I saw a T-shirt once with the words, “My idea of a team is a whole lot of people doing what I tell them to do.” A person who leads a team that way is probably convinced that everything revolves around his own needs.
I view teamwork more like improvisational jazz, expressing one’s individuality while contributing to the whole, and developing speed and accuracy of thought. The result is the invention of new thought patterns, new practices, new structures or symbols, and/or new ways to act.
In 2005, when working in Rome, Italy covering the death of Pope John Paul II and the Papal Conclave for Fox News Channel, I was impressed by the teamwork our team exhibited. Moments after the bells chimed denoting the pontiffs death I saw evidence of leadership on our team, but everyone worked together to achieve the goal; not for the benefit of one person but for the benefit of the whole team. Everyone performed there task, went the extra mile and allowed for improvisation. If a team is working properly, nobody will care who scores.
Looking back, I actually never worried that we wouldn’t work together as a team when we are faced with a crisis. I have found that people seem to step up during those most challenging times. But, what about our teamwork on a daily basis in our churches and personal lives? Have you ever noticed that our own conflicts with each other are, on most occasions, over petty, unimportant issues?
I encourage you to make a special effort to accentuate the positives and ignore the negatives. Every day is a day that can’t be made up and and we don’t want to waste even one of them with meaningless negative trivia.
How can you improvisationally lead?
• Listen carefully to everyone else. Be supportive.
• Balance the leadership and followership. Give everyone a chance to “solo.”
• Be sensitive to the moods (internal environments) of the others.
• Trust your intuitions.
• Risk expressing your ideas, even when you are not totally sure of them.
• Be “playful.” Lighten up and think smart simultaneously.
• Be open to new, experimental patterns and directions outside of the “square.”
• Bring the outside world into the picture. Think systemically.
• The heart and soul of business has a preferred opportunity for expression in the work of teams. Mutual love and respect helps to get the job done.