For years I followed the quote of "Everything rises and falls on Leadership" as a principle to live by. Basically, what this statement is saying is that everything your organization does is a reflection of your leadership. I still feel this statement is true, but after spending time with my pastor about a year ago as he was talking to college students at Southwestern about church planting, I have modified it just a bit. Now I believe that "everything rises and falls on relationships." John Maxwell reminded us many years ago, that if you don't have any one following you, you aren't leading, you are only taking a walk. Leadership ultimately comes down to influence and your influence is relying on your ability to build relationships with those you are tasked with leading.
For some, forming relationships comes easy. They are gifted with the ability to establish bonds with people rapidly. For others this process is more like a "root canal." It is awkward and sometimes painful, but it is necessary if we are going to establish a healthy relationship with those we lead. Here are 3 hints for forming relationships with your team:
1. Learn about who they are outside of church. What are their hobbies and interests? What is their family like? Where are they from? (When you do this, find some way of recording this data, because if you are like me, you will not be able to keep up with all the info you get).
2. Spend time with the team. This is essential if you are a new leader coming in, but those of us who have been around for a while can't forget it either. When I first got to Frisco, I spent time with the team in place to allow them a chance to get to know me and give me a chance to get to know them. This has been crucial to the long term growth of our ministry and our team.
3. Listen to them. Your people don't necessarily need you to use every idea that they send your way, but they do need you to be open and receptive. They are usually the ones in the "trenches" doing the work. They have a first hand knowledge of the challenges that need to be addressed. They might be able to provide some valuable insight to finding the solution.
If you will value the people you lead and your relationships with them, you will get the buy-in you need to make the changes necessary for your ministry to go to a new level.