Unifying Your Team
“Everyone takes out the trash.”
I’ll never forget those words. It was my hiring interview at a coffee shop, and my manager was explaining to me the culture of the work staff and team. His point was not that I needed to take out the trash, but that as manager he was willing to take out the trash. This perfect model of servitude set the tone for the whole team. We were willing to serve our team because our leader made a clear statement he would be willing to serve us. This created loyalty to our leader, to the coffee shop, and to our team members. This loyalty was beautiful, but it led to something more. It created a motivation for the unity we had on the team.
Though there are many thoughts and definitions on the idea of unity, my favorite is “wholeness and harmony.” The great part about wholeness is it’s made of many different parts. The beautiful part of harmony is it is comprised of different notes. Have you ever tried to build a car out of only tires, or create a musical chord from only the C note?
“Unity is not a group of people who look the same. Unity is NOT uniformity.”
People don’t need to look or act the same to work together well. I believe it’s a group of people working together well. Even the Bible talks about all the Body parts working together well for the Body to function. And it is the same on any team. Some are going to be good at admin, or casting vision, or encouraging, etc. But without everyone working as a team as they are, it will be impossible for the team to have unity.
Psalm 133 tells us unity is as pleasant as oil running down on the beard of Aaron. Aaron, the first priest of Israel, was anointed with oil when commissioned with the role—the role which acted out the praise, worship, and communing with God.
“I believe unity anoints us to be able to step into a place of relationship with God. In other words, God rests on unity.”
So now that we see the importance of unity, the question is, “How do I create a team culture of unity?”
Steve and Ruth Moore (directors of BSSM Alumni, BSSM Online and BSSM School Planting) leak unity constantly. I had the privilege of serving on their team for a period, and I would say the two biggest keys I’ve learned on this team are encouragement and vulnerability.
Encouraging One Another
Encouragement allowed us to see the good in each other, and it forced our brain to have a more positive outlook. It helped us see our team members more like the Lord sees them, which is a personal goal of mine, and we valued someone for what they are really carrying. It also allowed the person we encouraged to understand they are valued, they’re doing well, and they aren’t working in vain.
Ruth and Steve not only displayed encouragement constantly, almost relentlessly, they also had us practice encouraging each other in our day-to-day and even through intentional group exercises. When you consistently encourage your team members and view them from God’s point of view, it becomes quite difficult to hold offense toward those people.
The second key, vulnerability, is a bit scarier and riskier. It pulls people into our world, giving them the opportunity to love on us. Vulnerability says, “Hey, I trust that you will not hurt me with this sensitive subject I am going to share.”
Within our team, Ruth and Steve exemplified this in two ways. First, they were vulnerable with us. They shared weaknesses as well as their accomplishments and many things in between. Secondly, they covered and pastored the team well when team members decided to be vulnerable. There is a lot to say about vulnerability, but for now, remember, stewarding vulnerability and encouragement well will grow your team in unity and love.
Brave Communication and Feedback
A vital piece to create unity within your team is creating a culture of brave communication and encouraging feedback. It is important to create a team dynamic where seeking to understand is the first step in any brave communication or feedback. Proverbs is persistent in saying listening is better than speaking. Without understanding, brave communication and feedback becomes hollow. Seeking to understand followed by brave communication builds true unity and high levels of trust. (Side Note: Unity is not the absence of conflict on a team, but navigating conflict well. I would dare say growth on a team is near impossible without healthy conflict.)
Another useful way to help drive the culture of feedback and brave communication is to give feedback on how they gave their feedback. Sounds funny, right? But encouraging them and thanking them for their risk on talking to you and kindly giving them tips on how to do it in future will better the confronting interactions they have in the future.
Though it is vital for a team, brave communication and feedback can be difficult. One of the hardest things I ever did was bravely confront my best friend about the quality of work he was displaying at work that day (which was unusual for him). Though it was uncomfortable at the time, he took it well, and it created unity on the team; our connection grew as a result. Without the confrontation, the relationship, unity, and teamwork would all have suffered.
Encouragement, vulnerability, and brave communication are imperative for a team to hold unity. And though it can be a sacrifice at times, the reward is deeper fellowship with each other and a stronger union with the Lord.
For more information on brave communication check out Brene Brown’s Daring Greatly and Danny Silk’s Keep Your Love On.
For more information on vulnerability check out Brene Brown’s Braving the Wilderness.
For more information about unity check out Psalms 133, Acts 1-2, 1 Corinthians, and basically all of Proverbs.
Nicolas Lirio just graduated his third year of Bethel School of Supernatural Ministry. He is an incredible encourager, champion of people, and creative and strategic thinker. His pastoral insight is valuable in creating community and a family environment.