In my consulting work over the last 30 years, one of the most common complaints I get – particularly at churches and nonprofit organizations – is that leaders don’t spend much time with their team. Understand it’s not just about being busy. In most situations it’s pastors, executives, COO’s and other leaders who simply don’t enjoy spending time with their team. In case that’s happening at your organization, and since I’ve heard it from both sides, when it happens, here’s my advice for both parties:
To the employees on the team: Get on the leader’s wavelength. Chances are, you’re a specialist and the leader isn’t. For instance, I often hear from church communications and media people that the pastor won’t spend time with them. In most cases, it’s because you want to talk about audio levels, lighting cues, or social media ideas. But the pastor is focused on reaching more people with the message, leading a wide ranging team, and how to be more effective in the pulpit. Get on that wavelength (and start feeding him ideas) and he or she will start spending more time with you than you even want.
It’s the same with every team member, whatever your area of expertise. The pastor is interested in a bigger picture, so get on that wavelength, and help him accomplish those goals. It reminds me of the old saying, “When you start helping other people reach their goals, they’ll start helping you reach yours.”
And by the way – constantly bringing up problems doesn’t help. It’s not that leaders want to ignore problems, but keep in mind that he or she is getting that same drumbeat from everyone on the staff. So whenever you can, become a problem solver without getting the leader involved, and for the rest – don’t bring up a problem unless you have a potential solution.
To the leader: There’s a couple of situations I’ve seen over the years. The first is when a leader has been cheated, taken advantage of, or let down by an employee in the past. I understand that sense of disappointment, and the desire to just not deal with it anymore. But as long as that person is gone, then you need to re-establish regular contact with the new team. If you don’t do that, you’re undercutting your own mission and goals.
If that’s not the case, the second option is pretty simple: If you’re not spending time with your leadership team, then you probably have the wrong leadership team. Granted, it may be that they don’t understand my recommendation above, and it would be worth sharing with them. You’re the leader, so teach your team. Help them understand your focus and how they can help you.
But if that doesn’t work, you simply may need a new team. Chemistry matters in building great teams, and if you don’t enjoy being with yours, then you’re not going to maximize the relationship. Teams only work when leaders engage and inspire them to accomplish great things. If you’re avoiding your team, then stop, deal with the issue, and get back to making an impact – together.
What do you need to do to re-engage the leader and team at your organization?