There’s More to Leadership than Your Expertise
The item today is Team: There are lots of definition of the term “team.” Informally, team members are everyone with whom you connect in your work. Specific duties for the church musician relate to the primary team of church staff and/or music staff. Team synergy is similar to ensembles in music. You must rehearse in order to develop ensemble. It’s the same with team.
Transformational Leadership is a transformational paradigm. The musical director is one of the most visible examples of this:
• Individual singers (instrumentalists) are transformed into a choir (band/orchestra);
• The choir (band/orchestra) is transformed into an ensemble over time; and
• In music ministry these ensembles are on a transformational journey of faith. We are part of transforming and forming this faith journey as ministry professionals.
The church musician, as transformational leader, builds teams and builds leaders on teams. Here are some thoughts on three obvious types of teams:
Minister Musician Team
The key working relationship and the heart of worship leadership is the relationship between the senior pastor and the director of music. Setting the standard for this relationship will be setting the standard for others to follow – even the entire church! After all, if the two people leading the organization cannot work in harmony, how then will they be able to lead others to do so? In order to lead in worship and to inspire a congregation to work together in unity, this relationship must be the model.
In order to work in an honest relationship, you must establish a strong level of trust. That means not doing anything that will destroy the trust of the other person. That means not making unilateral decisions that should involve the other person unless the terms of decision-making have been arranged. That means the trust level is strong enough that each one of you knows the other person always intends to do the right thing. It also means that when there is a departure from trusting behavior, intentional or unintentional, the offending party must come clean and deal with the issue openly and honestly.
Give a wide berth for the other person in times of major stress. Be “in tune” when things are going wrong in his or her life. Show again, that you care.
Do all you can do to ensure that this is the best working relationship it can be. It will pay off for both parties.
The Staff Team
Many, many churches have so many programs that it is impossible for every staff member to keep up with or even participate in every program. At best, keeping up with every program is difficult, if not impossible. However, there are many programs that should not be produced by only one staff member or even one department. If you adopt the concept that no church program can stand alone, then explore how to make every program more effective, more enjoyable, and more easily executed by combining forces with colleagues in the planning and execution of programming. Set a standard with your team and reach out to other teams to connect all the parts.
Building trust and accountability among team members is essential to the success of the team. The process of clarifying these team standards for how members of the team will relate to each other is important. These expectations cannot be assumed. A list of guidelines must be established, made available to every member, and posted for each team gathering. The guidelines are set by the team, modified by the team and clarified by the team – continually. This, in a sense, is a “Covenant Agreement” for the life of the team and/or the team’s project.
It may appear to be a waste of time to define what seems like obvious standards; however, in establishing these standards, some members may find disagreement about others’ accepted standards. In fact, the process of identifying and defining these guidelines will help the team learn new ways to create a safe environment for brainstorming, clarifying, sorting, and eliminating information. The way the team relates, operates, and functions defines how strong it will be and how solid its planning process will be. The process itself builds trust, builds community, and builds momentum. Basically, if the team’s processes are flawed, then the team’s output is likely to be flawed as well.
The Member-in-Ministry Team (Typically Called Volunteers)
The Transformational Leader creates synergy and unity by empowering those in God’s service willing to give of their time and energy in God’s service to the church. The member pool at most churches can be very large and very skilled, if properly utilized. I served in one church where the volunteers were called “Members in Ministry.” A strong member work force will not only help get the work done, but might bring fresh insights to the same old chores. They will also become advocates for whatever project with which they are emotionally connected.
Moving forward in thinking about build teams as ensembles, here are the principle things to learn:
1) Learn to be the leader
Leadership skills you employ in this area are important to the transformation of volunteers into workers, critics into advocates, and detractors into supporters. Learn to define, recruit, delegate, support, nurture, and facilitate. The Transformational Leadership model enables leaders to get the right people, tell them what is needed, let people complete their tasks, and celebrate the results. After all, professional leaders lead. If we did everything, we would be called professional doers. Leaders lead. This means getting out of the way.
2) Learn to recruit
The first principle of leadership is having someone to lead. This might seem logical. But it is very difficult for some leaders to ask someone else to do something. Looking back at the previous chapters, remember that relationship comes first. Once you have earned the relationship, then it is easier to ask someone to participate in a program that you lead. It is even easier to ask someone that you do not know yet. This is a wonderful way to develop lasting relationships, if you handle it correctly. So, let’s recruit.
Recruiting is a skill, not a chance roll of the dice. Get to know people – what makes them tick, their skills and talents, and their interests.
3) Learn to delegate
Once the person agrees to the task at hand, then arrange for a meeting to define the task. Don’t do this in the hall or in the parking lot as you are going from place to place or from meeting to meeting. This will convey the wrong feelings about your commitment to their success in the prescribed task. Arrange a time and quiet place to meet. Have something in writing to give them, which will define the task. Do this even if they say they know “all about it.” Don’t take a chance on any misunderstanding, which will negate the work they do. There is nothing worse than having to tell willing volunteers that they have done the “wrong thing.” Well, it wasn’t wrong to them, or they wouldn’t have done it.
4) Learn to support
When was the last time you wrote a note to someone just to say that you care about what he or she does, acknowledging him or her personally? This is primary support for your team of volunteers. Write a note to someone every day. If you do one or two a day, you can manage the task and it becomes a habit for success. The response to this is worth it. Don’t let this task back up on you. Do some every day. Take your days off, but do this on workdays.
Call to check on how the project or task is coming along. Just say that you are thinking about them and wondering if they have any questions or comments, or just wanted to tell you how it was going. You are also encouraging progress. Some people have bad work habits and will put off things until it is too late to do a valid job. Accountability is critical. You are accountable to them for what you promised – support and guidance. They are accountable to you for delivering the results as agreed. They need your support, even if they don’t realize it.
In order to transform any culture, first transform yourself.
Be the best you can be as a professional church musician, which is very different from a musician that does church music.
If you want to share other steps for coaching or tips for success, please comment.
Definitions of Transformational Leadership from Transforming Power: The Fast Track to Nonprofit Leadership Excellence
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