Servant-Hearted Team Meetings
There is more to effective team meetings than simply good time keeping. Leaders must have a servant heart.
I’ve previously written about the essential habit of good time management. One of the reasons it is so crucial for church leaders is that some of our time planning is also about managing the time of our wider team.
We need to learn the discipline of making these team meetings in good time. But there is more to it than that.
We will be in many small team meetings and we need to run them servant-heartedly.
Author Patrick Lencioni1 has given a powerful talk looking at the characteristics of servant leaders - those who lead for God’s honour and for others’ good. He then contrasts them with those he calls ‘reward leaders’.
A reward leader is one who serves for what they get out of it: to improve the CV; to take pride in their achievement; to gain titles; for promotion or kudos. Needless to say, Lencioni questions whether reward leaders are leaders at all – the only legitimate kind of leadership should be servant leadership. Amen to that.
Sadly, we are not as pure as we should be and the two can get blurred. So how do you know?
Lencioni describes some traits of reward leaders: they avoid difficult conversations; they resent having to repeat vision and message statements; they don't like team building. They don't run great small team meetings, either.
Small team meetings
To a reward leader, small team meetings are seen as a waste of their own precious time. They seem dull, boring, and irrelevant. They are tardy at making them on time. They exude tedium when they are there and after the meetings they are often ineffective in carrying through their responsibilities. Matters just get put off to yet another meeting.
That means these small team meetings have negligible outcomes and just serve to reinforce the bias against them that reward leaders have: they become a self-fulfilling prophecy. Everyone else on the team becomes tired of them and irritated by them.
Les McKeown, in his cracking little book ‘Do/Scale’2, strongly urges ‘High-Quality Team-Based Decision Making’ as one of the key developments in enabling organisations, including churches, to forge ahead. Take a look at Acts 15 and see how crucial it was there. These meetings are worthy of your best efforts.
But don’t be machine-like.
Hellos and goodbyes
One author urged leaders to look out especially for the “hellos” and “goodbyes”3. They may just be the most important part of the meeting in the long term. By giving everyone a warm welcome - including late-comers who may interrupt your meeting - all are put at ease.
Though time is important, people come first in these meetings and good hellos go a long way towards helping leadership have a human face. The same goes for goodbyes.
If someone has to go home early, walk with them to the door, thank them for coming, encourage them in what comes next in their life.
Remember how much care Paul took in his letters both in his greetings and his farewells. Be warm here and the wheels of the human and spiritual dynamics in the team are oiled well.
Elsewhere I've written about running good to great small meetings:
Servant leaders will work hard at learning to run effective team meetings.
1 Patrick Lencioni, What’s Your Motive? (Global Leadership Summit, 2019)
2 Les McKeown, Do/Scale (The Do Book Company, 2019)
3 Bill Hybels, Leadership Axioms (Zondervan, 2008), p96