Building a Culture within Your Team
I love a verse of the Apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians 11:1 that says: “Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ.” It stirs in me such a fascination about how as leaders, we can actually reproduce people. As leaders, we follow Christ and others get to follow our example in following Him. That concept is not only true for us as individual leaders, but as well for the teams we create around us. Where leadership teams are established, people follow their example as they follow Christ. I talked a little bit with our incredible Steve Moore and got his insightful thoughts on building teams.
In my last blog called ‘Raising up the Redeemed Eve,’ I wrote about the empowerment of women. In today’s piece, it was inevitable to not hear some of Steve’s thoughts on this topic as well. Being married to Ruth and having a lot of women on his team, he has quite some experience and ideas about how to raise up strong women. It’s an important element of building teams.
Build Big People
“There are two things I feel really passionate about”, he said, “I want to build big people and I want people to feel safe around me. Over sixty percent of the church are women and most people around me are women, so my heart is to make them feel safe and empowered to step out.”
In addition to that, I loved hearing Steve talk about how he practically lives that out. For example, there are times where he will consciously create space and not speak so his wife is able to instead. I love how that applies to the empowerment of both men and women. If we want to create big people, then we’ll have to actually create space to empower people to be big. “The best leaders are the best delegators,” he explained. “It’s not about ‘me’ as a leader, it’s about others.”
An important aspect of building teams that Steve talks about is the way he and Ruth are intentional in how they choose people to be a part of their team. A goal they have is to pick people that will protect culture above anything else. Steve said: “Ruth and I believe in a set of core values. We believe in creating big people, creating safety. We believe that work and team should be fun, and we want people to be concerned about those around them. I want people on my team that share similar core values.”
Sharing some other thoughts about building teams, Steve touched on something I find beautiful.
“Whatever I model from the front is what our students aspire to and will want to do.”
When we put women on our leadership teams, our women students will want to step up as leaders. When we put people on our teams who take risks, our students will want to take risks. Whatever you put value on within your teams, your students will put value on accordingly. They will follow you and your team as you follow Christ.
Steve went on to share that he always wants to pick a team that’s diverse. Not for the sake of just being diverse, but for the sake of creating a model that people look and aspire to. He wants to inspire people in every way possible. For example, he’ll purposely take on people that are more gifted than he is in certain areas, or have a different gift mix than he does. It’s about displaying the fullness of the kingdom, and diversity is inevitable in that. “Things are more caught than taught”, Steve added. It’s important to think through what kind of culture you’re modeling on your teams and what kind of culture you’re reproducing in your students.
People Over Agenda
Let me wrap it up with this: “It’s not high stakes.” This has to be one of my favorite things he said in our entire conversation. Steve explained how sometimes it’s so easy to feel pressure as a leader. It can be easy to be caught up in how well your team does because it will reflect you. To some extent that is true, but the point is this, “The minute you start making it about yourself and how awesome you are, you’ve stopped being a leader that people will want to follow. They might follow you for a season, but not for the long run.”
This is what I call Steve Moore coming at us with a double edged sword. I immediately think of Jesus and the style of leadership He operates out of. He laid down his life for his friends. That doesn’t mean we have to follow His example in a physical death, but it does mean we get to lay down our agendas as leaders. We get to replace it with having the best interests at heart for the ones we lead. Ultimately, we get to lay down our agenda for the sake of the advancement of the kingdom through the teams we lead. I can’t begin to imagine how those choices must impact the heart of the Father.
Here’s my charge to you, beautiful school leader: continue to dream with the Lord about what you want your school to be known for. Continue to dream about ‘the more’ that can be seen in your teams. Continue to dream about what kind of culture you want to cultivate within your leadership. As you make decisions and strategies accordingly, I am convinced you’ll see a ripple effect of that very same culture in your students. As you follow Christ, they’ll follow you.
Emily Hanna is from the Netherlands and is a BSSM Third Year graduate from the class of 2020. She is passionate about community and seeing people enfolded into family. She has a powerful prophetic voice and captivating joy.