization.” Executive Values is a “how-to” book designed to help you succeed in your chosen career without compromising your faith and losing your soul in the process. The first post will be up on the forum Monday, May 19th.

Electives

Congratulations to Phillip Talle’ (Jacksonville) and Sandra Marotta (Southwest FL Admin) for moving on to your electives!

As always, looking forward to chat with you on the discussion forum.

Andree Aiken