As we get ready to start a new year, I thought I would remind myself of my job. What is it that I am supposed to do?

We often use terms like “leader” and “manager,” and we all have fancy titles like “Chief This” and “Chief That” or “Vice President of This and That.” We really all have the same job: to get things done, to move the company forward while maintaining our core values, to respect and value our co-laborers, and to honor God.

In order to get things done, we need other people, and those people need to be helped along the way. This is leadership, management, whatever you want to call it. It also happens to be true that the most effective way to get things done is with a team of people who understand what they are trying to accomplish, know why it is important to get it done (and agree that it is important), and are good at working together.

Our executive team just finished reading The Ideal Team Player by Patrick Lencioni. This book described what it looks like when people are good at working together. We learned that people need to be humble, hungry, and smart (emotionally intelligent) to be successful team players.

Furthermore, it has been proven that the best work gets done by highly effective teams, not by the “best” individual people. Don’t read me wrong; I want to hire and retain great people. But the best people are no match for a great team, and a highly trained and effective person who won’t play well with others needs to go.

In a recent article titled “Five Essential Lessons I Learned In 20 Years of Managing People,” Greg Satell further defines this reality. He says, “You don’t need the best people…but you need to fire the nasty ones.” Satell points out that mission drives strategy, and money isn’t the best motivator. Finally, he acknowledges that failing is part of the job description.

Reading Satell’s article, I was reminded that we already know most of this stuff. We have the data; now we need the experience. When Jesus called his disciples, he was selecting the men who would carry the Good News to the world after his death. These working-class guys would lead the church and pass on all that Jesus taught and showed them. Jesus didn’t pick the most educated or connected. He didn’t find the guys who already had years of experience in public speaking or organizational development. He picked hard-working guys who had to rely on each other every day in order to get the job done.

Then Jesus spent three years with them. Three. Years. 1,095 days. 26,280 hours. Time. Living, eating, working, traveling, and teaching. He built a team. He taught them to rely on one another and to back each other up. They had
different gifts and skills and temperaments, yet together they were the team Jesus entrusted with his message and legacy.

None of us are Jesus or even an apostle, but the model is valid. We must continue to be a high-functioning team (spending time together in humility), and we must continue developing our own teams. Then we must teach others to build and lead teams of their own.

We have made a great start. As we step into this New Year, let’s keep moving toward our vision, and let’s take our teams along with us.