WHAT DO YOU DO WHEN YOUR TEAM FALLS APART?
Have you ever worked with fellow world changers but nothing noble seems to happen when you are together? Does it feel like your team of world changers is falling apart? Then it is time to take out the ruler — haha, no, don’t hit anyone with it, but use the ruler as reminder to bring alignment.
For example, let’s say you are a part of a church. Everyone on the leadership team wants to see the church bring life to their members, their city, and eventually to the entire world – hopefully! However, to be honest, the outcomes of these team meetings are far from world changing.
The language, the perspective, and the atmosphere of the church can become apathetic or even toxic. What happened? I believe it is the lack of alignment. Your group or organization has become misaligned.
Three commons symptoms of misalignment are as follows:
- Your team does not remember why they exist.
- Your team cannot see through obstacles and has lost energy.
- Your team is not communicating effectively with one another.
Here are 3 keys that I have used to unlock the power of alignment in my team of world changers at various university campuses.
Key#1: Move from Obligation to Imagination
Too often teams will forget why they exist. Since each member may have a different vision in mind, his or her actions will conflict inherently. In order to foster unity, some leaders will sing the song of “duty”. At first, duty and obligation will seem honorable; however, the heavy burden of obligation will lead to burnout and resentment over time. Duty will continue to keep your team task-oriented, but it will never answer the “why”.
As a leader you must paint an attractive picture of an attainable reality. This new reality will strike a match in your team’s creativity and it will activate their talents. Your team will yearn for this reality together – eventually your team will know exactly why they exist!
Obligation is a taskmaster with a list of chores. Imagination is a coach that believes in the next win. Lead with imagination.
Key #2: Move from Manipulation to Affirmation
Many teams believe they are defeated and will lose momentum, energy, or hope. During moments of loss or fear, do not “control” your team by using manipulation. I have seen too many leaders scare their team into alignment in the face of adversity. Instead you should affirm the behavior that is helpful in the midst of difficulty. Be authentic when you do this – do not fabricate compliments because that is just another kind of manipulation. Consider phrases like the following:
- “I am proud of you” indicates that what they have already accomplished is aligned.
- “I am thankful for you” reveals that what they are currently doing is aligned.
- “I believe in you” illustrates that they are on a path for the future that is aligned.
With simple phrases of encouragement, you can help your team members understand that their past, present, and future actions have aligned the team for success even in the midst of the current obstacles. You can say with confidence, “I know it is hard right now, but there is no need to point fingers because we are on the right track!”
Manipulation leads to factions and team politics. Affirmation transforms your team culture. Lead with affirmation.
Key #3: Move from Speculation to Communication
Some teams can speculate extreme loss or gain. Your team could assume that no one cares about each other or the mission. Your team could assume that everything is amazing when it is not. Your team could speculate that you are far too busy for them. The speculations are limitless.
While working in the corporate world, one of my vice-presidents would say, “Assumption is the mother of all screw-ups, son!!” Of course his language was much more colorful! My engineering team lived by the motto, “Never speculate that you got it right – ‘almost’ only works in horseshoes and hand grenades…”
As a leader, you must over-communicate with your team and eliminate room for assumption. Share the facts. Do not sugarcoat, do not wax eloquent, do not inflate the facts – just communicate. When you are not sure about something or someone, just ask.
Speculation creates uncertainty and mistrust. Communication leads to risk-taking and transparency. Lead with communication.
I have seen the opposite of these 3 keys ruin local churches and corporate teams. Obligation, manipulation, and speculation can become an ugly combination. It will produce burnout, vision blur, and extreme pessimism within an organization. I have seen leaders take advantage of people and use their teams as a means to an end because of misalignment.
You can be different.
- Spark the imagination of your team members.
- Speak affirmation into the lives of your team members.
- Initiate open communication within your team.
I believe these 3 keys will unlock the power of alignment. When everyone fits together, supports one another, and syncs up, you will change the world. Start the alignment process today — your team will not fall apart!